As I’m sure you’re aware, this is the time of year we’re inspired to make those tricky New Year’s Resolutions. But are you aware that only 8% of Americans who make them actually stick to them? Translated that means the idea that the New Year will be the time you create an all New You is an exercise in frustration. And it often means we’ve set ourselves up for another failure. Another experience that we “just can’t do it”, that we don’t have enough “willpower”.
One of the guiding principles of the human body is called Homeostasis which is a fancy way of saying Balance. It’s similar to Yin and Yang in Chinese medicine. Acupuncture is all about balancing Energy Meridians. What this means is that when we make drastic changes our bodies actually don’t like it and our chemistry will fight against them to move us back to what the body perceives as our “normal”.
As Jason Best (a nutrition writer) said recently “maybe the problem with New Year’s resolutions isn’t the notion of making resolutions. Rather, maybe it’s with the kinds of resolutions we tend to make: lose weight, get fit, eat healthy” and that “in contemplating how to achieve them, we tend to stare down a long, dismal path of joyless self-denial, itself somehow bound up in our culture’s persistent attachment to a puritanical attitude toward pleasure”. I couldn’t have said it better myself. And, further, we measure our success against Photo-shopped images of bodily perfection which most of us will never accomplish.
So, I would like to propose a different approach to this year’s resolutions. I would suggest you pick ONE aspect of your diet or lifestyle that you know needs improvement and start there.
It might be, for example, cutting out sugar and/or other junk food. Without sugar and junk food, we naturally move toward eating better because that’s all that’s left! If you’re a “sweet” eater - eat fruit instead. If you’re a “salt” eater - eat popcorn. If you crave “fats” - eat avocado or nut butter or hummous. Nothing drastic here. You aren’t denying yourself the taste you desire. You’re just choosing a more nutritious version of it. The sugary/junky foods are loaded with calories but largely devoid of any nutrition. They increase our risks of all the diseases we’re trying to prevent.
If your diet is already junk free, you might pick increasing your physical activity. But, if you’ve been a complete couch potato, don’t suddenly think you’re going to exercise every day for an hour. You aren’t likely to keep that commitment long enough to succeed. Gyms are full to bursting in January and empty by April. Instead, pick an improvement like taking the stairs instead of the elevator or parking your car at the far end of the parking lot or getting off the T one stop too soon and walking the rest of the way to work. Start by taking brief, scenic walks timed to your tolerance and gradually increase the distance. Smaller steps that are easier to accomplish.
In my naturopathic practice I often talk about picking “do-able” changes. This time of year there are many advertisements for doing Cleanses. I think Cleanses are great. I’ve designed and led many of them over 25 years of practice. The problem is: they’re generally drastically different from how we usually eat, especially after the overindulgences of the Holidays. A number of my past Cleanse participants admitted to me that once the Cleanse was over, they binged on all their favorite foods. That’s Homeostasis in action. It was too much adjustment for the body to handle and not sustainable in the long run. What I’ve seen work time and time again is slowly, gradually changing how we live - permanently. Establishing a “new” normal. A new healthier Homeostasis.
For over 25 yrs I’ve successfully guided many Patients toward a healthier way of living. If you think you could benefit from my years of wisdom and some practical advice, please contact me. I would love to see you succeed!