I was a diary writer from a young age and every New Years Day, I loved to get out the brand new Letts diary Christmas present.
The first day of the year, so fresh and clean like the first diary page, so full of hope and optimism. I would consider how I would like the year to unfold and invariably every single time, my weight would factor in there. I would go weigh myself and write – current weight 85kgs, this year get to 65kgs.
There was no concrete plan as to how to do this. Sometimes it was just thoughts of “I am really going to stick to xyz diet” or “I am going to run and exercise every day.” But a few days in and usually it was shot to pieces, that ice cream or chocolate being just too tempting and when you have a bit, you have ruined everything, so you might as well eat the lot; or so the crazy out of control psycho in my head told me.
My birthday is on the 9th of January, so a fantastic opportunity to restart and keep it up THIS time. However a few more family birthdays and once again, it wasn’t to be and this cycle of goal setting for my weight carried on for fifteen years without success. Slow learner I know!
So why do we fail?
Some would say lack of commitment, lack of motivation, not trying hard enough, but I’m not so sure. Habits are funny things, ingrained over many, many years, they wear a kind of groove in your brain (neural pathway) and you can’t just jump out of that groove and think to yourself, “right, I am now a super model,” and expect it to stick. There are many forces at work cajoling you back into your groove and it kind of sneaks up on you, unconsciously until you are back in your well-worn path.
Sometimes too the goal you set for yourself is far too high or too hard and requires super human strength and determination to stay anywhere near it. Take for example boot camp type training, so you are all fired up to do it three times a week at the crack of dawn and you start all full of enthusiasm. However very soon you are tired from all the early morning starts, sore from the relentless workouts, life gets in the way and you decide to skip a few sessions, until you are skipping more than you are doing and it all falls apart.
Is it lack of motivation? Is it a lack of willpower to make yourself do it? If you were really honest, you would probably figure out that it’s because you hate it and maybe just a walk after work a few times a week is something that you can actually stick to forever. Because doing something forever is actually what it takes to make a permanent change.
Boot camp forever? No thanks.
Starvation diet forever? Double no thanks.
So it’s not actually the New Year’s resolution that is the problem, it’s the concept of major overhaul all at once that is actually the issue. If the change you are making is small enough, you have a better chance of keeping it up and making another small change after that, until you are where you want to be without all that gargantuan effort. I think we are programmed to believe trying hard is what it takes, such drama queens.
It was another New Year’s Day diary writing session when I weighed myself to write in my weight again and I was over the moon to find that I had reached my goal weight and I didn’t even know it!
It was all the tiny changes I had made throughout the year that resulted in the 15-year goal conquered! No big diet torture, no hateful exercise program, no having to try hard, no drama, just little tweaks plus time equals freedom forever!
How will you make your New Year’s Resolution stick this year?
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