Sometimes the universe conspires to send you a message. I got one on Christmas morning.
While visiting with my mother, she mentioned she had a small table with drawers she was thinking of getting rid of because it was in the way. I looked at it and realized it was just what I needed for a place at my house and said I’d be happy to take it off her hands.
She started emptying it out. There wasn’t much in the drawers, just some old audio cassettes that hadn’t been thought of in ages. Then mom picked up a few small leaflets and said, “What are these?”
I looked at what she was holding and started to laugh. It was food lists and logs from my stint in Weight Watchers back in 1994.
With the new year right around the corner and my waistband feeling a bit snug from the sugar and spice and everything nice diet I’ve indulged in since Halloween, I got the message loud and clear. It’s time for me to reconsider my diet.
Dieting, exercise and quitting smoking are among the most popular of New Year’s resolutions. I think it’s because we all go a little off the rails during the holidays. I have absolutely no willpower where sugar cookies and icing are concerned. And there’s usually more than a moderate amount around this time of year.
It’s also cold outside. That really makes it hard to stick with an active lifestyle. It’s been so cold and wet outside even my puppy, Bogey, doesn’t want to go for really long walks right now. He’s pretty happy to turn around at the nearest stop sign and return to the warm house.
Of course, the best of intentions can do little to make you stick to a resolution, whatever it may be, from quitting smoking to eating better to moving more or spending less money. That’s why most resolutions are forgotten before we turn those calendars from January to February. But there are some things you can do to make sure your resolutions aren’t thrown aside.
First, remember that sweeping changes are likely to be forgotten quickly because it’s just too hard to change everything in one fell swoop. Instead of saying I’m never going to eat sugar again, try saying you resolve to eat more healthy in the coming year.
Accountability is a big boost to resolve. Tell others what you’re doing and recruit friends to help keep you motivated. Want to exercise more? Get a friend to exercise with you. You’ll be accountable to each other and will be less likely to pass on your time at the gym just because you’re tired and it’s been a long day.
Resolutions don’t have to be negative, either. The way you phrase your resolution can be a big factor in how well you keep it. Write it down and focus on the upside — I’m going to eat more strawberries and kiwi and blueberries this year. Keep that note where you can see it. I’m making a big sign for my refrigerator door, so I can be reminded every time I go for a snack.
Consistency is also important. Setting a daily goal can be easier to keep because you think about it every day. Setting one big goal may seem like the best idea, because you’d really see some changes if you made it to that goal weight or running a marathon, but there’s lots of little steps that need to be taken if you’re moving from a couch potato to crossing the finish line in the New York Marathon. Celebrate those small steps and, one day, you’ll get to your goal. Or maybe you’ll find a new goal. Review your resolution and change based on what you see is working and what isn’t.
And if you do fall off the wagon, pick yourself up, dust yourself off and try it again. You don’t have to wait for the new year to do something that’s good for you.
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Heather Mullinix is assistant editor of the Crossville Chronicle. Her column is published each Tuesday. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.