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How To Make Resolutions Stick

How To Make Resolutions Stick

New Years

    I’m not a fan of the traditional New Year’s Resolution. As a rule, they rarely lead to long-term change. Each year millions of people start a diet on January 1, all with the same objective – to lose their (excess) weight and fat forever. Both scientific research and those things behind our eyelids will tell us that (1) most people will maintain their new behaviours for less than a fortnight (some, less than a day!) (2) very few people will lose the desired weight/fat (achieve what they set out to) and (3) even fewer will keep it off (less than two percent).

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    Mastering the Mind

    Do these people actually have the potential to lose the weight and keep it off? The vast majority, yes. Will they? Probably not. Why not? A range of reasons, but the common denominator is that in some way their psychology will get in the way of (limit, handicap, sabotage) their physiology. They simply stop doing what they started. Great at starting, crap at persevering and ultimately getting the job done. Their mind is the problem and their body is the consequence.

    For many of us, the external is merely a reflection of the internal. This is the point of the lesson where you can be enlightened or offended; it’s your choice. For the majority, obesity is a symptom (physical consequence) of underlying emotional and psychological issues. Master the mind and you’ll master the body. In order to create different, we need to do different, yet far too many of us are creatures of habit and repetition. If we take the same mindset into the weight-loss process (the one that didn’t work the last fifty times), then we’ll produce the same result; failure.

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    Not Just Another Resolution

    If your goal is to change your behaviour for a week or three, lose and regain some weight, get even more frustrated than you are now and to continue on with the stop-start cycle you’ve been on for years, then another traditional New Year’s Resolution is exactly what you need. However, if you would like your next weight-loss (health/fitness/lifestyle/diet) resolution to be your last, you might want to pay attention to (and implement) the following advice:

    1. Don’t try to change fifty things at once. The more things you try to change in a short time frame, the less likely you are to change anything over the long term. Life ain’t a hundred metre sprint and changing your life (body, thinking, habits, diet) ain’t a two week process. Pace yourself and don’t try to undo ten (twenty, thirty, forty) years of less-than-desirable habits, behaviours and results by next Tuesday.

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    2. Don’t make stupid resolutions. Blokes are champions of the ridiculous. Stop letting your big fat ego get in the way of your brain. Set goals which are logical, practical and maintainable. Not everything is a competition, not everything needs to be hard core to be effective and sometimes what you need to do (to create forever results) will not be what you want to do.

    3. Create an accountability system. Once the excitement, the motivation and the initial momentum subside (and they will), what will keep you doing what you need to do, to create the change you want to see in your world? What will keep you committed and proactive while others are throwing in the towel? Why will it be different for you this time? Why will this be your last resolution (of this kind)? If you don’t know, you better find out fast.

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    4. Remember what you did last time? Don’t do that again!! Same produces same. Yes we are creatures of habit and repetition; we do what’s comfortable and familiar – even when it doesn’t work. Don’t do what’s comfortable, do what works.

    5. Work in four week blocks. Here’s my practical tip for the day. In my experience (working with people to change outcomes in their world), the four week time frame is long enough to produce significant practical change but also short enough for us to stay focused, motivated and in the game emotionally. Of course we’re all about creating big picture results and long-term change but breaking the big process down into a series of twenty eight day game plans seems to work for most people.

    6. Weigh up the cost. For some people, the ‘idea’ of change is far more appealing than the practical, physical process. That is, the theory is far easier than the reality. I’ve met many people who simply don’t want it enough (whatever it is). In fact, what often determines success or failure is the ‘want’ factor; a person’s level of drive, desire and commitment. Everything in life has a price (money, time, emotion, physical energy, pain, discomfort, risk), you need to decide if you’re willing to do what needs to be done (to pay the price), to achieve what you want to achieve. And as I’ve said too many times on this site, if you want to create exceptional outcomes, then you must be prepared to do exceptional things.

    Okay, get busy.

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    Craig Harper

    Leading presenter, writer and educator in the areas of high-performance, self-management, personal transformation and more

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    Last Updated on March 25, 2020

    How to Live Longer? 21 Ways to Live a Long Life

    How to Live Longer? 21 Ways to Live a Long Life

    When it comes to living long, genes aren’t everything. Research has revealed a number of simple lifestyle changes you can make that could help to extend your life, and some of them may surprise you.

    So, how to live longer? Here are 21 ways to help you live a long life

    1. Exercise

    It’s no secret that physical activity is good for you. Exercise helps you maintain a healthy body weight and lowers your blood pressure, both of which contribute to heart health and a reduced risk of heart disease–the top worldwide cause of death.

    2. Drink in Moderation

    I know you’re probably picturing a glass of red wine right now, but recent research suggests that indulging in one to three glasses of any type of alcohol every day may help to increase longevity.[1] Studies have found that heavy drinkers as well as abstainers seem to have a higher risk of early mortality than moderate drinkers.

    3. Reduce Stress in Your Life

    Stress causes your body to release a hormone called cortisol. At high levels, this hormone can increase blood pressure and cause storage of abdominal fat, both of which can lead to an increased risk of heart disease.

    4. Watch Less Television

    A 2008 study found that people who watch six hours of television per day will likely die an average of 4.8 years earlier than those who don’t.[2] It also found that, after the age of 25, every hour of television watched decreases life expectancy by 22 minutes.

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    Television promotes inactivity and disengagement from the world, both of which can shorten your lifespan.

    5. Eat Less Red Meat

    Red meat consumption is linked to an increased risk of heart disease and cancer.[3] Swapping out your steaks for healthy proteins, like fish, may help to increase longevity.

