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Rethinking Resolutions

I make New Years Resolutions every year.  Some people laugh at me and quote me the statistics on how often people lapse from their new healthy lifestyle (some say about 92%).  I relapse too, but every time I go on some health binge, I adopt one more healthy habit. For example, last year, I quit coffee, sugar and almost all grains. Well, I’m back to drinking coffee, eating bread and enjoying an occasional cookie. But, my morning smoothie now contains kale, cucumber and celery – thanks to my nutritionist.  While my entire program didn’t stick, this healthy habit – I kept.

What many of us don’t understand is that change does not always happen in a linear fashion.  According to Change researchers, people make changes in predictable stages. These stages include – pre-contemplation (not even seeing there may be a problem or need to change), contemplation – (thinking about or willing to consider there may be a problem), preparation (planning to do something within the next month), action (practicing your new behaviour for 3 to 6 months), maintenance (continued commitment to new behaviour – 6 months to 5 or more years) and termination or relapse (the problem no longer exists or you have relapsed).  According to these change experts, most of us cycle through these steps many times before we make a permanent change.

Never worry about sticking to your resolutions.  You will learn something or make some small change and that change may last. That is success.  Most of us make big changes in small steps.  Relapse is completely normal.  Once we understand this, we don’t have to treat ourselves badly for any perceived failures.  So go ahead and make that New Years Resolution.  It’s exciting to think about how your life will be when you have become the new healthier, smarter, kinder, you!