Cris LaBossiere

Cris LaBossiere
Strength training and mountain biking. My two favorites

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Your best New Year's resolution

How do you feel when you make a New Year's resolution?  Do you feel good, elated that you're finally going to do something about those nagging procrastinations?

Is there any self doubt in whether or not you'll follow through?

How do you feel after 8 weeks when you've completely abandoned every effort to fulfill your resolutions?

New years resolutions are nothing more than a superficial cultural tradition that in reality amounts to little white lies we tell ourselves sprinkled with some mutual pats on the back for announcing that we're hitting the reset button for sure this year.

It's an act.  Everyone plays their part and we all behave as though the "new you" thing is real, that is until enough time has passed that we relieve ourselves from the roll-playing we do during the annual short term facade.

Come on, really.  Why the emphasis on January 1 compared to any other day of the year?  Break it down.  It really makes no sense at all.

The New Years resolution is dead before it starts as it's only made because of the cultural tradition, not because of a real sense of a need to do better.  Each year the tired and over-hyped rehearsal is repeated and nothing happens.

Let's remove the context of the annual prophecy illusion and look at how to turn around common tribulations like stress, weight issues, poor fitness, crappy eating, and smoking.

One of the most important investments we can make in changing any of our deleterious behaviours is working on changing our sense of reward we have with them.

If we really believe that smoking gives us something good in addition to something bad, we'll continue to justify doing it.  Ditto with overeating and burning the candle at both ends forgoing precious sleep to chase whatever it is we're chasing.

When healthy choices like fresh fruits and veggies, going to bed early, and getting regular exercise are seen as intrusions into our lives, we're unlikely to feel internally motived to make the changes we need to.

It's hard enough overcoming addiction and brain chemistry based adaptations that keep us in a negative spiral.  Why make it harder by trying to justify some level of "good" associated with bad habits?

Research shows us that when we value our bad habits we're more likely to find ways to gradually justify them more and more until we eventually return the way we were living before our New Years epiphany to do better.

My number one piece of advice, if I may, is stop lying to yourself.  That's a big one.  That means looking at denial in the face, accepting that big goals to reinvent ourselves overnight are just fluff we tell ourselves to feel good about voicing something that sounds good but really is fake.

Relief from setting unrealistic goals feels good.  Much less pressure.

Goals can work, I'm not saying no goals.

Start with something easy.. "why do I feel compelled to keep over eating (or whatever)".  Start finding the answer to that and you'll start finding the solution to how to stop.

Living healthy makes us feel really good.  It makes us stronger, smarter, more energetic, and more resistant to injury and illness.  That's worth it.

Maintaining bad habits delivers short term perceived reward, followed by misery.  What's the point in that?

Instead of making a goal to lose 10, 20, 30, 100 pounds, think about making healthy living something that's very rewarding.  If you make a goal to lose 10 pounds you may get there, then say; now what?

Chances are after a meeting a weight loss goal a person will feel justified to overeat and will regain all the weight lost, plus more.

When the goal is a lifestyle change and a change in values, beliefs, and sense of reward with healthy habits, it's more likely that a person will will be successful long term.

What's better, quitting smoking because it's bad, or because healthy living without smoking is far better?

Maybe the best idea isn't to try and delicate the two so much, and to recognize removing self harm and replacing with self help is more productive.  Simply quitting is a huge benefit.  Adding healthy habits adds more benefit.

Find ways to think positively about the changes you want to make, while maintaining a realistic recognition of the harm of unhealthy choices.

Make small changes gradually and think about adapting healthy habits for the purpose of living a healthy, happy life with fewer vices that drag you down.

Simple changes:

Go for a walk.

Do some push ups.

Eat an apple instead of a donut.

Double your veggie servings and reduce your meat serving.

Whatever you eat, eat less of it.

Go for a walk instead of lighting up a smoke.  (I used riding my bike to quit smoking).

When you see the success you can get with small attainable changes you may start seeing that you can make progress and leave the old habits behind.

Avoid having an endpoint or a certain deadline to achieve your "goal".  Make the goal to live with the new habits, this way it's a lifestyle change and a new purpose instead of a short term goal that will ultimately backfire because all you really did was use will power to avoid the bad habit that you still find rewarding.  Axe the reward association with the bad habit, work on feeling good about the new habit and the new will become the normal.

Try it.  Buy an apple, eat it.  That was easy!

Keep up the healthy habits most days for the rest of your life and you'll be set.