“For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction”. Newton said it best about human behavior even if he wasn’t studying us! If you are like many humans on this earth, you might have spent too much, ate too much, socialized constantly but exercised less and self-cared less.
Maybe your mind is starting to say, “time for some health changes”, “I want to reach my fitness goals”, “if only I could lose the weight I gained over the holidays”. Charlie Brown cue “Uggggh!”. How are you going to make those resolutions happen?
Let’s reconsider Newton’s third law of thermodynamics: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction? Resolutions can be like that. While we have a natural urge to revamp our entire lives on January 1st, the more extreme your makeover, the more likely you are to rebound in the opposite direction.
What can you do instead to make resolutions sustainable?
Don’t take on too much at once. Start with one resolution at a time. What are you most likely to be able to change? Maybe you can repeat a previous success, something that’s worked for you in the past. Or make a change that’s simple and easy, but you’ve never made a priority. Remember, resolutions are a marathon, not a sprint. The longer you stay with them, the more likely they are to make a change in your life.
Make goals an action, not a result.Don’t make your goal, “I am going to lose XX pounds or YY inches.” Make it something that you have control of. For example, “I will spend 20 minutes at the gym 3 days a week,” or, “I will eat one serving of vegetables with every meal.” Focus on the effort you will be putting in. If you stick with it, the results will follow.
Make it fun. If your goal is exercise, pick something you enjoy rather than something that’s a real bore. If it’s food, make sure you are eating food you like. If you don’t like something, you won’t stick with it.
Make a plan.Choose a goal. Figure out the time it will take. Fit it into your life. Allow yourself to change your schedule, if that’s what it takes, recognizing that this is important to you and you’d really like to make it work. Just thinking idly, “Wouldn’t it be nice if . . .” without pre-planning doesn’t often give us the impetus to maintain lasting change.
Team Up. See if you can team up with a friend or two. In this way you can compare notes about what works and what doesn’t. It can be more fun and motivating to do things together.
Reward yourself. It isn’t the size of the reward that matters, it’s allowing yourself to feel good because you’ve done what you said you would. Tell your friends or your spouse when you’ve reached a goal (“I’ve exercised ten times since the new year!”) Allow them to share your excitement. Patting yourself on the back will add the needed positive reinforcement to your regular routine.
At New Directions Mental Health, our team of committed caregivers is proud to offer their services throughout the Pittsburgh region. Please follow the link below to find a convenient location and schedule an appointment. We look forward to helping you on your journey to improved mental health.