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With 2022 coming to a close, it’s that special time of year where we can put the past behind us and put way too much pressure on ourselves to become an entirely new person. Chill, my friend. People with more education than I have will be the first to assure you that these lofty goals can only lead to disappointment and feelings of failure, should you be unable to meet these self-imposed, Olympic high-jump demands. So, why don’t we try going easy on ourselves? Reso-lite-tions, if you will.
Let’s start with the most popular resolutions and see if we can’t find a way to make them a little more doable:
1. Losing Weight.
“I want to lose weight,” you say. Doesn’t everybody? But instead of forcing yourself into a doomed regimen of starvation from the moment you wake up January 1, let’s make a simpler, achievable plan.
A simple rule of thumb is: to lose weight, you have to consume fewer calories than you burn. You can start by cutting sugar or carbs—or sugar AND carbs, if you’re feeling bold. Personally, I found intermittent fasting to be very helpful in dropping pounds. This is where you only eat during a certain “window” of time, which reduces your caloric intake naturally, instead of monitoring it mathematically. There are different approaches to IF, but for me, it ostensibly amounts to skipping breakfast, and—since you can still eat relatively as you would otherwise—you don’t feel too deprived. You can research and give IF a try if it seems right to you.
If embarking on a new dietary regime, I recommend giving yourself a cheat meal/day each week. You will find yourself living for them, and it will make it easier to stick to your plan during the rest of the time.
If you have a highly caloric indulgence you enjoy regularly, find a substitute. Having cut out sweets myself, I now thrill at the prospect of ingesting my fruit-flavored gummy vitamins every night. Yes, I know that’s a little sad, but, if you change your mindset, it becomes a little funny.
2. Exercising More.
This ties into the above, of course, but you’re in trouble if you tell yourself, “I’m going to exercise every day!” I mean, sure, that’d be great. But things happen, and one slip up can throw you off the whole practice. Try something more manageable, like exercising twice a week. That doesn’t mean you can’t do it more often—and you’ll feel great if you exceed your goal. But you want to avoid making extreme goals that, when you fail to reach them, encourage you to give up altogether.
Additionally, don’t box yourself into the belief that “exercise” necessitates an hour at the gym. You can still get a lot of benefit from a 15-minute video on the internet (indeed, those very things got me through the pandemic.) And you don’t have to do extreme cardio, either—studies have shown that getting your daily steps in via brisk walking instead of running is actually better for overall heart health.
3. Cutting out alcohol.
“I want to drink less,” you say. To which I ask: why would you do that to yourself!??! I’m joking, of course. With booze being the centerpiece of our social lives, or when that nightly glass of wine becomes half a bottle, it’s easy to feel like our alcoholic intake could stand to be a little more under control. However, instead of swearing off the stuff forever, consider limiting your consumption of alcohol to one or two nights a week, or a certain limit of drinks when you go out, or resolve to only drink in social situations.
However, if you find that you can’t stick to these rules—or find that you’re going out every night in order to get that sanctioned booze—or if you find your drinking gets you into situations that you’re not proud of later, maybe it is the year to consider sobriety and get help with your drinking. Don’t go it alone, though. There are plenty of people and programs who can help.
Those are the biggies, right? With these—and any resolution—you should not see them as something you must accomplish immediately or abandon them completely upon any setback. Every month can be a new start—every week, every day, every new minute. You can choose to restart whenever you want, there are no rules saying you can’t.
If you’re a fellow lunatic, the full moon offers a great opportunity to purge what you don’t want from your life, and every new moon is an opportunity to call in that which you do want. I also recommend a vision board as a fun, meditative year-end/beginning activity. I did it for the first time last year, and it’s a marvel how many of my desires came to be by putting them out there in a tangible way.
Also, it doesn’t have to be the above-mentioned triad of trouble on which you hinge your prospects. Instead of resolving what “not” to do, you can resolve to actively do little things daily or regularly that improve your life and that of those around you:
Say something you are grateful for every day. Tell someone you love them. Reach out to a friend you haven’t spoken with, or one whom you know is going through a tough time. Perform habitual random acts of kindness, even if it’s just giving up your seat on the subway, or letting someone merge in front of you on the freeway. Do something nice for yourself: sign up for a class, learn something new. Take the time to look around, breathe, and marvel at the beauty of this world. The bad stuff gets plenty of attention, don’t forget the good stuff.
Whatever it is you “resolve” to do, do it with hope, willingness, and a whole lot of grace for when you fall short. Endeavor to make this a great year—hopefully life colludes with your intentions.
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