The holidays are the time of year when, coincidentally, both our worst and best habits seem to surface within the same 4-6 week timeframe. During last few weeks of the year, we tend to do away with all of our normal routines (as well as many of the checks and balances) in the name of celebrating the season with friends and family. This sense of “joyous abandon” is usually followed by a period of three to four weeks almost exclusively devoted to some form of self-improvement — where we make a ton of resolutions and swear we’ll change our ways. Sound familiar? It’s a pretty predictable yearly cycle for most of us. And equally predictable — our resolutions don’t tend to last for very long.
Here are a few tried-and-true tips to help you break that uproductive cycle — and get you started down a fresh path this year:
Nothing fuels regret like putting off the things we know we should be doing now, until later. Equally bad? The idea that we need to wait for a “right time” to start. Remember, the calendar is a human construct. There is nothing magical or special about January 1st other than the importance we (the humans) have collectively given it. So, instead of gaining those 2 (or in my case 10) holiday pounds, start making better choices today — even as soon as your next meal. As the saying goes, “There’s no time like the present!”
If you take on too much all at once, you’re basically setting yourself up for failure. As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I started making small changes leading up to my first visit with our naturopath because I knew there would be lots more coming down the pipe. I weaned myself off caffeine, started juicing, cut out all refined sugar, ditched the microwave, got into smoothies, and gave up dairy. After the visit, on top of what I had already done, I was asked to go gluten-free, give up sparkling water, and quit chewing gum, as well as eschew all canned, deep fried, and processed foods. Now, if I had attempted to do all of those things at the same time…? I’d still be curled up in a corner somewhere hoarding chocolate, eating ice cream directly from the container with a serving spoon, and waiting impatiently for the pizza delivery man to come.
We’re way too gullible when it comes to ourselves — we tend to believe our pretty lies and lame rationalizations. When trying to make slow, steady changes, we need to be accountable to someone other than us. (Let’s face it: if we could be trusted to shepherd ourselves, we wouldn’t be in this mess in the first place.) I don’t care who it is — your best friend, your priest, your mom, your neighbour, an online support forum, or heck, even your dry cleaner — you need someone other than you to report to. You also need someone to talk to about how things are going, as well as someone who will help encourage you, give you honest feedback, and celebrate the little victories along the way.
They can be cleverly disguised as friends, co-workers and even family members, but enablers are the people in your life who (either consciously or unconsciously) secretly want you to fail. There are three main types: those who want you to fail because they think it will make them look/feel superior, those who want you to fail because they don’t want to lose their cheesecake buddy or partner in (food) crime, and finally, those who want you to fail because they are afraid of change (and likely in deep denial of their own situation). Be on the lookout for them! They do exist, and they can be very, very persuasive.