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It’s That Time Again Douglas - New Years Resolutions, By Amy Hughes

It's that time of year again. That time where we take stock of progress, or not, in the last year and make some goals for ourselves in the coming one. We review the pros, the cons, the in-between on so many aspects of our lives and usually our health is up there on that internal review. So how are we doing now versus last year?

If you are anything like me, you're a year older, hopefully a year wiser, and because a year has passed you may find yourself right back to where you were this time last year: wondering how to finally get a handle on your health in the next year. "This year is gonna be my year!" is your mantra right? And that may work until about January 10th and old habits, and those cravings for foods you've sworn off, seem to pop back up and undermine you at every turn.

And you know what? That's normal. While we have access to some of the best health care resources in the state of Wyoming right here in Converse County, yet so much of our health feels like a personal choice. And those healthier alternatives we desire can seem to disappear in busy schedules, hectic lives, and the reality that a diet and exercise regime is more than just swearing off a specific food or walking more until we hit a desired weight, it's a lifestyle change at it's core. And that can be a bit scary when you think on it too much.

We humans are creatures of habits. And those habits didn't happen overnight did they? Probably not. A habit is something you've attributed many weeks, months, even years developing. That list of habits you want to deviate from isn't going to become reshaped in a week or month or year. It's a constant mental challenge to keep at it, to make that goal of changing your health something you are willing to dedicate so much time and energy to.

But it's amazingly rewarding when you do. When I made my own resolution to focus on my health several years ago, because I am so impatient with the process of becoming healthier I had to constantly remind myself that each day I was becoming healthier even if I couldn't see the actual change on a scale or with a measuring tape. I stumbled upon the following graphic and it helped me realize that if I kept quitting because I didn't see an immediate change, I was going to continuously be treading water when it came to my health:

Since I am visual I made boards on Pinterest to keep me inspired to not give up, to keep going. I created playlists to get me through those countless hours on the treadmill. I spoke with people close to me, and shared with them how much these goals meant to me. I bought in and wasn't afraid of letting anyone down, besides myself. And I hurt, and yeah I cried more than once, but I also began to laugh and smile and realize I was gaining on my goals.

Resolutions can be powerful things in our minds. And rightfully so! We dedicate lots of mental energy (and sometimes large amounts of funds) to starting out on the right foot, and we can feel a deep sense of guilt and regret when our humanness gets in the way and we fail to meet those goals we have for ourselves. And what we may not realize at the start is a resolution while it may be this lofty goal, is actually made up of small decisions every day. And for me it was items like avoiding the communal candy bowl, passing up a cola and popcorn at the movie in favor of a bottle of water, a full stop on baking for a few months, counting carbs/fats/proteins/vitamins and minerals, taking a walk after dinner every night, keeping to a running regimine, joining a gym with a friend and both checking in to see how the other is doing on attending. And I can tell pretty fast when I am not being as successful as I would like in these areas. Those small choices begin to add up and I am once more on the receiving end to feeling tired or rundown, out of shape.

These small victories end up becoming larger victories later when you buy a size smaller, can run longer distances, get up earlier with ease, devote more of your time to projects you love or just keep up with your kids schedules without feeling drained. And you build up the mental stamina over time to climb over greater personal hurdles. Remind yourself each day the only person you are competing with is the you from the previous day. While our society does push weight loss as the ultimate personal health goal, some of the added benefits include more energy, greater mental clarity, better stamina, better resistance to illness, better heart health and so on. We want to look great, but we shouldn't discount the goal of FEELING great, of receiving awesome diagnostics from our health care providers and we should focus on the internal just as much as the external.

For the upcoming year, your resolution doesn't have to begin January 1st. You can start this moment with small changes, a daily personal investment to put your health first on the list of daily care. But don't quit if you don't see changes immediately, keep going. The you from tomorrow or next week or next year will thank you for starting now.

A year from now you'll wish you had started today.