Choice NOT Resolutions

I used to make New Year’s Resolutions every year to exercise every day for an hour, eat more vegetables and less bread, never eat sweets, lose 50 pounds in a month…create world peace, win the Nobel Peace Prize….all things that in the quiet of my soul I knew I would never be able to keep up past a week or two. So every time I made these resolutions I felt bad about myself, knew I was lying to myself, and turned to food to console myself for my ‘lack of willpower’.

I’m a chocoholic and bread-getarian. Where others go for cigarettes, Krispy Crème donuts, shopping sprees and alcohol, I go straight for the chocolate and carbs. Dark Chocolate, which calls out to me like a secret lover. And not just one piece….oh no, that wouldn’t be sinful enough. I must have several pieces. And then when the feeding frenzy is done, and there are Dove, Sees or Godiva wrappers littering the ground, I wake up and kick myself. And if I had made a ‘resolution’ never to eat sweets again, and broken it on January 2, I would slink away to the dark corner of my soul and lick my wounds and tell myself “I’ll never be healthy, what’s the use?”

What I have learned over time is that a resolution is really just a decision, and that it’s a decision that needs to be made every day, sometimes several times a day. And there are days that I am going to be better at making decisions and there are other days where I’m not going to do as well. But rather than creating stress for myself with overwhelming one- year goals, I’ve learned that it’s much easier to make reasonable plans in advance, and then do my best to honor myself and my goals.

So how I have changed and helped myself is to stop making New Year’s Resolutions, and start making everyday decisions. When I go grocery shopping, I don’t buy the chocolate or the rye or sourdough bread. When I am about to leave for a party, I eat a little something at home first, and drink a ton of water. I’ve learned that I can pretend I’m drinking something alcoholic if I just get a sparkling water with a twist of lemon or lime. If I know I have taken too much food, I do something I learned years ago — I pour a glass of water over whatever food is left on my plate. Trust me; you don’t want to eat soggy, cold food.

One of my favorite new “tricks” to help me keep to my plan is to carry a small camera to parties. It’s so much easier to be on the hunt for photographs than the dessert table, and people will talk to you because they want their picture taken. It makes for a fun time and before I know it most of the food is already gone and it’s time to go home. When I’m having a bad day, I go for a walk, or take a long bath, or call a friend.

I choose and decide every day. And sometimes the chocolate and the bread wins out. But I’ve learned to avoid the ‘all or nothing’ thinking trap, and I know that tomorrow I can make better choices.

My suggestion is to choose daily the small habits you can change instead of making stressful, unreasonable New Year’s Resolutions. Or if you must, make them for something like, I will learn to tap dance, or take a zumba class, or learn to paint, this year.

Guest Writer: Susanne Romo

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