A patient of mine came in last night and was wearing obvious workout attire to his appointment. This was nothing new. He is a very avid outdoor enthusiast and has always been in great shape. I asked him if he was heading to the gym after his visit. He nodded and with some disappointment in his voice said “but I just drove by the gym on my way here and the parking lot is PACKED because of all the ‘New Year’s crowd’. But it will die down soon enough.”
New Year’s resolutions can be a great way to kickstart some positive change in your life. Whether that change makes you healthier, happier, or more productive, this can be a good thing. But why do most people fail? Why do people give up on their goals? The answers are many but I’m going to share some tips based on what I have seen with patients in my chiropractic practice. Let’s look at some common pitfalls and what you can do to avoid them.
1. Lack of Planning
A plan is a critical part of any attempt to make a fundamental change in your lifestyle. If your goal is to “lose weight,” you need a detailed plan on how you are going to do it. What nutritional methodology are you going to utilize? What lifestyle changes are you going to make? How will you measure your progress? Be specific! If that plan includes “getting to the gym more,” make a plan of exactly what days and what time you are going to go. What things are you going to give up to meet your goal? If this means you have to make changes in other parts of your life (meal prep, getting house chores done, etc.) have a plan for taking care of those duties as well so they don’t become roadblocks.
2. Improper Motivation
If you want to lose weight so you can win the favor of Jim from accounting, you are setting yourself up for failure. What if Jim gets transferred out of state? What if he fell in love with someone else before you could get back in shape? Now your plan just blew up and your motivation is gone. This will lead to failure and disappointment. Instead, focus on goals that pertain to you and your long term well-being. The rest will take care of itself. Motivate yourself with goals of better health, more vitality, or improved self-image.
3. Unrealistic Goals
If you make a goal of quitting smoking cold turkey on January 1st, remember that you have a single-digit probability of succeeding. In addition, you just made an all-or-nothing deal with yourself. If you cave and have just one cigarette on January 15th, you just failed your goal and you will most likely undo all the work you put in and be right back where you started. Instead, break it down into single steps. For instance, make a goal of X cigarettes per day, then X per week. Have scheduled dates to reassess the plan.And don’t have a plan of looking like “celebrity X” in “movie Y.” Actors and actresses have trainers that work around the clock to get them into shape for those movies. They also utilize ahem…pharmaceutical interventions…. to achieve these goals in addition to using dangerous methods like laxatives and dehydration to look as lean as possible for the day of the shirtless and bikini shoots. They do not look like that year round.
4. Lack of Support
Any change of lifestyle will suffer if your significant other is not on board. I have seen this time and time again, especially with changes in nutrition. If hubby is still keeping the fridge stocked with soda, ice cream, and hot pockets, the temptation can often be too great to avoid these foods. The same is true with smoking, drinking alcohol, or exercise routines. If you can convince your better (or lesser) half to join you, your chances of success skyrocket. If not, then you need to have a serious talk with this person. Express how important this is to you and that you need support. Perhaps if you can do it, you can motivate your partner to join you.
New Years resolutions can be a great way to achieve better health, be a better parent, or a better employee. But don’t make a resolution just for the sake of making a resolution. You need to be serious and you need to be specific in your goals and your plan. I wish you the best of luck and a happier and healthier New Year!
Dr. Jared Plemon BS, DC is a doctor of chiropractic at Zehr Chiropractic in Norton Shores, Michigan. He specializes in the treatment of neck pain, back pain, and extremity pain utilizing cutting edge, non-manipulative chiropractic techniques. He blogs about nutrition, exercise, and how chiropractic care fits in with the overall health landscape. He lives in West Michigan with his wife and two children.