10 Tips for Creating Your Healthiest Self This Year
Avoid resolution failures, get healthy, and feel better in general!
Posted Jan 05, 2016
It’s probably no surprise that the most popular New Year’s resolutions are health related – most commonly related to weight, diet, fitness, or all of these. And every year, many people vow to take good care of themselves only to feel frustrated, discouraged, rebellious, and perhaps give up altogether.
One reason for resolution failures related to health is that people set goals that aren't specific enough. Vowing to “get healthy,” “discover my best self,” and “create a new me!” sound inspiring, but they don’t help you create a realistic plan that you can follow. Another reason is that human being do best when they receive some sort of validation, reinforcement, or concrete evidence that things are working.
So, here are my 10 Guidelines for Getting Healthy in the New Year. Notice I did not call them "rules." Success is not about being perfect - it's about having useful general principles that you can follow long term. If you abide by these, I can almost guarantee that you will feel great about your progress, stay on track, and accomplish what you desire.
- Get specific and concrete. If the goal is to get healthy, break that down – does that mean lose weight? Gain weight? Eat more unprocessed foods? Stop smoking?
- Pick the most important goal and start with that. It’s great to want to improve yourself in every way you can – but you are more likely to succeed if you take the most pressing, specific goal and list the actions you’d need to take to accomplish this.
- Create a realistic timeline. If the goal is to lose 50 lbs, and you are not on a TV show with a personal trainer, chef, and cameras recording your every move, do not expect to lose a lot of weight overnight. An expert (in the next point below) can help you come up with a plan that is both safe and likely to be effective – preferably based on some sort of scientific evidence.
- Enlist the experts. Check in with a reputable expert – your doctor, a registered dietitian, a credentialed exercise specialist, and/or a therapist who specializes in helping people meet the type of goal you are trying to achieve. Learn what the most effective steps are for meeting your goal.
- Take a whole-person perspective. Get adequate sleep, strive to eat well, and find out what you’d need to do to make your goal a reality given the demands of your work and home life, your budget, etc. Find a stress management tool you can stick with. Drink more water and less of everything else. These are easy, simple things that you will get a lot of mileage out of without having to try so hard.
- Be grateful for what you have, and who you are, and nourish yourself as if you are the most important person in your world. Treat yourself the way you would treat someone you truly love and care for. People don’t stick with regimens if they feel they are either unfair, like punishment, or conversely, like they don’t deserve to take care of themselves.
- Take a good quality probiotic. This is admittedly more specific than the other tips, but the recent research has shown that stress, antibiotic overuse, and poor diet can create an imbalance in our gut flora. These imbalances can negatively affect mood, GI function, and immunity. If you were only going to take one supplement this year, consider a probiotic. It’s probably the easiest “good thing” you can do for yourself.
- Validate your achievements! Whether or not anyone else does, YOU must pat yourself on the back for setting a healthy goal, and for whatever you achieve along each step of the way.
- Understand that a “perfect” trajectory is “abnormal” – almost no one embarks upon meaningful change without some ups and downs, starts and stops, feeling good and then feeling discouraged at times. You are in it for the long haul – refuse to allow any one “miss” here and there to prevent you from acknowledging and appreciating your “hits” or sticking with your goal.
- If you have a tendency to self-sabotage when doing well, seriously consider seeing a good therapist to help you understand how and why you may get in your own way. This can help you can retire outdated ways of coping and really be the healthy, happy you that you deserve to be.
Wishing all the very best this year and always!
Dr. Traci Stein is the author of "The Everything Guide to Integrative Pain Management," as well as the creator of 6 affirming self-hypnosis audio programs on topics ranging from creating healthy self-esteem, to conquering procrastination, creating positive change (changing habits) and achieving a healthy weight and body image. Look for two new audio programs on self compassion and mindfulness in the spring of 2016. You can also follow her on Facebook(Facebook.com/DrTStein) or Twitter (@DrTraciStein).
Photo credit: © Amarosy | Dreamstime.com, used with permission