It is that time of year again
The time of year we all promise to make this year better than the last one. And while the first day of January is really just a rather arbitrarily placed day to begin the new year, there is something in our psychology about the thought of a “New Year” that makes that day feel special, like a fresh start.
Generally, most people’s goals for the new year include commitments to improve their health. For the majority of people, though––regardless of how real that feeling of a fresh beginning may have been leading up to the new year––waking up on January 1 likely feels like any other morning of the year. For many, you’re still shrouded in brain fog and feeling lethargic. Or, that same persistent pain is still there, keeping you from exercising.The same cravings for the same unhealthy foods are still there. No matter how real that feeling of a “fresh start” was, in reality, January 1 felt like every other morning. So much for that fresh start.
Is there a magic bullet for sticking to a New Year’s health resolution? Probably not. Breaking bad habits is as difficult in January as it is in July. It doesn’t happen overnight. (Most people cite the 30 day rule. I can promise that even after 30 days, you’ll crave unhealthy food and struggle to make good lifestyle choices.) However, there are some tricks that may aid in keeping your health goals for the New Year.
1. Be Realistic
If you are fifty or one hundred pounds overweight, you will not lose that weight by February. Or even March. Just like it took time for you to put that weight on, it takes time for that weight to come off. And while there are crash diets and other extreme measures that may aid in rapid weight loss, the implications for your overall health that result from such measures are not ideal. Furthermore, slowly and steadily making changes to your diet and lifestyle can help ingrain those good habits, making your weight loss more permanent. Be resolute, patient and realistic.
2. Make small changes.
Pretending that on January 1 you have become a new person is likely what sabotages many people’s New Year’s resolutions. Becoming that “new you” takes times, and as with any endeavor, many baby steps are typically more effective than giant leaps. At first, it could be something as simple as cutting out sodas or anything made with grain. It could be as simple as committing to changing one meal a day to fit within the frame work of the Phase 1 diet. Slowly modifying your lifestyle to fit within a Phase One framework may be more effective for some than attempting to change everything at once. (Obviously, if you are experiencing serious health symptoms, you should consult your doctor to see if more drastic dietary changes would help.)
3. Don’t make weight loss goals.
This may sound counterintuitive, but ridding yourself of the scale obsession may help you to focus on making healthy choices. Focus more on your diet, on eating foods you know contribute to good health. Focus on how you feel, your mental clarity, energy levels and vitality. Those are things you’ll feel immediately, and weight loss will likely follow. Commit to only weighing in once every week or two, just to check in.
4. Make a New Year’s resolution to enjoy yourself.
Diets and health regimens can feel like punishment for some people. No one wants to live a life of self-inflicted punishment. Learn to enjoy the Phase One diet––most of the foods are delicious. There is no need to subsist exclusively on kale. If going to the gym makes you feel like a rat on a wheel in a cage, there is literally an entire world outside. Find an activity that gets you off the couch, something that you enjoy.