The new year is in full swing, and if you're like many other Americans, you've made a resolution
. . . maybe to lose weight and get fit, or kick your smoking habit to the curb. Unfortunately, the resolution you’ve made is probably the same
resolution you've made each previous year, and subsequently failed to achieve.
Once you’ve failed, you may think to yourself, “Well, I’m just not the type of person who can do this.” Or perhaps, “I’ve got so many things working against me [time constraints, relationship problems, kids, etc.] that there’s no way I’d have been able to keep that resolution anyway.” Or maybe even, “The odds are stacked against me! Of course I’m going to fail!”
Well, we’re here to tell you . . . you CAN change those odds – it just takes a little bit different approach. Too Big to Fail . . . or Succeed?
So, the first question is . . . why
do so many people fail to accomplish what they've set out to do, even after being so motivated at the beginning?
One of the most common problems with failed goals is that the goals are much too vague, thus removing any potential accountability. Simply saying "I plan to lose 30 pounds by May!" or "I am going to stop eating junk food" is not enough.
For example, if you wanted to lose 30 pounds by May, you might spend considerable time creating a strict diet and exercise plan, and for the first month or two you will stay right on schedule. When the third month comes and goes, and you see little or no visible weight loss, you will begin to lose motivation and eventually end the exercise and diet . . . maybe even gaining back the weight you worked so hard to lose, and thus losing more confidence than ever before.
Just saying that you want to quit junk food is another great example. What constitutes junk food? For the first few weeks you might ignore all sodas, chips, candy bars and snacks. But little by little you will sneak some "healthy" snacks like granola bars in (which can be quite unhealthy
), and after some more time your willpower may begin to fade, and you might start sneaking in a chip or two here and there (just for a “treat!”), which will ultimately lead to the complete unraveling of your original plan. Evening the Odds
So how can you avoid setting yourself up for failure? Well, you can start by simplifying your goals, and making them easier to attain. Rather than saying something vague and long term like "losing 30 pounds by May," you can help yourself out by setting short term goals that are within reach. Milestones of "lose 6 pounds a month" or "lose one and a half pounds a week" (which both lead to losing 30 pounds by May, by the way) are much simpler goals to achieve and gives you that sense of success and completion that will motivate you to continue.
You can even create some sort of timeline – or a “check-off” method on a calendar or day planner, where you can actually see the progress in writing. Another good motivator is to have a reward (not food, of course) for goals that you’ve achieved. Did you lose 10 pounds? Run for 15 minutes without stopping? All are worthy of some sort of treat – a massage, perhaps, or a movie with friends. Anything that keeps you motivated to keep going is an excellent reward choice.
As for the “detractors” in your life – the odds that are stacked against you, so to speak, well, you can’t just ignore them and hope that they go away. They most likely aren’t going to go away, so you need to find a new way of dealing with them – a new perspective, if you will.
If getting up in the morning to exercise seems nearly impossible, try doing it once or twice a week to start. Soon you’ll create the “habit” of getting up that early and it won’t seem nearly as impossible! Or, if your mornings and evenings are packed full with getting the kids to school and after-school activities, perhaps you can re-structure your day to find some time on your lunch break, or after the kids go to bed to sneak in that exercise.
Another trick is to sit down and plan your meals for the week all at once. If you have them in writing, they’ll be much easier to stick to, and you won’t find yourself ordering pizza three nights a week. Even better? Take a Saturday or Sunday, and make all your meals for the next two weeks and freeze them. That way you don’t even have to think about what you’re going to have for lunch or dinner – you can just pop it out of the freezer and know exactly that you’re right on track.
Often the “odds” that are against you come in the form of kids or other family members (significant others, parents, siblings, etc.). It may seem like everyone wants a piece of you – and your time. But, if you truly want to make a change – if you want Lady Luck to be on your side – you have to be OK with recognizing your own worth and taking time for yourself.
So, now that you have your motivational tools and your self-worth in check, it is also very important to know the limits of the human body as well. While losing three or four pounds a week may sound wonderful at first, doctors strongly recommend you do not lose more than two pounds a week. Any more than this could lead to nutrient deficiency and stretch marks (yikes – stretch marks!). Chances are that if you’re losing more than a couple pounds a week, you’re on a very restrictive diet and the level of eventual hunger will increase the chances of you giving up and gorging on huge feasts.
If quitting smoking
is your resolution for 2012, be aware that going "cold turkey" on an addictive behavior, whether it's smoking or drinking or anything else, could have adverse affects on your body, such as fevers, the shakes, anxiety and stress. A gradual removal of the harmful vice in your life would be the best path for success.
Remember, to truly even your odds with Lady Luck, you need to do the necessary research, and not rush it. If you change the way you look at things, you may just find yourself losing 30 pounds by May, ditching your junk food habit, becoming an exercise aficionado, or finally quitting that smoking habit.