Hint: resolve to ditch the resolutions. By Kristine L. Storlie
If you’re at all like me, the start of a new year can seem exciting, invigorating, and daunting all at the same time. Every year, I tell myself “this is MY year – I’m really going to [fill in resolution here] this time!”
Like many people, my resolutions generally revolve around getting in shape. I once boldly declared “I am going to lose 10 pounds by Valentine’s Day!” I made a “great” plan. (Eat only apples! Exercise until what looks like sweat is really tears!) I created lists of grueling, unrealistic steps required to reach my goal. I had index cards to organize different steps within each list. I had sticky notes with affirmations posted all over the house: “my hard work is paying off already!” “I honor my commitment to myself!”
I lost something by Valentine’s Day that year, but it definitely was not ten pounds. Rather, I lost my patience, my will, and my way. And I think I actually gained 5 pounds in the process. Why? The reason lies in the approach. I have since figured out that the expectations I was holding myself to were nothing more than a giant set of Wills, Shalls, and Musts, and they shut down my brilliant resolution (and the plan to make it happen) faster than a bout of E. Coli will close down a fast food restaurant.
It turns out that, for me, WSMs are the absolute worst way to bring about meaningful, personal change. The more I resolve (i.e. dictate to myself) that something Will, Shall and Must be done; the less likely it is that I will take even one real step in my planned direction. Like everyone else in this crazy world, too much of my life is WSM already! I WSM pay the bills, walk the dogs, feed the children, clean the house, etc., etc. WSMs are those things that are absolutes. If I don’t do them, or make sure they get done, then chaos ensues. Thus, when it comes to WSMs, I am, in fact, a necessary “dictator” of my own life. And that is true for all of us, in some ways. We all have obligations that just aren’t optional.
When it came to my plan for losing ten pounds by Valentine’s Day; however, I didn’t adjust well reporting to my dictator. In fact, I downright resented it. I wouldn’t (couldn’t) allow my dictator to boss me around this time! I felt like such a failure. I blamed it on a lack of self-control, but I was wrong. As much as I wanted to keep my resolution, at the end of the day, weight loss, in my case, simply wasn’t WSM. It wasn’t dictator territory.
It turns out, ignoring my dictator was a healthy thing to do. Studies show that there is a direct (and inverse) correlation between how we treat ourselves while trying to evoke personal change and the outcome of the change desired. In other words, most of us override our dictator eventually (in situations that truly are not WSM), rebel like I did, and end up achieving the polar opposite of our goals!
So this year, my only “resolution” is to do things differently. There are some healthy changes I’d like to make to my diet and exercise routine, but this year, I am going to take small steps and be realistic about change. (I didn’t get chicken-wing-arm triceps overnight, and they aren’t going to firm up overnight, no matter how many weights I lift!) Most of all, I will be kind to myself on the journey, because that’s what a permanent lifestyle change is: a journey. I found some great tips for proceeding on my voyage that I want to share with you, below.
1. Add, Don’t Subtract. Permanently changing eating habits is one of the hardest things a person can do. Let’s face it, we all know that the Standard American Diet is bad for us. While it is true that a diet of chemical-laden snacks with a 30-year shelf life is not a good long term eating strategy, sometimes a girl’s just gotta have her Twinkies or a Blizzard!!
Instead of radically cutting out all of your favorite foods, start by adding a serving of fruit or veggies and a few extra glasses of water to each day. Aim to reach the recommended 5-9 servings of veggies/fruit on most days, and to drink eight 8-oz glasses of water. Studies have shown that eating a healthy diet even 80% of the time can have a positive impact on your wellbeing, both mental and physical!
2. Schedule a Chiropractic Check-up before Beginning an Exercise Program. To perform optimally, many professional athletes work closely with a chiropractor, because they know that if even one spinal vertebra is out of alignment, it can affect the surrounding musculature and impinge nerves, thereby decreasing the efficiency of the body’s overall performance. Even for the casual fitness enthusiast, the same rule applies. Starting out an exercise program in proper alignment definitely ups the chances of success. Also, chiropractors are a great resource for exercise recommendations and instructions. So come and see us, and then get your sweat on!
3. Improve your posture. Your mom knew what she was talking about when she told you “stand up straight!” Proper postural alignment can ease back pain, help you appear (and feel) taller and slimmer, help you breathe better and even improve your mood! Ask a chiropractor to physically guide you into proper postural alignment (both standing and sitting), and then practice, practice, practice! Pretty soon, correct posture will come automatically, and your whole body will thank you for it!
4. Sleep. When you reach the end of a long day, the most critical thing you can do to help prepare for the success of the next day is to get quality sleep. Give yourself a wind-down period before bed. Turn off all of the electronics. Rest quietly or read a book. Make your bedroom your sanctuary. Decorate it in a way that you find restful, and make it as dark and quiet as possible for optimal sleep.
This year, I am going to put all of my WSM thoughts aside, and just enjoy my ongoing journey toward improved health and fitness. I hope you choose to do the same. If you catch the WSM dictator yelling in your ear, just tune out the noise, take a deep breath, and remember that every step you take toward wellness is a much-deserved investment in the rest of your life!
From all of us at Storlie Family Chiropractic, we wish you a happy, healthy New Year!