© 2011 Nancy Appleton PhD & G.N. Jacobs
Resolutions, we’ve all made them. Usually, they last two weeks. So how do we give ourselves the best chance of meeting the next batch due in just a few weeks?
Perhaps the problem is that we attach too much to New Years as a time of new beginnings. We get too worked up over the change in calendar, which could put so much pressure on “I resolve to eat better and exercise” or “I resolve to read more books.” The pressure can cause us to freeze up and fail the resolution.
One possible way to give yourself a chance is to shift the New Years metaphor to some other date. Start the regimen in March quietly and without fanfare and maybe you’ll last long enough to change a few bad habits. My son, a writer, for the past two Novembers has tried to write a 50 thousand word novel in thirty days. He got close both times glad to take a half-loaf victory until he came across a suggestion to shift adherence to the challenge to August from another writer. Apparently, this writer admitted he enjoyed the fall TV schedule too much.
But, deferring the promise to yourself until an easier time with less pressure may not be enough to make things work. Some of us still need to figure out a way to eat less sugar and exercise more, right now. In almost no cases do I recommend anything like going cold turkey when it comes to such difficult things as cutting down on sugar, losing weight or becoming healthier. Few people can just quit sugar or any of the other harmful addictive foods in their diet. This is how New Years resolutions crash and burn.
My favorite trick is the half as much as yesterday approach, which I first discussed in my first book Lick the Sugar Habit. Take stock of your sugar intake today and then eat half as much tomorrow. Repeat the process the day after that. In a purely, mathematical sense using half as much sugar means you’d never completely cut out sugar. But, in the real world there is a fuzziness in measurement that means eventually within a week or so you’ll be eating so little sugar that making the last jump to eating no sugar becomes easier.
I used a similar technique when I first got my kids off sugar. Many years ago we were traveling in England and I told them they could have one sugar filled item per day. Of course, I’d already dumped the cakes and colas that were waiting for us at home. My children went with the new regime without complaint and three weeks later we came home to house where the only sugar my kids ate came from outside the house.
Lastly, it is real important to seek help from other people trying to deal with your resolutions. When all else fails talking to other people with the same concerns can help when making major life changes. This is how Alcoholics Anonymous and other support groups work. People contemplating that piece of cheesecake can sometimes only be talked down by a friend. In my area of expertise, nutrition, I’ve dealt with many support groups that can help people from eating too much. My favorite is Food Addicts in Recovery because they seem to specialize in sugar addiction, but I’ve seen equally good results from Overeaters Anonymous and Food Addicts Anonymous. I don’t have as much experience with the for profit weight loss programs like Jenny Craig and Nutrisystem, but I support anything that comes with a support system.
A person with the right plan and support can do anything, so whether waiting for an off month to start, using some variation of the half as much plan or reaching out for the right help any reasonable resolution is achievable. Do your best.