Healthy Resolutions for the New Year

In this installment of his regular column, Dr. Tom Ferguson recommends a number of achievable healthy resolutions people could make for the coming new year.

| November/December 1980

  • 066 healthy resolutions - Fotolia - Jose Manuel Gelpi
    Your healthy resolutions for the new year might include starting an exercise program.
  • Tom Ferguson2
    In the early 1980s Dr. Tom Ferguson provided advice on healthy living and medical self care to readers in each issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

  • 066 healthy resolutions - Fotolia - Jose Manuel Gelpi
  • Tom Ferguson2

The notion of making annual resolutions occurs to a good many folks during the holiday season when thoughts begin to turn ahead toward the New Year and its opportunity for a symbolic new beginning. And this year you can make healthy resolutions, a vow to put a personal self-care plan into effect that just may benefit every part of you! Making just a few gentle changes in your lifestyle could bring about a big difference in the way you perceive the world as well as the way it (in the form of your family, friends, etc.) perceives you!

To make such a fresh start, you'll first need to define and state a commitment that you'd like to make to yourself. This pledge should be flexible, not an irrevocable promise sealed in blood. Think of your new self-care plan as an opportunity merely to try out some different behavior patterns ... which you'll be free to change at any time.

Know Thyself

Any self-improvement regime begins with self-awareness, so you should start implementing your plan by simply paying attention to yourself. Become aware of your personal habits — both good and bad — and maybe even record them in some way. If you're thinking of going on a diet, for instance, write down everything you eat over the course of a day or two. Before starting an exercise program, buy a pedometer (the devices are available at most sporting goods or outdoor supply stores), and hang it on your belt to record the total number of miles you walk each day.

Then, while you're observing your own actions, also pay attention to the ways in which other people support your desired or undesired behavior. For instance, do members of your family continually offer you calorie-laden goodies? Does everybody else at work light up a cigarette after lunch? You should — at this stage in your preparations — observe such patterns closely, but don't try to change anything yet. Just take stock.

Setting Up Goals

When the time comes to outline your plan and its goals, try to "starve problems and feed solutions." That is, use your own strengths and interests to combat your weaknesses. If you want to stop smoking — and have considered taking up running — you may discover that you're ready to break the tobacco habit by the time you've worked up to three or four miles a day. By centering your actions on goals — which enrich your life rather than depriving you of something — you'll probably be more successful in the long run at getting rid of negative behavior than you would be if you attacked the problems directly.

After you have a general idea of what kind of self-care program you'd like to begin, brainstorm a little bit — consider lots of possible goals — before you narrow down your aims. If you want to develop an exercise program, for example, consider swimming the English Channel or running in a marathon! Be creative and have fun with your brainstorming, then gradually fine-tune your ideas to include only attainable aims.

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