Given up on your resolutions? We may be just a little stymied from our past habits of making unrealistic new year’s resolutions. This is especially true of making new year’s resolutions regarding our health. And the reality of permanent change in health behavior is much different than what we envision it to be. Let’s think about some of these unrealistic expectations which potentially sabotage us, thus preventing us from becoming the kind of health-oriented people we want to be.
Unrealistic expectation #1-We adhere to weird ideas to get fit. For example, we need to eat like rabbits to lose weight. Slender athletic people do not forego eating chocolate, pastries, ice cream, fatty foods, big steaks or any of the other sinfully delicious foods we associate with being on the “bad” unhealthy list of foods to avoid. Slender, athletic people do eat such items, they just do so in small quantities or as an occasional treat. They enjoy them and do not feel guilty when partaking of them.
Unrealistic expectation #2-We want too much too fast. We think if we just suffer off say, 35 pounds by making ourselves miserable with super-charged workouts and some weird diet regime that the problem is done. We then think the problem is therefore resolved once and for all and we can return to living life as usual, unhealthy habits and all.
Unrealistic expectation #3-We externalize the problem of changing our health habits. “If only I joined the health club, I’d automatically start being a healthier person.” Well, that’s a good start, a really, good one at that, but in truth, it takes more than just acquiring the membership. We need to develop the proper mental framework that embraces the whole healthy lifestyle. This includes incorporating an exercise routine into our day.
“A sound mind in a sound body,” claimed the Greek philosopher Thales (624-546 BC) is a vital and close association between physical exercise, mental health and the person’s ability to enjoy life. In the New Testament, the would-be spiritual person is adjured to “First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.” (Mathew 23:26.) The great Greek philosopher Plato reported that Socrates once relayed to a young man that “…it is best to cure the soul before curing the body, since health and happiness ultimately depend on the state of the soul.”
So, given these centuries-old perceptions on whole mind/body relationships and health, what are some realistic expectations we can have of ourselves that will best facilitate achieving a healthier lifestyle?
Realistic expectation #1-We are (or become) who we associate with. Hey if you hang out with people who love to ski, hike, bike and workout, chances are, you will do so eventually as well too. So, make it a buddy time at the health club or a family activity to go for a swim or do some classes together. Keep good company, or so the motto goes, and that will determine what habits we develop.
Realistic expectation #2-Make sure you LIKE the kind of exercise you undertake so that you will keep coming back for more, so to speak. The Alaska Club has a huge variety of classes, swimming, tennis, cardio, weights, yoga to choose from. There is literally something for everybody.
Realistic expectation #3-Build your motivation not by the “evidence” of what you have done but by the rhythms you are trying to create. Don’t jump on the scale every day. You’ll drive yourself nuts. Focus first on what you are DOING (i.e., going to the health club three to four times a week, doing 45 minutes of cardio and 15 minutes of stretching as examples.) If you must quantify something, then let it be behavior, activities, minutes on the treadmill, reps on the weights, etc.) Ignore the body for a while. Just focus in on getting in the groove. Let the mind lead and the body will follow.
This can be the year of the new you. It starts from within, with dispelling unreasonable expectations and cultivating reasonable ones along with creating patterns of healthy living. We are in this for the long haul. We're only a month in, let's stay on track.