A Lifestyle Revolution: Tips from MUHC Wellness Team!

The New Year is characterized by New Year’s resolutions, a time for a clean slate, to start over fresh and to become a better you.

The New Year is characterized by New Year’s resolutions, a time for a clean slate, to start over fresh and to become a better you.

Making a positive lifestyle change at any time of the year is an admirable feat and often done with the best of intentions. However why do we often fail? Why do our intentions not translate into permanent action? This winter we must not fall victim to the Fair Weather New Year’s Resolution Attitude. Rather we must embark on a Lifestyle Revolution that just so happens to begin in January 2014.

The first step to positive, lasting change is awareness. To be successful we need to first address why resolutions are often not successful:

Three reasons why most New Year’s Resolutions fail: 

1. The wrong attitude:

If a goal is set with the mind-set or attitude that it is a temporary change then that is exactly what it will be: a temporary change with temporary results. Example: “I am going to stop eating sugar for as long as I can.” 

2. The wrong goal: Often goals are set that are unrealistic or inappropriate for our abilities or lifestyles. Example: “I have never been active. I am going to run a full marathon this summer” 

3. The wrong tools:

Goals are often set without the proper tools or preparation. We declare we will “stop eating fast-food” and expect our lifetime habit of a regular fast-food diet to suddenly disappear without any plan of what we will do instead.

Three steps toward a Lifestyle Revolution: 

1. The right attitude:

Our focus should be on a permanent lifestyle change rather than a temporary regime. Make changes that are possible to last a lifetime! Many fad diets or programs offer a quick fix solution by following a rigid regime. However once off such a rigid regime, we slip back into old habits and often are worse off then when we began! Ask yourself “Can I do this for the rest of my life?” 

2. The right goal: Take Baby steps. Start with ONE small, specific, realistic, achievable goal. Once you have achieved and maintained this goal, set another one.

Focus on a lifestyle change of healthy, realistic changes that will lead to healthy habits that will last a lifetime. Avoid fad diets and unrealistic regimes; instead choose balance, variety and moderation because they lead to success that can be maintained.

3. The right tools:

Fill your healthy tool box with the following tools!

A. A Plan: for preparing to change, for taking action, for relapses and for maintaining new habits. Be specific, write it down. See the following documents to help you get started.

B. A Schedule: for when you will take action. What day of the week & time of day will your new routine take place? Schedule it like an important meeting that can’t be missed.

C. Support: Ask for support. Reach out to your family, friends and community. Ask them to check up on you regularly via text, phone calls or emails.

D. Accountability: Make a commitment to yourself. Write out and sign a self-contract promising to work towards your goals. Share your goal with supportive people in your life who you can be accountable to (see Self-Contract).

The best news is: A lifestyle change can happen at anytime of the year…no need to wait for next January! 

Happy New Year & Happy Lifestyle Revolution,

Kara & the MUHC Wellness Team 

Kara Martin, B.Sc., M.A., Kinesiology
MUHC Wellness Program Coordinator,
Research & Wellness Division

Exercise & Sport Psychology and Lifestyle Consultant
Nutrition & Wellness Specialist, NWS
Pre & Post Natal Fitness Specialist
Certified Personal Trainer, CSEP-PT
Barre Concept Accredited Trainer
Stott Pilates Certified Trainer