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New year, new approach

Nothing worthwhile comes without effort. Resident blogger Dr Joe Kosterich discusses how three factors hold the key to successful resolutions in 2018.

 This is the time of year for New Year’s resolutions, and many of us tend to make resolutions to do with our health. Unfortunately, some of these will be the same as last year’s - and maybe some years before that too. The problem is that by middle to late January great intentions fade and we revert to our usual patterns.

 Two common New Year’s resolutions we make are to lose a few kilos and to get fitter. This seems simple enough, so what can get in our way?

The first step to success is to change our beliefs and mindset.

 The first thing is our beliefs. What we believe is a function of our collective past experiences. This includes both the results of our previous actions and our observations of what other people have done. If we have tried to get fit or lose weight in the past and haven’t, our belief system will tell us it can’t be done.

 Let’s say we start out with some ideas about exercise and healthy eating. If we believe that our ideas can be brought to reality, we will set about doing them. If we believe they are not, we will not. There is a third default option, where people set out to do something, even though deep down don’t really believe they will succeed.

 A surprisingly large number fall into that third category where they set out on an exercise program or to improve their diet, and despite good intentions, they don’t actually believe that they will succeed. This undermines the efforts put in.

 Yet if you look around, people have done it and there are countless success stories. This means it can be done. In turn, this means that the first step to success is to change our beliefs and mindset. As Henry Ford said, “whether we believe we can or we can’t, we are likely to be right”. We can choose what to believe.

 The second problem is a lack of plan. The resolution to “get fit” or “eat better” is noble but vague. A plan to work out for 30 minutes, four times a week with the time and place written in a diary is specific, measurable and much more likely to be acted on. A plan to eat two extra serves of fruit and vegetables and stop eating potato chips is specific and measurable. So is drinking water instead of soft drink.

 The third problem is discipline. Your idea and plan needs to be put into action. This goes well for the first few days but then we tend to revert to past habits. If you do what you have always done you will get what you have always gotten. Hence what is needed is the discipline to stick with your plan. Equally, if you have an “off” day, draw a line in the sand and get back on the path the next day.

 The “problems” of beliefs, lack of a plan and poor discipline can be overcome. You may need to work at them, as it may be a new experience. That’s fine.

 Nothing worthwhile comes without effort. Equally, it is effort, not struggle, that brings rewards.

Jow KosterichDr Joe Kosterich MBBS
Doctor, speaker, author of three books, media presenter and health industry consultant, Dr Joe Kosterich wants you to be healthy and get the most out of life.He is a regular on TV and radio, writes for various medical and mainstream publications, as well as maintaining a website and blog providing health information. He is medical advisor to Little Green Pharma. Dr Joe also gives practical motivational health talks for the general public and organisations.