Resolving resolutions

Saturday, 4 January 2014 - 1:40pm IST | Agency: DNA

Let’s face the truth: Most New Year resolutions do not last beyond the first couple of months. There are times that the first newly-forbidden chocolate is devoured by lunchtime on January 1 itself!

The long list of dos and don’ts that you swear you will stick to is usually not even worth the paper on which it’s written. Self-improvement is a grand gesture and a nice thought, but let’s face it, more often than not it never gets past the thought stage (and even if it does, we know how long it may last in it’s originally intended form).

No surprises there, because, after all, we’re all human. And the very thought of denying ourselves something — anything — invariably makes the desire for it irresistible.

In this article, I have planned to list down some of the most popular resolutions taken and reasons why they will never work. I suggest take my advice this New Year on how you can make them work... for a change.

Diet from January 1: The worst time to go on a diet is January 1. Party season is still on, wedding bells are ringing everywhere, vacations aren’t over and its winter season which tends to make us hungry. I understand there is no time like the present, but be realistic when you start the diet. The weight loss you achieve in the first few weeks is crucial for consistent compliance. My advice, sort your schedule out, get in a routine and start on a date where you can follow your resolution without any immediate hiccups.

Join a gym: We wake up in the New Year and decide it’s time to take control of the way our body is shaping up. Toned thighs and trimmed waistlines are the goal and we’re all energised to get started. Where we often go wrong is by taking up too much together. 50 squats, 100 lunges and non-stops ab-crunches will only leave you sore, and you will only do them for a few days before giving up or completely altering the plan. My advice, follow a progressive workout which is specific to your body type. Take expert help. Build up stamina gradually. Be patient. I promise you, the results you achieve eventually will not be discouraging.

Giving up chocolate: Or “having it once a week” or “only on a special occasion” or “have desserts and cookies with chocolates but not chocolate by itself.” I come across many such amusing chocolate resolutions only to see the person reaching a point of eventual frustration where the resolution is broken out of vengeance and desperation. My advice, don’t cut it out completely. Don’t have an entire bar of chocolate all at once, even if it’s on occasion; instead, have a small piece of chocolate every day. Is it ideal? No, but it’s a start.

Quit alcohol: One of the most common resolutions taken only to be broken after few months. My advice, think before you drink. Make a few practical changes in your drinking pattern such as limiting the number of drinks in a week or limiting the number of drinks in an evening (or afternoon!). Don’t exceed this, irrespective of an occasion or irresistible peer pressure.

Drink more water: We all know the benefits of water and that’s one of the reasons we need a resolution to remind ourselves that water needs to be consumed consciously. For someone who drinks water only when they actually feel thirsty, this resolution may not last. My advice, keep water accessible, in front of your eyes and within reach. If you don’t, this resolution will break in no time because out of sight is out of mind.

Eat frequently and on time: When you are just back from a holiday or getting yourself settled back into your routine after a busy social season, food can be the last thing on your mind. Forget eating small meals, there could be major meals you would forget eating completely. My advice, eating multiple meals in a day is the backbone of a successful diet plan and if you are not committed to doing so don’t begin your resolution. Give yourself 10 days to settle down and begin the regime on the 11th day. Trust me, you will be happier if you live up to your resolution.

Stop smoking: It’s every smokers dream to quit smoking ‘tomorrow’ and when the day arrives we tend to expect that self-discipline will magically take over. Sometimes it does for several days or weeks; but more often than not, we are soon overcome by feelings of being deprived. Frustrated, we give up and we’re back to old habits again. My advice, ask yourself whether you really want to change the habit, or whether you feel obligated to do so. If your heart isn’t in it, wait until a better time.

Personally, I’m not a fan of “resolutions” because often, people try to tackle too many changes at once and after two or three weeks, feel overwhelmed and decide it’s too difficult. It isn’t really worth making a weight loss resolution if you’re not fully committed. Let the new resolution with the new goal become a habit; and when it does at that point, you can layer another goal. Write down five health and fitness goals. List the obstacles for achieving each of them. Then pick the one goal which would be the easiest to achieve. Start there.

As I keep saying, don’t rush into anything on an impulse or out of guilt or because a new year is upon you. Without a bit of thought, planning and preparation, nothing will last very long. And you will find, regardless of your great intentions, you will soon be revenge eating and revenge drinking and revenge smoking.

New Year’s resolutions are not supposed to be punishments for “bad” behaviour. Let it be a gift you give yourself. There will be a bit of discomfort, sure, but that is a part of necessary transition.

Happy 365 New Days! Stay Healthy!

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