New Year’s resolutions are usually setups for frustration. But if you do them right, they can get you moving. So what makes a good resolution?
Like any action plan, New Year’s resolutions should be about behaviors, not results. “I will eat more fiber,” not “I will lose weight.” You can’t control results, but you can control what you do, up to a point.
Resolutions should be specific. “I will eat green vegetables twice a day” is better than “I will eat more fiber.” That way, you’ll know if you did the resolution or not, and you’ll know how to you want to do it.
Resolutions should be realistic. If exercise for you means getting up to change the channel instead of using the remote, running a marathon this year is not realistic. (Although putting the remote away is a good idea. There’s a resolution you could do.)
Resolutions should be something you want to do, not something you think you should do. Like if you really love pasta, saying you will give up pasta this year might not motivate you. Committing to find some low-carb pastas might be better.
Of course, you need to be flexible. Some things work and some don’t, or they work for a while, then life changes and they don’t work anymore. It’s OK to change a plan. But think about it and do it intentionally, not by just letting things slide.
Here are some resolutions readers are making:
Exercise. More movement is always good, but there’s no need to overdo it. I’m working with one woman who walks about a block each day. She’s planning to increase it to three blocks by March and will do mall-walking if the weather is too awful. Remember, any movement counts as exercise, so make it something you like to do.
Food. Try new foods, reduce portion sizes, eat more regularly, check after-meal blood sugars to see how certain foods are affecting you.
Relaxation/meditation. If you can’t do 30 minutes a day of relaxation, can you do 20? Can you do 10? 5? Any relaxation time is better than none. Same with exercise. If you can’t do a mile, can you do a block? Or half a block? Then you can build up.
Social contact. One man wrote me that he knows loneliness is not helping him. He decided to start having lunch at his local senior center, instead of eating alone. Note that social contact only helps if it’s with people you like, or at least nice people. Hanging out with jerks is not good for you, and one good resolution would be to stop seeing people who make you feel bad.
Helping others/the world. If you can think of one thing you can do to help those in need, you will be making the world a better place and helping yourself. Getting involved in a good cause is also a healthy resolution. The world needs all the help it can get right now.
Have fun. If you never enjoy yourself, what’s the point of living? Why manage your diabetes? One client told me that she hadn’t had fun in years. She had forgotten how to enjoy herself. We talked about it, and she came up with the idea of playing cards with some old friends who have a weekly game she used to go to.
Music/rhythm. This is easy. Just commit to turn on the radio or a computer program like Pandora. You can dance to it or sing along or just listen. Music has amazing health benefits.
Learn something new. If you haven’t been exposed to new ideas or learned new skills in a while, you might like to pep up your mind. Take a class at a local school or online, or get some books on a topic you don’t know. It might bring some excitement back into your life.
Of course, there are dozens of other possibilities. For example, saying “no” more often. Saying “yes” more often. Hugging someone three times a day. Just keep them realistic and specific and pick things you like, and resolutions can be helpful.
They’re not necessary, though. A good resolution would be to blow off resolutions for this year and live each day as it comes. Whatever you do, I hope 2015 really rocks for you. Wishing everyone more love and less glucose!
You can read more like this in my book The Art of Getting Well, some of which is online at this link.