It’s one week into the New Year, and I have good news to report on at least one of my past New Year’s resolutions.
Two years ago this week, I swore off carbonated soft drinks. For decades, I drank around six Diet Cokes each day. In 2015, I put an end to that, and I’m proud to say that I haven’t had a carbonated beverage in over two years.
For me, forgoing Diet Cokes was a huge accomplishment. There’s nothing wrong with the occasional soft drink, but the number I found myself consuming wasn’t in the healthy category. So cutting soft drinks out was a good choice for me, and I’ll have to say, I feel much better as a result.
I made an equally bold resolution in 2016, but I’m disappointed to report that that particular resolve turned out to be a bust. I vowed last year at this time that I’d walk at least five miles each week. Unfortunately, I fell short of this goal. The closest I came to it was during the first month of 2016. From February on, those efforts went downhill.
What makes some resolutions work and others flop?
That’s not always easy to figure out. Sometimes we make resolutions because we feel like they’re resolutions we should make, not necessarily those we want to make.
When I resolved to cut out Diet Cokes, I was motivated by genuine concerns about my health. I knew that drinking that many sodas each day was not good for me, and I’d begun to feel the effects of too much caffeine and too much aspartame.
Plus, in my line of work I was keenly aware of a lot of the negatives associated with sugary drinks and sugar substitutes. Medical studies have shown that drinking one soda per day substantially increases one’s risk of developing diabetes, and that high soda consumption correlates with a higher risk of developing cancer and an increased risk of experiencing DNA damage.
So all in all, “soda-be-gone” was a pretty easy call. Why then was it not so easy to “adopt” a new good habit? I succeeded in cutting out a bad one, but failed in adding a good one. I think that might be a pattern to take a look at.
I’m sure, looking back on it, that I was able to blame the weather for some of it. Surely there were days when it was just too cold, too rainy, too gray, or too dark to want to get out of bed and walk the loop.
But obviously, I just wasn’t motivated enough.
There’s a lot of wisdom out there about how to keep a New Year’s Resolution. Some of the best advice I’ve come across is the simplest: “make it (the resolution) something you really want.”
Limiting the number of resolutions you undertake, being specific about what you wish to change, developing a plan, visualizing success, and forgiving yourself when you fall short are other tools for success.
Maybe last year I just wasn’t that fired up about walking or in exercising in general?
This year, I feel newly motivated to get in better shape. I have resolved to work out at least twice a week, with workouts to include walking, lifting weights, and other types of exercise.
In 2017, I plan to work with a personal trainer. Somehow, I believe that if I have an appointment to meet someone at a specific time I’ll feel more accountable and I’ll end up faring much better.
I do feel motivated for increasing my fitness level this year, and I hope that by this time next year, I’ll have a different tale to report of the “previous year.”
But in addition to taking on this new habit, I’m adding another resolution – one that should be much easier to incorporate into my routine. I plan to read more for pleasure this year. Political biographies, business leadership books, and mystery novels. For the past few years, I have put off reading for pleasure because I did so much reading at work. Not in 2017.
I am excited to see what 2017 will bring. Hopefully it will bring, with effort, a healthier, more physically fit me – – and you!
Gregory J. Dent