New year, old resolutions
These are familiar promises you've been making year after year. Sai Raje tells you how you can stick to them this time.Updated: Jan 02, 2008 17:50 IST
Yep, the party is over. Your groggy brain is making a hopeless effort of dragging you out of bed. The zest and hope and other happy things that you were brimming over with for the New Year, right until yesterday seem to have all gone kaput. Coffee? Yes, please. And those New Year resolutions for a fitter you? No, no, no please.
Difficult to stick to, aren't they? In a recent study conducted by Richard Wise man of the University of Hertfordshire, United Kingdom, over 3,000 people were tracked while attempting to achieve a range of things including losing weight, quitting smoking or drinking less. At the start of the study, about 52 per cent were confident of success but only 12 per cent actually achieved their goals.
Researchers also found that resolutions most likely to succeed were enjoy life more (which 32 per cent people managed to stick to); improve your fitness (29 per cent); lose weight (28 per cent); quit or cut down drinking (25 per cent) and quit or cut down smoking (24 per cent). But no sweat. Relax; nurse that mean hangover for now while we toss over some of those impossible-to-achieve New Year resolutions to the experts and have them tell us how to actually get down to accomplishing them.
1 Quit smoking
This one is the toughest of the lot. Even when you manage to kick the habit, there's no saying when it could creep right back into your routine.
"I had resolved to give up cigarettes by the end of 2007 but haven't managed to. My job is hectic and stressful and I end up smoking, no matter what. I can't control the habit," says Kunal Gupte, a 28-year-old software engineer.
"Gradually reducing the number of cigarettes you smoke per day may work better than just giving it all up on one day," says general practitioner Dr Anand Bhave.
"Suddenly going from smoking 10-15 cigarettes a day to none will cause withdrawal symptoms such as feeling low or tremors in your body. Come down to five instead and try to phase out the habit. If that doesn't work, consult your doctor and even take treatment like wearing nicotine patches on your body to help kick the habit," he adds.
This formula seems to be working for 24-year-old Pravin Gopal. "I used to smoke seven cigarettes a day until November. Now I can manage with just three. And I am doing fine so far. The key, for me, is to reduce the number of breaks I take in my workday. Earlier, I would end up smoking during every coffee break," he says.
2 Exercise regularly
One resolution almost everyone makes but only a fraction steadfastly sticks to. And the most common roadblocks are often losing motivation or simply facing a lack of time.
Says Rinku Singh, a 32-year-old mother and software engineer, "I have a year old baby, a home to take care of, and a really busy job to juggle. I often have to put in extra hours at the office. My resolution last year was to exercise by taking a brisk walk everyday. But I just haven't been able to do it," she says.
"There are several things you can do to stay strongly motivated. For starters, get a good look at yourself in the mirror, without any clothes on. Make a note of what changes you want to see in yourself. Maintain a diary to record your exercise activities to stay honest on the course. Join a good gym or even hire a personal trainer," says fitness expert Leena Mogre.
"Better still, buy a dress that you would absolutely love to wear but can't fit into. And keep trying it on every month to see where you have come from the point you started exercising," she adds.
And there's no harm in treating yourself to your favourite food occasionally. Short-term rewards can actually help you stay on course with your exercise regimen, feels Mogre.
3 Drink less alcohol
You are definitely not addicted to the booze, but would still like to reduce the amount of alcohol you end up drinking at many social events that you are compelled to attend.
"My job involves entertaining my company's clients on a regular basis. I end up going to lot of such parties where it's difficult to control alcohol intake," says Akshay Sharma, a mar keting executive.
<b3>Expert speak: "Try and limit your social drinking to your group of very close and trusted friends. Never drink with people who poke fun at you if you refuse a drink. As a rule, keep away from functions where you know liquor will be served," says psychiatrist Dr Harish Shetty.
"If you can't avoid such a party, walk in late, after the drinks have been served and you are more likely to tuck in some food. Don't serve alcohol at your own birthday/anniversary parties. If you still find it difficult, confide your fears with loved ones who can provide much-needed help," he adds.
4 Manage stress better
In big, bad world, need we stress this resolution more? As if the hectic work hours weren't enough, we also have to bear with energy-sapping commutes to get home.
"My job seems per fect on paper. It's a five-day week and fixed work hours. But I have to work overtime everyday. I leave home by 7 am and get back only by 10. 30 pm or later. And eyebrows are raised in office if I try and leave a little early. Even if I resolve to be less stressed out, what can I do?" cribs Nisha Swaminathan, a 24-year-old HR executive.
Expert speak: The key to keeping your stress levels down is to stop trying to please the world and steal time for yourself, according to Dr Shetty. "Even taking a couple of minutes off during work hours to meditate can work wonders. Set aside 15 minutes a day to take a brisk walk. Volunteer time for a hobby or a social cause, as that is a good stress buster," he adds.
5 Eat healthy to lose weight
Okay, so even exercising regularly comes easy for some of us. But steering clear of that tasty junk food and those sugar cravings seems hard to do. "I just love eating food and it's almost impossible to resist temptation. I think I can never manage sticking to a weight-loss plan because I give in easily to food cravings," says Dr Orpah Kalel, an ENT surgeon.
Expert speak: "For those who come to us with New Year diet resolutions, we ask them to come back in a few weeks, after that initial excitement has died down. While eating healthy food and less of junk it is important to make that switch gradually and not with a snap," feels Dr Richa Anand, director of nutrition, Dr L H Hiranandani Hospital.
"For a person to lose weight, he/she should be consuming 1,000 calories every day. But when someone is used to a rich 5,000-calorie diet, suddenly switching him or her to 1,000 calories per day won't help. They are bound to go back to the old eating habits. Coming down to 3,000 calories per day from let's say, 5,000, is a good achievement too. And if you absolutely must have that dessert, try using a sugar substitute," she explains.