New Year health resolutions: Why can’t we keep up to them?January 7, 2019
What’s the one word that’s most synonymous with a new year? Resolutions! Over the years I’ve realised that most of the time when we make a resolution, we think it’s coming from an internal motivation – a ‘push’. In fact, more often than not it is being ‘pulled’ from us externally by what’s trending and the ‘fear of missing out (FOMO)’. Think about it: Haven’t you felt pressurised to respond when a friend asks, “So, what’s your resolution this year?” It just seems like the thing to do when the New Year rolls around!
Psychological theories of motivation talk about both ‘pull’ and ‘push’ theories i.e. the factors that drive our motivation from inside and those environmental or situational factors that invite motivated behaviour. Psychologists unanimously agree that the ‘push’ factors always work better for sustaining motivation towards a goal than ‘pull’! Let’s look at some key health resolutions that we take and why they are hard to keep up with. But hey, don’t you worry! I’ll share some tips and tricks to make them work too!
I WILL WORK OUT REGULARLY
All that fitness gear, the workout clothes, the way you think a gym would feel – excite you and you can’t wait to start! But what happens? The first morning it’s cold outside and you’re cosy and warm. You think, “Okay, maybe an hour later” and hit the snooze button until it’s late and you need to leave for work. The problems is, workouts look glamorous but when it actually comes to getting your act together, it requires a choice of something hard over something easy and we are always inclined towards instant gratification so we pick the easy. Even though our logical brain tells us that we’ll get gains in the future, our primitive brain wants comfort now and we surrender. So you have to think of your brain as a child that needs to be taught discipline! Here’s how you can do it:
- Set small goals. For the first week, just get used to waking up early and moving around the house. This would gradually adapt you to the activities at that time of the morning rather than having a mountain of tasks lined up: waking up, brushing, putting on your clothes and shoes and then stepping out.
- Get a workout buddy. The more the merrier! When you join other people, working out means catching up, sharing a glass of juice , or just interacting with someone who is not part of your routine life. You socialise and get fit: It’s a win-win!
I WILL EAT HEALTHY
There are so many new diets cropping up every day and each one seems to have a bucket load of benefits. It can get really tempting to try them all but sticking to them, well, that’s the real challenge. Change the game!
- Follow the 20-minute rule. Twenty minutes after you start eating, the satiety centre in your brain gets the signal that you’re full. Try this trick to prevent overeating. Pick out a moderate portion size when you sit down for your meal and keep the rest of the food away from the view. Eat the portion for 20 minutes and then see how you feel. In all probability, you won’t go back for seconds!
- Stick to your regular food. Sure it’s tempting to think that if you try a new diet altogether you’ll see results. But I’ve got news for you: It’s not so much about what you’ve been eating, as it’s about how you’ve been eating it. So if you really want to see benefits from your diet, try it with the regular food you eat. Otherwise, the stress of shopping for new ingredients, and learning how to cook with new stuff will cause enough deterrence for you!
- Use the checklist method. We’re quite used to working with to-do lists during our day and this works well for diets too. Prepare a checklist of what you’re likely to eat during the day and as you keep finishing your meals, keep ticking items off. For every meal, keep 2-3 viable choices and only pick your menu out of those! This greatly limits your chances of straying from your diet.
I WILL FIND INNER PEACE
The journey to holistic health isn’t complete if you don’t have a healthy mind and a healthy body. But attaining inner calm doesn’t come easily and the resolution to achieving that just takes a back seat after a while. So how can you break regular patterns and get more tuned into yourself?
- Learn to take a pause. How many times are you actually able to declutter your mind? Taking a means slowing the pace of your thoughts and reconnecting with the moment. To do that, you need to stop everything for a few minutes, close your eyes and pay attention to all your sensations of that particular moment. Ask yourself, “Where am I sitting?” “How does it feel?”, “Am I warm or cold?” etc. The easiest way to engage your senses is to stop to smell that pretty flower on your way to work, or, maybe take your eyes off your phone to absorb that green patch of the park. You cannot imagine the boost you’ll get by these little moments, try it!
- Give up the illusion of control. When you make a resolution for inner peace, it doesn’t mean that you’ll finally place everything in your life in neat little boxes. In fact, it means just the opposite! If you want to keep your resolution, learn to breathe through things and not make everything your responsibility.