How many New Year’s resolutions have you kept? To be painfully honest, I haven’t kept any!! After failing to keep one after another I finally gave up. It’s not that I didn’t want to improve myself or my life, but that I didn’t want to set myself up for another failure. Then a few years ago I found myself getting caught up in the moment, and I considered making resolutions again. But this time things would be different.
Lent on steroids
New Year’s resolutions always felt like Lent on steroids. If you are not familiar with Lent, it is the six week period between Ash Wednesday and Easter where many Catholics and Lutherans give up a bad habit or indulgence in observance of Christ’s sacrifice. While I managed to keep some of my Lent commitments, I would resume what I gave up the moment it ended. In fact, knowing that I only had to behave a certain way for six weeks is what made it possible. Expecting to keep a resolution for 52 weeks when I struggled with six weeks was ridiculous.
Redefining my intent
The problem with my past resolutions was that my intent was more of a punishment rather than a means to better myself. If weight loss was my goal, I would punish myself by forcing myself to follow a diet that I wasn’t thrilled with. I expected my body to keep up with a rigorous exercise routine without breaks. While wanting to exercise or lose weight were and still are great intentions, I had to want to do them in order to better my life and not as a way to punish myself. Instead of telling myself that I have to lose so many pounds by a certain date, I asked myself what changes can I make to prevent more weight gain and possibly lose a few pounds? I examined why I wanted to change my diet beyond weight loss. What is it that I really needed or intended to achieve? By replacing a specific goal with a more general one of wanting to be healthier my intentions became realistic. I could eat healthier and still enjoy a piece of chocolate now and then. When I denied myself of all pleasurable foods, I would crave them more than if I allowed myself an occasional treat.
Resolving to commit
Instead of resolving to do things that were either unrealistic or that felt like a punishment, I began committing to bettering my life. The resolution I made for 2017 was to commit to moving my body. Notice how I replaced exercising with moving? That is because, in the past, exercise was a punishment for gaining weight. I also replaced unrealistic expectations of exercising for x amount of hours every day of the week. I have a chronic illness that has a mind of its own, and I had to learn to work with it. So what if I can’t exercise the way I think I should every day? By committing to move my body every day, even if that means doing simple stretches while on bed rest, I have been able to keep my commitment. You might think of my commitment was too easy or not grand enough to count as a resolution, but you would be wrong. In the past, I would give up the moment my body failed me, but I have been able to keep up with this commitment because it is realistic and doable.
This year I am taking my commitment to eat better up a level. My ultimate goal is rid my diet of all processed foods. I have made great strides and plan to make more in the New Year. By taking my time, I am less apt to binge on what I shouldn’t have and more likely to succeed at reaching my goal.
What will you commit to?