Often around this time of year, people make all sorts of resolutions, usually around their weight or their workouts or their money spending habits or resolving to use less profanity or some such behavior modification.
In the 44 years that I have been involved with fitness and health, both as a provider and as a consumer, I’ve noticed the trends that you may have experienced yourself. People frequently start off well in January, and then dwindle down and revert back to their old lifestyle of inactivity, overeating and unhealthy lifestyle.
Sometimes this takes only a matter of weeks and sometimes although the intentions are good, some people never quite get started on the New Year’s make-over.
You may have heard that it takes 21 days to create a new habit. However, this is not just a passage of time thing. During those 21 days, the new habit must be re-enforced with positive outcomes so that the positive new habit becomes strongly ingrained in your routine as well as in your psyche.
You can try to depend on others to re-enforce the habit, but likely they are quite busy with their own agenda, so you must re-enforce it yourself or get a paid professional to help you with that.
Some examples of re-enforcement that are positive and will assist you in keeping the change going are to make note of each time you do the positive behavior —such as selecting a nutritious and wholesome lunch choice or working out or avoiding losing your temper, whatever your goal — and then providing yourself with a small reward. That could be a token or a sticky star that you can save up until you have, let’s say, 20 of them, and then you can treat yourself to a movie or a new shirt or something nice that you want for yourself.
Other ways of positively re-enforcing your new healthy habits is self-talk. Congratulate yourself, tell yourself how great you are doing and how fabulous you are going to look and feel in just another couple of weeks. Self-talk is a very powerful motivator and we are very susceptible to being told that we are doing a good job.
On the other hand, criticism and negative talk stops anyone in their tracks. No one responds to negative dialogue no matter how gently it is framed.
My dissertation for my doctoral degree was in large part devoted to the subject of motivation as well as teamwork and leadership and the research shows conclusively, that people need time, clear positive instruction, strong intention and support in order to accomplish great things.
Changing lifelong habits is difficult when you are surrounded with apparent obstacles such as traffic congestion on the way to the gym, heavy workload at your place of employment, lack of knowledge concerning proper eating and workout criteria, an unsupportive partner, workmates or family and friends.
Most obstacles I put in the class of “obstacles of illusion.” You can choose to live a healthier, happier and more fit lifestyle once you rid yourself of the notion that you are too busy, too far gone, too tired or whatever. Here’s an example of what I mean by an “obstacle of illusion.”
Let’s suppose that you have come home from a hard day’s work and you feel bone tired. You just want to lie down, eat something and go to bed.
All of a sudden, the phone rings and it is your best friend from school who you haven’t seen for years. They are at the Honolulu airport and are catching a flight over in an hour and they want to get together with you.
What happened to your tiredness? You obviously excitedly tell them you will meet them at the Lihue airport and maybe you start thinking of place that you could take them to eat or you think of what you could get for them to drink and eat. See? Tired? Obstacle of illusion. Most obstacles really are illusion. There’s always a way.
Changing gears and going for a bright and happy, healthy New Year can be an exciting and fun adventure. Meeting new people who are singing from the same song sheet as you, is fun and can be very supportive.
If you are a little on the shy side or you don’t have any sense of where to start hire, a trainer such as myself who can give pointers to get you headed in the right direction.
As a new member at the KAC you will get a free session with me to show you around and get you going on a program. I wish all the many blessing of the New Year that you could imagine. Aloha nui loa!
Dr. Jane Riley, EdD., is a certified personal fitness trainer, nutritional adviser, and behavior change specialist. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, 212-8119 cell/text and www.janerileyfitness.com.