    If you can’t stand the idea of a steak-free life, reducing your consumption to less than two to three servings a week can still incur health benefits.

    6. Don’t Smoke

    This isn’t exactly a revelation. As you probably well know, smoking significantly increases your risk of cancer.

    7. Socialize

    Studies suggest that having social relationships promotes longevity.[4] Although scientists are unsure of the reasons behind this, they speculate that socializing leads to increased self esteem as well as peer pressure to maintain health.

    8. Eat Foods Rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids

    Omega-3 fatty acids decrease the risk of heart disease[5] and perhaps even Alzheimer’s disease.[6] Salmon and walnuts are two of the best sources of Omega-3s.

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    9. Be Optimistic

    Studies suggest that optimists are at a lower risk for heart disease and, generally, live longer than pessimists.[7] Researchers speculate that optimists have a healthier approach to life in general–exercising more, socializing, and actively seeking out medical advice. Thus, their risk of early mortality is lower.

    10. Own a Pet

    Having a furry-friend leads to decreased stress, increased immunity, and a lessened risk of heart disease.[8] Depending on the type of pet, they can also motivate you to be more active.

    11. Drink Coffee

    Studies have found a link between coffee consumption and longer life.[9] Although the reasons for this aren’t entirely clear, coffee’s high levels of antioxidants may play a role. Remember, though, drowning your cup of joe in sugar and whipped cream could counter whatever health benefits it may hold.

    12. Eat Less

    Japan has the longest average lifespan in the world, and the longest lived of the Japanese–the natives of the Ryukyu Islands–stop eating when they’re 80% full. Limiting your calorie intake means lower overall stress on the body.

    13. Meditate

    Meditation leads to stress reduction and lowered blood pressure.[10] Research suggests that it could also increase the activity of an enzyme associated with longevity.[11]

    Taking as little as 15 minutes a day to find your zen can have significant health benefits, and may even extend your life.

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    How to meditate? Here’re 8 Meditation Techniques for Complete Beginners

    14. Maintain a Healthy Weight

    Being overweight puts stress on your cardiovascular system, increasing your risk of heart disease.[12] It may also increase the risk of cancer.[13] Maintaining a healthy weight is important for heart health and living a long and healthy life.

    15. Laugh Often

    Laughter reduces the levels of stress hormones, like cortisol, in your body. High levels of these hormones can weaken your immune system.

    16. Don’t Spend Too Much Time in the Sun

    Too much time in the sun can lead to an increased risk of skin cancer. However, sun exposure is an excellent way to increase levels of vitamin D, so soaking up a few rays–perhaps for around 15 minutes a day–can be healthy. The key is moderation.

    17. Cook Your Own Food

    When you eat at restaurants, you surrender control over your diet. Even salads tend to have a large number of additives, from sugar to saturated fats. Eating at home will enable you to monitor your food intake and ensure a healthy diet.

    Take a look at these 14 Healthy Easy Recipes for People on the Go and start to cook your own food.

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    18. Eat Mushrooms

    Mushrooms are a central ingredient in Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s GOMBS disease fighting diet. They boost the immune system and may even reduce the risk of cancer.[14]

    19. Floss

    Flossing helps to stave off gum disease, which is linked to an increased risk of cancer.[15]

    20. Eat Foods Rich in Antioxidants

    Antioxidants fight against the harmful effects of free-radicals, toxins which can cause cell damage and an increased risk of disease when they accumulate in the body. Berries, green tea and broccoli are three excellent sources of antioxidants.

    Find out more antiosidants-rich foods here: 13 Delicious Antioxidant Foods That Are Great for Your Health

    21. Have Sex

    Getting down and dirty two to three times a week can have significant health benefits. Sex burns calories, decreases stress, improves sleep, and may even protect against heart disease.[16] It’s an easy and effective way to get exercise–so love long and prosper!

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    Featured photo credit: Sweethearts/Patrick via flickr.com

    Reference

    [1] Wiley Online Library: Late‐Life Alcohol Consumption and 20‐Year Mortality
    [2] BMJ Journals: Television viewing time and reduced life expectancy: a life table analysis
    [3] Arch Intern Med.: Red Meat Consumption and Mortality
    [4] PLOS Medicine: Social Relationships and Mortality Risk: A Meta-analytic Review
    [5] JAMA: Fish and Omega-3 Fatty Acid Intake and Risk of Coronary Heart Disease in Women
    [6] NCBI: Effects of Omega‐3 Fatty Acids on Cognitive Function with Aging, Dementia, and Neurological Diseases: Summary
    [7] Mayo Clinic Proc: Prediction of all-cause mortality by the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory Optimism-Pessimism Scale scores: study of a college sample during a 40-year follow-up period.
    [8] Med Hypotheses.: Pet ownership protects against the risks and consequences of coronary heart disease.
    [9] The New England Journal of Medicine: Association of Coffee Drinking with Total and Cause-Specific Mortality
    [10] American Journal of Hypertension: Blood Pressure Response to Transcendental Meditation: A Meta-analysis
    [11] Science Direct: Intensive meditation training, immune cell telomerase activity, and psychological mediators
    [12] JAMA: The Disease Burden Associated With Overweight and Obesity
    [13] JAMA: The Disease Burden Associated With Overweight and Obesity
    [14] African Journal of Biotechnology: Anti-cancer effect of polysaccharides isolated from higher basidiomycetes mushrooms
    [15] Science Direct: Periodontal disease, tooth loss, and cancer risk in male health professionals: a prospective cohort study
    [16] AHA Journals: Sexual Activity and Cardiovascular Disease

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