Make New Habits Instead of Resolutions by Amy Dungan

Make New Habits Instead of Resolutions
Photo by Samuel Ramos on Unsplash
Habits – good or bad, we all have them. It’s the bad habits that get us into trouble, and, sadly, most people will admit they probably have more bad habits than good ones. So as the new year rolls in, we start thinking about making resolutions. I’m not the biggest fan of resolutions, simply because they generally tend to end in guilt and self-defeating attitudes. I propose we do away with resolutions for 2012. Instead, let’s just work on changing habits, one step at a time. No deadlines, no pressure.

Weight loss is one of the most common goals this time of year. Whether you’re dealing with a little holiday weight gain, or you’ve been struggling with your weight most of your life, this one infirmity is probably near the top of your list. No one likes hauling around a few extra pounds, let alone extra weight in the triple or double digits. For most, it’s uncomfortable, embarrassing, and is unjustly perceived as a character flaw.

Is emotional eating one of your bad habits? This year look for other, non-health-destroying ways to deal with your emotions. Changing this one habit could be a huge step in losing or keeping off the weight. Try different coping methods until you find what works for you. Try doing something active; it keeps your mind occupied long enough to avoid the munchies, and your hands too busy to go digging around in the fridge. If you need an escape, try diving into your favorite novel – let it temporarily sweep you away until the emotions, and the urge to eat, have passed.

Are you a chronic couch potato? Allow yourself the time for exercise. Start small, just 10-20 minutes a day. It could be as simple as walk around the block, or as involved as strength training. Work on getting off the couch (or in my case, computer chair) a little each day until it becomes routine. Once you have that habit established, you’ll be amazed how much you’ll miss it when you skip a day. This is also a good time to update your exercise to something a little more challenging, as you will find you have a little more energy, or are stronger than when you started. Walk a little farther, lift a little more, add extra repetitions. What ever your case, get yourself moving and a little can eventually lead to a lot.

Maybe your demon is too much diet soda. Slowly cut back on the diet stuff and replace it with more water, or with tea. This is something I’m working on myself, and I’m already noticing a positive difference. Over time you come to crave water more than diet soda. Drinking water becomes a good habit. I once had a friend that gave up her beloved Pepsi for a year. It was tough, but she did it. When the year was up she allowed herself the much-desired drink. After the first couple of sips, she looked at me and said, “You know, this doesn’t even taste that good. I was craving this for nothing.” Now she rarely has one, where before she drank them daily. She’s lost weight too, without any other major dietary changes.

Believe it: Small changes can add up to big benefits. But these changes will not happen overnight. These are habits that need to be broken. I’ve heard it takes about 4 weeks to make something a habit, so I figure it takes at least that long to break one. It seems harder to break the old habits than to acquire new ones, so don’t be hard on yourself if you slip up now and then. Don’t assume you can’t ever do it, just because you didn’t succeed this one time.

Take each day of 2012 one day at a time. January 1st falls on Sunday, so concentrate on just getting through Sunday. When Monday rolls around, concentrate on getting through Monday, and so on. Don’t borrow worry from the future – the interest sucks. Don’t dwell on the past, you can’t change it. Instead concentrate on the here and now. You can do this. You can make big changes in your life, one small habit at a time.

© 2011 by Send Amy your comments to Amy Dungan.

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