Monday, January 10, 2011

A New Day, A New Year...

Happy New Year!

Now, about those New Year Resolutions we all insist on having every year. Though I have a slightly different take on those, since it is January now, whatever was not already implemented in 2010 is now something we are struggling with and hopefull succeeding at. First rule of thumb is this: If at first you don't succeed, try, try and try again. My second rule is I have renamed them All Year Resolutions and not just to be implemented at the start of a new year. I believe that as soon as you recognize and decide the change is needed, you should plan for it in the near future if not immediately, so as not to load up this one magical day of the year with too many changes that you couldn't possibly keep to.

That being said. If you have more than three things on your list of New Year Resolutions, I suggest you stagger them. By that I mean set a date to implement each one so that you are not working on ten different things at once. I say that because if you get overwhelmed, you stand a huge chance of not succeeding at any of it. This is the advice I give with any kind of life changes, except if they are related. For example, if your resolutions are all along the lines of "I'll stop cheating on my spouse; I'll spend more time with family; I'll skip the strip clubs..." those to me don't count as different resolutions! They essentially count as one. But if on the other hand they are "I'll lose twenty pounds; I'll stop smoking; I'll stop taking prescription pain medications I'm dependent on..." then you might need to stagger it. I give the last example of course with my dear patients in minds. Those are probably three of the most common changes I hear people wanting to make, especially at the beginning of the year. Other common ones of course are alcoholism, non-adherence to medications or diets for diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol as well as preventive care.

Let me break it down for you. One of the hardest things to do at the same time is stop smoking and lose weight. This is because when you stop smoking, you gain weight. I think this is multi-factorial. People who smoke are used to having something to do with their fingers a lot of the time. They replace the cigarette with food. Also, many people have anxiety which the nicotin deals with and without the nicotine, they suddenly get very nervous and jittery and comfort eat. What I normally suggest is that you stop smoking first, allow yourself to gain whatever weight might come with it and figure out how to get past that and be at a stable weight before you try to lose weight, with or without help.

I know this is not the scenrio for the general populace or outside of a doctor's office setting of course. On the street, you might hear more of "I want to be closer to God this year; I want to start a business and be successful with it; I want to write a book; I want to be a better parent to my children; I want to be a better spouse; I want to be a better child to my parents..." etc.

We are not machines. We are humans. We want to do all these things but rather than set ourselves up to fail, I suggest we map out a plan to stagger it and once we achieve one or two goals and master them, we can take up the next challenge. I use the same technique with lifetyle nutritional changes (note we are not saying diet anymore) and that way, the ability to stick with the changes are permanent and not temporary or intermittent. In turn, the results are also more permanent.

I think the traditional way of approaching New Year Resolutions sets us up for failure and by the third month, many people have given up on many of their resolutions. It seems like it's too hard.

If you chose to adopt my approach, I would love to hear back from you by email or otherwise. I wish us all a fantastic year full of blessings, progress and growth. More importanly, let us remember to give back. Be a blessing to somebody else. That is the only resolution I am working on presently; to be a blessing. With the exception of less time on fecebook. Shhhh. You'll be surprised that by the time you are done, God has taken care of your business.


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