Are New Year’s resolutions truly meant to be broken or are we supposed to just make more realistic ones? Every year, my patients come into my clinic with summaries of their goals for their health in the upcoming new year…but unfortunately, the same staunch resolution in their voices start to sound like waning interest when discussed again months later. So, how can we possibly get ourselves to stick to our health resolutions for 2012?
The most common reason why we can’t stick to our New Year’s resolutions is typically because they are not specific enough. Another reason is that because they are too vague (and hence too difficult to execute to the point where you are consistently getting positive feedback in the form of tangible improvements), that lack of measurable advancement causes you to lose interest in the initial goal.
For example, if you created a company and your resolution is to “make it be successful and make a lot of money,” you would have a hard time making that happen without more specifics right? Like, how will you make it successful, what will you do for marketing, what is your product, what is your budget for each department, and how will you make money, just to name a few issues.
Health resolutions are the same…you need to clarify the specifics. For example, when you say you’ll “eat less junk food,” you need to change that resolution to something more achievable and less vague. Such as, “I will not buy junk food to keep in the house” or “I will give myself 10 minutes before giving into a craving and drink a cup of water first” or “I will always go for a walk or do jumping jacks or do push-ups for five minutes before I give in to a craving to see if I can bypass that craving with exercise.”
These more specific examples of health resolutions will allow you to actually work towards one goal and be able to achieve that instead of saying “I will eat less” or “workout more.” Because what is “less” or “more”? When the resolution is vague, people are less likely to stick to it. But when it is specific, such as “I will always eat vegetables and drink a glass of water at the beginning of every meal before I eat anything else,” it is easier to make sure you do exactly that…and these little habit changes amount to a lot of health improvement in the long run.
So, when you are surrounded by friends and family or if you are cozy in your pajamas on New Year’s Eve as you ring in the New Year, just remember that your resolution doesn’t have to be a grand gesture of any kind…just a simple specific promise to yourself will be enough.
Ultimately, simple, practical, and most importantly, do-able changes in your life are the changes that will lead you to tremendous health benefits. And as you see tangible health improvements and feel your clothes becoming looser on your more toned and trim body, these measurable benefits will help you to maintain that staunch resolution and excitement you get in January well into the summer months and beyond!
Dr. Julie T. Chen, M.D. an integrative medicine physician who is board-certified in internal medicine and is also fellowship-trained and board-certified in integrative medicine. She has her own medical practice in San Jose, CA, is the medical director of corporation wellness at several Silicon Valley-based corporations, is on several medical expert panels of websites as well as non-profit organizations, is a recurring monthly columnist for several national magazines, and has been featured in radio, TV, newspaper, and magazine interviews. She incorporates many types of healing modalities into her practice including, but is not limited to, medical acupuncture, Chinese scalp acupuncture, clinical hypnotherapy, strain-counterstrain osteopathic manipulations, and biofeedback. To learn more about Dr. Julie, you can check out her website at www.makinghealthyez.com.