Nancy Lugo: Fighting off ambivalence

Many of us will make New Year's resolutions. Some resolutions will stick. Others may vaporize in the first day or week.

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  • | 8:28 a.m. December 17, 2013
  • Winter Park - Maitland Observer
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Soon, 2013 and all its warts will be leaving us. Grandfather (and Grandmother) Time will bring us a new year, a chance for a new start. Many of us will make New Year’s resolutions. Some resolutions will stick. Others may vaporize in the first day or week. How can you increase the odds of being in the success group? Prepare well. Change comes in stages. Deciding you want to make a change, any healthy change, is a great first step.

Resolve your ambivalence. Maybe you want to quit smoking. You think of how it will get others to stop nagging you and how much money you will save. But also, think about why you want to do it. Think about why you smoke and what you enjoy about it. Think of the balance between the enjoyments you get from smoking compared to the benefits of not smoking. Plan what you will do instead of your smoke breaks. Be honest with yourself so you can address your mixed feelings. Or maybe you want to lose weight, but you really do enjoy sweets. You have to think your way through the tradeoffs between the pleasure of the sweets and the benefits of a thinner you (a moment on the lips, forever on the hips). Think your way to appreciating the healthier foods, not as a deprivation of the foods you usually have, but as a new, enjoyable way of eating. Until you resolve your mixed feelings and the tradeoffs for the changes you want to make, you are likely to sabotage your own efforts.

Plan how you will do your change. Set some realistic goals with smaller goals along the path. For example, you may want to lose 30 pounds. Be good to yourself. Think about the first 5 pounds as your initial challenge. Break it down more. Plan your first day of healthy eating and physical activity. Plan your second day. Plan how you will work around obstacles. For example, if your plan is to walk every day, plan what you will do when it is raining or if someone invites you to do something else at that time. (Tip: Activities planned early in the day may be easier to do, with fewer competing demands on your time.) Focus on the journey, not just the end.

Maybe you are planning to go to the gym frequently. Plan when you will go and what you will wear. Buying the right footwear may be your first step in the right direction. Putting on your walking shoes every day for a week might be your starting point for a plan to walk 20 minutes a day. Walking 10 minutes a day during week two might be the next step. Everyone is different, with different goals and obstacles, different baby steps and big steps. Figure out what is right for you.

Set a start date. Jan. 1 is a popular one. Implement your plan. Expect you may veer off your path a few times but don’t let that deter you from your goals. That is normal but no reason to not get right back on track. Reward yourself in positive ways for each successful day. Plan to assess your progress Jan. 15 and revise your strategy if necessary.

If you practice your healthy change for six weeks to six months, you are on your way to making it a regular part of your life. The longer you stay on track, the more likely you are to succeed in making the change a permanent one.

So go ahead. Be bold. Commit yourself to make one healthy change. Plan, prepare, start small, build, continue, and succeed. Not quite so simple, but you get the idea. The choices are yours.


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