December has arrived and the year is starting to wind down. And at the end of the month, those of us on the Gregorian calendar will be celebrating the arrival of a new year. With that celebration comes an avalanche of New Year’s resolutions.
Humans have been obsessed with dates since we figured out the first calendar. That’s imprinted on our psyche and our belief systems. So it’s no surprise that January 1st has some kind of mystic quality to it. It’s almost like we think setting our goals to start on that day will magically help us achieve them. But as most of us know, that isn’t true.
Yet so many of us wait until January 1st to eat healthier, to go to the gym regularly, to be mindful. Why?
One word: procrastination.
Most of us procrastinate to one degree or another, but New Year’s resolutions are the ultimate tool in the procrastinator’s toolbox. You’ve heard that saying “Why do today what you can put off till tomorrow?” Well New Year’s resolutions take that idea to a whole new level: “Why do today what I can put off until next year?”
Today, I’m here to challenge you to stop that procrastinating instinct with weight management. We know that January 1st isn’t magical. We don’t need that date to have a new beginning. So here’s the new question we need to be asking:
“Why put off until January 1st what I can do today?”
I know, I know—you have a million reasons. Holiday shopping, family obligations, work—the list goes on and on. But why do we procrastinate on something as important as our health?
It’s because we don’t prioritize it. We don’t see the value of taking care of ourselves, when in fact, taking care of ourselves is the number one way to take better care of everything and everyone in our lives. Think about it: if you’re running on empty, what do you have to give to others? You may meet all of your obligations, but you’re left feeling spent emotionally and physically. We don’t want that. So, we have to start thinking of weight management as a priority.
How do we do that? First, think about your health. When it comes to your health, managing your weight can only be positive. There is no downside.
Second, don’t think of it as something that is being done to you, think of it as something that is being done for you. This is regardless of whether you’re doing it on your own or have a weight management program team assisting you. Your inner motivator is always the strongest.
Third, realize that weight management has the potential to positively affect every area of your life. A study conducted by Cheng and Oaten at Macquarie University placed individuals on an enforced strict exercise program. Just exercise. They then measured various habits including: smoking, alcohol consumption and junk food consumption. Remarkably, by the end of the study, the individuals who adhered to the exercise program dropped their rates of smoking, alcohol consumption and junk food consumption.
This made the researchers wonder if it was just the exercise that did it. It wasn’t. The same study was conducted by replacing the exercise program with a study skills program for college students in one study and a financial management program in another study. The results were always the same. Control of one area affected other areas positively. The same is true of weight management.
Now that we know that we need to prioritize our weight management, we need to work with the second obstacle that tends to rear its head:
Most everyone has that room or closet in their house that things get shoved into. It’s easy to pull the door closed and not think about it. But, one day, you have a spark of inspiration to face that room and get things organized. As soon as you open the door, you’re overwhelmed.
Here, you have three choices:
- Close the door and say “I’ll handle that later.”
- Walk into the room, move a couple of things but mostly stare at it all and wonder what on earth you’re going to do.
- Have a plan before opening that door and as soon it’s open, execute that plan.
Now, maybe the first choices are what we want to do but they are not what we need to do. We need to go with the third choice. Weight management is just like that room. So let’s talk about the plan.
Before you start, the first thing you need to do is realistically prepare yourself for the amount of time things are going to take. For some people, the room is going to take a couple of hours to organize. For others, that room may take a few days. Here, it is best to err on the side of caution and overestimate. Because if you expect the room to be done in two hours and it’s not, you’re going to get frustrated. Same is true of weight management.
Once you’ve gotten a realistic view of the timeframe, start counting every victory. If you get a corner cleaned out, that’s a victory—just like it’s a victory if you go for your planned walk or exercise. It’s all a series of small steps. Your homework is to start thinking of your weight management in the same way you’d think of that room.
Weight management takes perseverance. The first few weeks may be motivating because it’s brand new and we’re making progress. But as time goes on, we may make missteps, have disappointments and wonder why we’re doing this. However, I believe that everyone has a spark or an inner motivation that can carry them through the difficult times and lead them to success in their weight management venture.
Over the next few weeks, we will be focused on finding that spark and how to build that spark into a flame. By the time the new year rolls around, you can be well on your way to a healthier 2018!