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Dream big, start small

Gazette student columnist says keep new year's resolutions realistic

Student Life | Student View

By Emma Troake

The new year inspires a desire for change in most people, most commonly centred on health and fitness.

Lose a few pounds, go to the gym more often, eat less junk. However, when we write these lists of goals for ourselves, we often don’t realize how much work it will take to achieve them.

We dream big and forget to start small. 

Reasonable approach

While resolutions that aim for a healthier lifestyle are valid, they often become focused on dropping weight and prompt unhealthy and negative mindsets and behaviour. Fitness and health need to be approached with positivity and patience, as it’s a big commitment and often a journey to change. 

I find that setting reasonable goals and discovering your limits helps a lot to achieve what you want. If you aim for something unrealistic, you’re bound to give up and be discouraged from ever attempting change again.

You’re also creating an impossible standard to live up to and possibly inflicting damage to your mental health.

Dieting is one of the most counterproductive and harmful methods of weight loss out there. Cutting out certain foods and restricting what you eat is unhealthy and typically leads to breaking the diet and reverting to old eating habits.

As a result, feelings of shame and no self-control can be created. Though in reality, diets are bound for failure, anyway. 

“Praising myself for even the smallest accomplishments leads to better performance and progress.”

Practising switching a negative mindset to a positive one will go a long way towards any change you’re trying to make.

It’s difficult to avoid negative thoughts, as so many of us are habituated to self-criticism.

It takes time and practice to catch yourself before thinking negatively when facing a daunting task or when you slip up, and thinking positively, instead.

However, in my experience persuading myself to try harder and praising myself for even the smallest accomplishments leads to better performance and progress. 

Be specific

Setting too large of a goal with no specific plan to achieve them is unwise when making resolutions.

Vague goals like “work out more” are not definitive or sustainable. I find it very helpful to break down goals I want to accomplish into micro-steps, so I can actually check tasks off and watch my progress grow.

It’s both encouraging and satisfying. Creating a schedule that works for you is also a good idea to keep to your objective. 

Not just physical

Becoming healthier in the new year shouldn’t be exclusive to physical exercise.

Prioritizing your mental health is equally as important, and from my experience, will aid in fitness anyway. It’s important to set apart time for hobbies and activities you enjoy, and even exploring new things in your free time.

Additionally, fundamental necessities like getting enough sleep and drinking enough water should be a part of everyone’s plan. Getting more sleep is definitely high on my list for 2020.

“You’re never going to stay with something that cuts out entirely the things that you love.”

Progress isn’t as linear of a pathway as we’d like it to be. It’s more of a jumbled mess of failures and small successes. Forgiveness is one of the most important parts of achieving your new year’s resolutions.

For goals such as eating healthier, caving in and gorging on junk food one day doesn’t  mean you’ve failed and have to start all over. One slip-up does not erase all of the progress you’ve made.

In fact, it’s important you leave room for the things (or in this specific case, foods) you enjoy, or you’ll never stick to your resolution. It’s the reason why diets fail as often as they do – you’re never going to stay with something that cuts out entirely the things that you love. 

Patience and persistence

The new year is a great time to start making healthy choices. Investing time into fitness and health is an important and admirable goal, but it is essential to approach it carefully and positively.

Resolutions are hard to keep, but with patience and persistence, change will come a lot easier.

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