Make Your Holidays Happy and Your New Year’s Resolutions Realistic

Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, and Happy New YearLesley and I want to wish everyone a Happy and Healthy Holiday season, regardless of what holiday you are celebrating. This year, it’s nice to have Christmas and Hanukkah together because in my house we celebrate both. Celebrating Hanukkah, we just love the latkes and brisket, the lighting of the candles, and what the Hanukkah story represents (if you don’t know the story, I urge you to read about it).

And for Christmas, I really enjoy buying for my family. This year we are blessed to celebrate the holidays with our first granddaughter, which sure makes this time even more special by sharing family traditions with a child. Years ago my Mom told me that Harry Reasoner (one of the founders of 60 Minutes) said, “It’s not Christmas unless you spend more than you have”, and she and I live by that motto. Of course, it probably is not a wise motto because I’m usually paying things off until April, but it sure has been fun and I know the kids enjoy reaping the benefits!

This time of year does bring up happy memories. It also serves as a time of reflection and a nudge from those pesky New Year’s resolutions. Lesley and I compiled a list of five New Year’s resolutions and offer our tips for success in actually achieving them.

 #1: Consider NOT making New Year’s Resolutions

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If you make the same resolutions, and it causes you stress year after year because you haven’t achieved what you envisioned, why are you doing this to yourself? Seriously! It’s okay to try something different, and maybe something different is to keep doing what you are already doing.

Before you make the same resolution, ask yourself:

  • How important is it to me?
  • Will I feel guilty if I don’t achieve the resolution?
  • Is this a reasonable goal that I can reach in 2017?

Be honest, and be lenient with yourself. If the thought of not having to make resolutions is a huge relief, then don’t read anymore (we don’t want you to be tempted). If, on the other hand, this first resolution causes heart palpitations, you might want to keep reading to see what you can do to have healthy resolutions in 2017.

#2: Eating healthy and losing weight

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Ok, everyone starts with this resolution, right? First, make your resolutions realistic! Losing 10 pounds may not be in the cards for you, so start small. Try to resist that cookie or cupcake or latte or other favorite treat, a few times a week. Rather than lose weight, try to maintain your current weight. I lost 10 pounds a couple of years ago, and in one summer of fun I gained it all back! My weakness is sugar, so I try to resist sugar each day; some days I am successful, others not so much. Be forgiving because you’ll sabotage yourself if you are too rigid. I can’t resist cookies, so I treat myself at least once a week and as you can imagine Christmas cookies are a real problem for me!

Note from Lesley: When you’ve resisted a sweet or two (or bag of chips), move on to another step. Rather than diet, consider learning more about meals that are balanced with protein, carbohydrates, and fat. In the United States, the biggest weight loss businesses focus too much on calories and not the nutrients that we eat. If you’re trying to slim down, it’s not about weight loss, it should be about fat loss. And you can’t burn fat if you’re not eating enough!

When you’re really committed, consider a consultation with a fitness trainer or nutritionist to keep you motivated and on track.

#3: Make exercise part of your life

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If you do not currently exercise, start by walking for 15 minutes, 3 times a week, and then increase the time by 15 minutes once a month. Small steps really do matter. Lifestyle changes don’t happen overnight. I used to start an exercise program and I’d find an excuse not to go one day, and then the habit was broken. What has gotten me to stick with the routine is that exercise has eliminated my back pain, something I’ve struggled with for years.

Another exercise tip is to work out with a friend! My friend and I have been working out together for 3 years now – about 4 days a week, so I don’t skip the gym or our walks because I know she is counting on me to show up, and I’m counting on her.

Exercise in the morning before work. Yes, I know it’s not easy getting up at 6 am, but the benefits are worth it. Honestly, if I can do it, then you can too. I used to never exercise ever, and I was beginning to get short of breath going up a flight of stairs and that was pretty scary to me. You will feel the beneficial effects of the exercise all day, I promise.

Note from Lesley: If starting out with exercise 3 times a week seems like a lot, start with one day and build from there. I can only fit in two days a week, and my opinion is that is better than nothing! Also, if you have young children or are simply not a morning person, make exercise part of your routine after work. Pick a gym or a favorite walking spot that is on the way home. Bring your kids with you! One night a week I bring my 3-year-old with me to the gym and she sits on the side and watches. You may be tired those first 5 minutes, but you will feel better after you’re done!

#4 Live your “bucket list”

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Live your ‘bucket list’ and by that I mean,

don’t make a list of things you want to do before you die, do it right now. We only have today, you know. Live each day fully, do what you want to and make your bucket list a way of life. My only regret is that my bucket list didn’t include exercise until my 5th decade, but it’s part of my life almost everyday now, so it’s never too late.

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@Trueffelpix | Adobe Stock

#5 Keep things simple

Pick one thing to work on 2017 – whether that’s exercise, eating healthy, organizing, or learning something new – don’t try to do everything all at once. Making changes to your lifestyle is not easy! Start with baby steps, give yourself the opportunity to be successful, and then add another goal. For example, if you want to lose 30 pounds in 2017, don’t focus on the total weight. Just say: I’m going to lose 10 pounds. When you’ve lost 10 pounds then say: I’m going to lose 10 pounds, and so on. In other words, break your New Year’s resolutions into smaller pieces so you can feel your accomplishments sooner. And remember:

Don’t give up on what you want most for what you want now.

We’d love to hear from you about how you enjoy the holidays, or what your New Year’s resolutions are, so please send us your comments. We wish you a very happy and successful New Year!