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Whether you make wellness resolutions each year or whether you’ve given up on the idea of New Year’s resolutions altogether, resolutions are something we can’t avoid hearing about everywhere we go this time of year. Between all of the TV commercials for weight loss programs and gym memberships and all of the other advertisements we see on social media, websites, etc. the theme is absolutely everywhere!
And everyone jokes about the fact that the majority of people will just give up on their wellness resolutions within a week or two anyways, so why bother even trying? But an even bigger question is: why is it that so many people fail to keep their resolutions each year? What is really the reason why it is so incredibly hard for the majority of people to stick to their New Year’s resolutions for wellness and better health?
Of course, this isn’t just a simple question to answer, and it’s complicated by the fact that there are usually several different reasons and underlying issues that contribute to all of the failed resolutions each year. There are so many things that could affect the success of resolutions. Things like setting goals that are realistic and attainable for you, knowing some of the real reasons why you might be procrastinating on meeting your goals, and having the right tools to help you to actually achieve your health and wellness goals.
But the thing I want to talk about today is one of the main reasons why your wellness resolutions might be setting you up for failure, especially at the start of the New Year when many people are the most likely to make resolutions.
Why Your Failed Resolutions Might Not Be Your Fault
When we fail at keeping our resolutions each year, we automatically tend to blame ourselves for not trying hard enough or not being dedicated enough. And sometimes these things may be true. Sometimes we just don’t have the motivation or we procrastinate and fail to follow through on the goals that we set.
But sometimes we try really, really hard to keep our resolutions and we still end up feeling like a failure after just a couple of weeks (or even days…)
In that case, what if the problem isn’t with our effort or our determination? What if the problem is actually with the resolutions themselves?
And even if we set realistic, attainable resolutions that seem like ones we should be able to keep, what if part of the problem is that these are the wrong resolutions for this particular time of year?
Why the New Year Is a Bad Time for Many Wellness Resolutions
We all have different resolutions, of course, but there are many, many people who set resolutions each New Year to go on strict diets to lose weight or to go to the gym every day or jog every day, etc. And for many people, trying to keep these resolutions usually involves cutting out a lot of foods that might be considered fattening and eating lots of salads and raw fruits and veggies, and drinking smoothies, etc.
And for those who have exercise-related goals, keeping their resolutions might involve getting up extra early to go for a run or squeezing in a long and strenuous work-out at the gym either before or after a busy work day.
Now, exercise is obviously important for staying healthy, and eating a healthy diet looks different for different people. There are some people who thrive on lots and lots of physical activity and who feel their best when they eat a diet filled with lots of fresh, raw produce like salads.
But the thing is that there are also a lot of people who really really struggle to maintain all of that strenuous exercise and who have an incredibly hard time sticking to a diet of salads and smoothies. And part of the reason for this could be the fact that these kinds of diet and exercise goals are the complete opposite of what most of our ancestors were doing during the winter time!
Living with the Rhythms of the Seasons
Our ancestors in previous centuries lived much more closely with the rhythms of the seasons than many of us do today. And, for those living in climates where it was very cold during the winter months, their daily lifestyle in the winter was different from their daily lifestyle during the warmer months.
For those living in the Northern Hemisphere, there was no such thing as having a big salad or a green smoothie in the month of January. There were no modern grocery stores with fresh produce from warm climates like Mexico or South America. And while you might have had a few apples left in your root cellar that hadn’t gotten mealy yet and you might have been able to get some fresh fruits like orange or lemons shipped in from warmer climates, they would have been an occasional treat, not something that would be making up the bulk of your diet during the colder months.
If you lived in an area where it was cold enough for snow to cover the ground you might have gone for weeks at a time with no fresh greens of any kind – so definitely no big salads for lunch and dinner! Instead, you would be eating lots of warming foods that were in season and would store well in your root cellar like carrots, beets, turnips, potatoes, parsnips, apples, winter squashes, etc. (Along with other foods, of course, like meats and cheeses and homemade breads.)
And as far as exercise is concerned, the everyday lives of our ancestors definitely required a lot of physical activity with cooking and cleaning and taking care of farm animals, but even then the winter time was historically a time for rest. There were no crops to plant, or care for, or harvest, and with the days being darker people tended to go to bed earlier than we do today rather than wasting their supply of candles or lamp oil to stay up late at night.
Making Seasonally-Appropriate Resolutions
It makes sense that the New Year is the time for making resolutions since it’s a fresh start on the first day of the first month of a brand new year. But so many of the wellness resolutions that people make are ones that aren’t really very appropriate for the winter months.
When you look outside this time of year, all of the trees and plants are in a state of rest. Many of the animals are either hibernating or slowing down their activity. And our ancestors in earlier centuries were resting more during this period of reduced labor and eating hearty, warming meals with the abundance of the produce from the autumn harvest.
So, if you’re someone who struggles with the idea of trying to eat nothing but salads and green smoothies and doing lots of intense exercise at the gym, you could consider saving those resolutions for the summer months and shift your New Year’s resolutions to be more seasonally-appropriate for this time of year.
That might look like making a resolution to cook more homemade meals rather than eating out so often, or making it a goal to go to bed earlier at night than you usually do.
Whatever resolutions you choose to make, if you make ones that are more in alignment with the rhythms of the seasons, it will make those resolutions seem much easier to actually keep.
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The information in this post is not to be taken as medical advice and is not intended to diagnose or treat any disease.