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Published On: Tue, Dec 18th, 2012

Improved Health: Resolution or Realization?

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Improved Health: Resolution or Realization?

 -by Connie Stapleton, Ph.D.

Author of: Eat It Up, The Complete Mind/Body/Spirit Guide to a Full Life After Weight Loss Surgery and Thriving! Triumph Over Trauma 

We’ve all heard them, and the majority of us have joined the masses in heralding the most common New Year’s Resolutions… to lose weight, start exercising, quit smoking, save money, learn a new language or skill, or spend more time with loved ones… AND many of us either forget we made a resolution or act on it for only a few days or a few weeks.

Let’s face it, New Year’s resolutions come and go as quickly as people marry and divorce on soap operas. A sustained improvement in health requires more than a resolution if it is to become a realization!

A resolution means stating the intention or having the determination to do something.

A realization is making your plan become your reality.

In order to move from resolution to realization, or the completion of that thing, you’ve got to do more than just state your intention! When you make a resolution, you’re stating your intention to do something.

In order to obtain (and sustain) improved health, one needs to do far more than state their intention to do so. Improving health requires doing something.

Actually, improving health requires doing quite a few “somethings”!

Improving health involves all sorts of verbs – action words! If I make a resolution that I’m going to lose 10 pounds but do nothing more than verbalize the resolution, it’s highly unlikely the scale is going to move in a downward direction.

That being said, you’ve got to start somewhere! So, stating your intention is important – but it’s just the beginning. Quite a bit of research has been done on the importance of writing down your goals. In fact, writing down your goals and reading the goals frequently is proven to increase the likelihood of your following through with the behaviors necessary to realize your goals. If you merely say, This year I am going to improve my health,” but do none of the behaviors necessary for improved health, you’ll be sitting on the couch next year saying the same thing!

Long ago in what seems like another lifetime, I was in direct sales. I would listen to the inimitable Zig Ziglar while driving in my car. In his deep voice and thick Southern accent, I would hear Zig say to me every day, “You gotta have goals!” Many people erroneously believe that proclaiming their resolutions on December 31st translates to having set goals.

Goal-setting is far more extensive than a one-sentence declaration! It’s starting with the goal (improved health) and working backwards to determine what exactly that means to you and what you plan to do in order to reach the goal.

As part of my work, I read a lot of… psychology-type books (go figure)… and I take note of the things I refer to as “the best by the best.” These are great ideas by outstanding leaders. I like to incorporate the practices they espouse into my own life and I encourage others to practice them, as well. I’d like to share two of these “best by the best” ideas that will help you realize your resolution to improve your health in the new year!

The first is an idea by a brilliant man named Stephen R. Covey who wrote, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. The second principle in the book is “Begin With the End in Mind.” Basically, this means to determine how you want something to end up.

Mr. Covey says that “all things are created twice.” The first creation is your vision of something and the second creation is the actual physical creation. For example, if you are redecorating a room, you imagine what colors you want to use, you visualize where you want to put the furniture, etc. The first creation is your mental image, your vision, of what you want your room to look like. The second creation is the actual redecorating of the room, implementing the colors you imagined and placing the furniture where you imagined it.

You can determine in what ways you want to improve your health and achieve those goals using this method.

First, create your vision of what you will look like and how you will feel having improved your health. Picture yourself in great detail at the weight you want to be. See yourself at that weight wearing the clothes you want to wear and looking pleased with yourself.

Imagine yourself eating healthy foods. Literally visualize yourself sitting at the table with various healthy meals on your plate: grilled chicken with broccoli, a tuna steak with asparagus, turkey breast and a sweet potato.

See yourself in some fun workout clothes lifting weights, walking on the treadmill, or playing tennis. Be detailed in your mental planning – the first creation.

Following through will be expected and practiced in your mind. You’ll be much more likely to eat healthier and get out there and exercise when you practice doing so in your mind! And you’ll work your way to the second creation – your leaner, healthier self!

Write down what you visualize in your first creation, “I see myself at a healthy weight for my height. I eat healthy foods at every meal. I exercise more days of the week than not for 40 minutes or more.”

Read those words daily to remind yourself of who you want to be and how you want to live your life. This is your guide, your map, to becoming that person.

Work toward becoming that healthier person you described, which is the second creation – the healthier person you are becoming and living the healthy activities you envision.

A second way to determine and become a healthier version of yourself is described by Dr. Daniel G. Amen, who wrote Change Your Brain, Change Your Body.

In this book, Dr. Amen presents a terrific way for you to set specific goals. He calls this method, “My One-Page Miracle.” The basic question he encourages you to ask yourself is, “What do I want for my life?” He then suggests you focus on four areas of life:

• Relationships (Spouse/Significant Other, Family, Friends)

• Work

• Money (Short-term and Long-term)

• Health (Weight, Fitness, Nutrition, Physical and Emotional Health).

A healthier you does encompass more than just your physical health, so the One-Page Miracle is a great way to gear up to become healthier in every aspect of your life!

Dr. Amen instructs people to write down very specific goals they have for their life in these areas. Having specific, written goals that you refer to on a regular basis is a practice encouraged by numerous medical and mental health providers.

Staying focused on your goals inspires you to engage in the behaviors that lead to reaching those goals.

My suggestion is that you take this exercise one step further.

After you list specific goals, write down the specific behaviors you will do in order to achieve each goal. For example, if I write, “My fitness goal is to exercise five times a week,” I would write underneath that, “I will do 40 minutes of cardio exercise, either on the elliptical or the treadmill three days a week and 40 minutes of weight training two days each week.” These are specific goals and you can evaluate whether or not you did them.

Goals should be both specific and measurable to be most effective.

So forget about declaring resolutions that you’ll forget about within a few days. Instead, determine how you want to become healthier in this new year. Then use the two ideas presented above as ways to help you become that person. 

Yes, as the recently departed motivator Zig Ziglar said, “You gotta have goals!” And as Mr. Ziglar knew, stating a resolution means little without the follow-thru!

So establish specific goals, write them out, and read them every day. Then you will become the healthier you – the realized version, of your healthier self !





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