Making your life better by sticking to resolutions

Love ‘em or hate ‘em, it’s time to deal with it.

It’s everywhere you look right now and people either can’t stand hearing about it or love the conversation. No matter where you are on the spectrum New Year’s resolutions have a place.

Why do they even exist? What’s the big deal? Why New Year’s? Because it’s a clean slate. It’s a new start. It’s a chance to change. The thing is, you could make a resolution any time – summer, fall, Easter, Halloween, it doesn’t matter. The fact is that the turning over of the New Year brings hope to people. It’s a chance to change and start fresh. It also happens to follow a month of indulgence and parties, which can lead people to rebound back to structure and sanity. And that is not necessarily a bad thing.

Often at the start of a New Year, I will engage in an herbal cleanse from the local health food store to get my system back in line after several weeks of indulging in all of the tasty little treats I usually don’t have. Then for me, like a lot of people, it’s time to get serious about my fitness. January is when I get focused about my goals for the year, and usually I pick out all of my races and register for them, if I have not done so already. You could say that each race, is a resolution. By registering for the race, I resolve to be ready for that race. That sets in motion hundreds of hours of training, commitments, restrictions, dedication, and many, many more things.

That is all resolutions are – goals. It is a chance for you to say publicly or privately, “I have a goal, and I am going to change myself for the better.” Because it’s worth it. Not because you’re trying to impress anyone, or get attention, or try to follow everyone else around. It’s because you, as a human being, have a desire to be better. And that is awesome!

I love resolutions. I think they are absolutely fantastic, and I set them all year long and especially at this time. I actually build dream boards, where I take magazines and tear out images of things that I like, and I stick them to a large piece of cardboard and post it on my wall. Sometimes I hardly look at the vision board for the year, but almost always, I am stunned at the end of the year by how many things have come true. You’re really just quietly giving the subconscious part of your brain a target to shoot at. You may not be thinking about it on a daily basis, but somewhere in the dark recesses of your mind, gears are turning and things are in place. That is the power of setting goals, and making resolutions.

On the more public and social side of resolutions, most people fail, because they set weak resolutions that are not specific or not attainable. “I resolve to be more fit”. Great, go do five push-ups. Resolution complete. You are now more fit than you were 30 seconds ago. I don’t think that’s what you meant, but with a resolution so vague, you really need to be open to accepting any sort of result. If you really want a fitness resolution, make something very specific. “I resolve to do everything I can to drop 20 lbs. in the next three months. To accomplish this task, I will (join the gym, join a volleyball team, register for a Spartan race, or whatever it is you want to do to get you there).” The point is, you have to be specific, and you have to have action steps in place that are tangible and real.

“This year I resolve to have more money.” Great! How are you going to do that? You have to build a plan. Get a second job, work more hours, take an online course and get a raise, start selling something else, etc. You have to put something in place that will make the resolution happen, otherwise you’re just wasting your time like everyone else.

“This year I resolve to quit smoking.” Fantastic! How? If you tried to quit cold turkey on the first Monday of January or whatever date you set, then the first time you have a cigarette, you have failed and your resolution is over. Don’t do that. Instead, make a resolution to have a large glass of water before every cigarette you smoke. Now you have put a good habit in place, and after eight or nine glasses of water a day, you will not want another cigarette. (Plus all that water is good for flushing out toxins.) You will be reprogramming your basic brain function to not desire that cigarette after a while. It might take one, two or three months, but you will reduce your cigarette consumption to the point where quitting will be a lot easier.

So grab a resolution, and make your life better. It’s the only thing you can control. Don’t waste this chance because a lot of people think resolutions are stupid. You know better.

Scott McDermott is a personal trainer and the owner of Best Body Fitness in Sylvan Lake.

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