It’s officially time for New Year’s resolutions. This is usually the time we make a promise that we feel bad about breaking a little way down the road. I don’t often attempt a New Year’s resolution, but the principle is similar to one I have found success in.
In the past, when I was losing weight or just trying to feel better, I adopted an easy to stick to the strategy to help myself. The idea is to choose 5 things that you do that hurt or hinder you. This could be anything from eating fast food to drinking beer. These things could also be non-food related hindrances like checking social media or texting an ex.
Once you have a handful of these harmful things isolated, you put one up on the chopping block. Then you remove it from your life. You can do it gradually, but the goal should be to eliminate it eventually. The thought is that by seeing five harmful things together, removing only one doesn’t seem like such a big deal. You still have these four other things that you’ve admitted are bad for you that you’re letting stick around. This also gives you something to bargain with yourself about while trying to stick with the plan.
If you do slip up or can’t actually eliminate the thing you chose, then you have four other choices you can replace it with. So let’s say you decided to cut out chocolate, but after two months you can’t go without it any longer. To compensate, you stop eating fast food for the foreseeable future and go back to having chocolate when you want it. This way, there is always something that could be hurting you that is not, plus you’re putting forth an effort to better yourself.
For me losing weight and feeling better, physically and mentally, were one and the same. However, I didn’t exactly know it. So I went out and started exercising whenever I could to the best of my neophyte ability. I also knew I had to diet, but at the time, that just meant eating less whenever you can. The problem was that I was still eating things that were making me feel bad and not providing fuel for exercise. So although I was putting the effort out, I wasn’t really getting anywhere.
My solution was to isolate five things I regularly ate that were junk. I started by cutting candy. I kept exercising and trying to eat less, but I also didn’t eat any candy at all. This reduced some calories, which helped with the weight loss and also opened up the opportunity to eat something better in place of the candy.
Eventually, I took the next step and eliminated candy and fast food. This put me in an even better place, eating fewer calories and foods that literally make you feel worse after you’re done eating them. I continued down this path and kept reducing my five until they were all gone. It took a while, but sticking to this plan over time created a real difference.
Everyone may not be able to cut five things out of their life, but the goal is to strive to. If you can remove items from your list, then no matter what else you’re doing, you’ve eliminated dangerous obstacles and improved your quality of life.
So my suggestion for the New Year would be instead of making a resolution to lose five pounds, pick your five things. Count them on your hand and keep them there mentally. Then as the year goes on and the next year comes around, keep moving forward by putting these things behind you one by one.