By Jacques Fleury
The bells and whistles of Christmas are but a distant memory; the holiday dramatics are now over and a New Year has dawned upon us, perched like a proud and hopeful eagle, as we begin to make the often provisional promises to ourselves for the New Year. However, I know that I have made promises to myself in the past that I was unable to keep and I’m almost certain that you too will succumb to a similar fate. But I am not necessarily here to simply tell you that the building blocks of your New Year resolutions are doomed to collapse, I just want to emphasize some key strategies about how you can be more methodical and realistic about them; thus minimizing the possibility of failure and ensuring a grader degree of success.
The faltering economy will most likely affect New Year resolutions in 2011. Surfeits of people fell victims to the unsteady economy and lost their jobs and homes. No one was impervious to the dark claws of economic scarcity. Even the Television show “Inside Edition” profiled a lawyer who went from litigating in the courtroom to cleaning the bathroom by taking a job as a housekeeper; proving that—as I’ve always known—anyone can succumb to hardship and essentially become jobless and/or homeless at any given time no matter what their circumstances.
December 21st marked the National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day, a fact that I just recently became aware of and which I’m certain that most people don’t even know about. I long for the day when we won’t need a day set aside to commemorate the homeless because they’ll all be housed. Nevertheless, there is good news about homelessness in Massachusetts. During the 31st Annual Homeless Census on Dec. 6th, Jim Greene, director of the city’s Emergency Shelter Commission went around town counting the city’s homeless. “City and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) figures released on [Dec. 21st] show a 30 percent decrease in homelessness in the past five years,” writes Justin A. Rice of the Boston Metro. He goes on to say that, “The number of chronically homeless people has decreased 25 percent, which officials attribute to the city’s…efforts to permanently house the homeless.” Hence for those that are still homeless, their New Year resolution will probably be to become permanently housed and to them I say I find that prayer and perseverance is the cure to all barriers, so keep pushing through until
Another omnipresent New Year resolution that can be equally as pressing for some as the homeless finding housing is: losing weight. Most of you probably have this at the top of your list. I know I do. For those of us who are overweight, reaching this goal may mean more than mere words can express. I mean, who wouldn’t like to get rid of those love handles that we find not so “lovable” anymore because they are waging a war against our waist lines and yes to some extent, our love lives as well. Our weight can be perceived as the factor getting in the way of us feeling good about our bodies and more importantly about ourselves as individuals. Our fat can be perceived as eroding our self confidence and staining our auras. So what are we doing wrong when it comes to achieving this seemingly realistic goal to lose weight? The answer is that we are often not realistic about the way we go about reaching this goal.
“ A resolution is a false promise we make to ourselves once a year to make ourselves feel less guilty about how we’ve managed our health...finances…relationships and so forth,” declares Dr. Sanford Siegal, D.O., M.D., best known for the internationally popular Dr. Siegal’s Cookie Diet Weight Loss System. He goes on the point out three reasons why weight loss resolutions fail: “1) their goals are [often] unattainable (any diet that claims that you can lose more than twelve pounds per month should be avoided); 2) they are simply too hungry to stick to their diet and; 3) the diet they’ve chosen produces such slow weight loss that they lose their motivation/”
“Rather than harnessing yourself with a laundry list of bad habits, choose just one [goal] that you truly want to achieve in this lifetime and focus all of your attention on the one [goal],” according to Kim Simpson in an article on the internet entitled: “69 Do’s and Don’ts for Successful New Year Resolutions.” We often have a goal without a plan as to how we are going to pragmatically achieve this goal. My suggestion is this: first decide how much weight you want to lose and how much allotted time you hope to reach it by. Then decide what you are willing to do during that time to make your goal accessible. For example, for me, I know that I have set a goal for myself to lose 10 pounds in one month. I have set a plan to work out at least three times a week, replace breakfast and lunch with a meal replacement drink and a sensible dinner no later than 7 p.m. in the evening. Typically, you should eat three hours before you have to go to bed. I’ve also decided to go for a walk after dinner to burn calories and tire myself so that I can get a good night’s sleep and have my metabolism high enough to melt calories off my blossoming derriere while I sleep.
Here are three of the Do’s and three of the Don’ts from Simpson’s list in helping you keep your weight loss goals: I resolve to…1) make just one life altering resolution, not 10 major ones. 2) I resolve to…develop a plan that includes short and long term goals. 3) I resolve to…do it daily-one goal one day at a time foe one year. And now three of the Don’ts. 1) I resolve not to…procrastinate (get going now, today!) 2) I resolve not to…get overwhelmed, or discouraged by setbacks. 3) I resolve not to…grow weary, bored or burned out. But exercise and diet are simply not enough.
Most of us who are overweight start out by hating our bodies but yet expect it to corporate with us when we try to lose weight. Well I have news for you. It doesn’t work that way. Your body is keenly aware of your disgust and utter hatred for it. You won’t be able to trick it into thinking that you love it when you really don’t. Basically, you have no other choice but to make friends with your thunder thighs and love handles if you expect it to cooperate with your weight loss regimen. You must learn to love what you’ve got to start with before you can expect it to work cohesively with you on any level. I know that this may sound silly but try walking around naked in your home, hopefully when no one else is there if that makes you more comfortable. By doing this, you are learning to be comfortable naked. I know it will be difficult at first because I’ve done it and it took me a long time before I began to get comfortable myself. I believe by walking around naked, you are communicating to your body that you are not ashamed of it, that you love it just as it is right now. Soon, you will be able to be naked around your romantic partner without having to hide under the covers or turning off the light during sexual intimacy.
The other “love ritual” I suggest that you do for your body is stand nude in front of a mirror and allow your eyes to explore every inch of your body. At first you will be tempted to look away and find fault in every crevice of your body, however, you must try to resist that urge and over time, you will become increasingly more comfortable with yourself. Fundamentally, my point is this: if you are unable to bestow upon yourself love and respect, how can you then expect someone else to give you something that you are either unwilling or unable to give to yourself? As Whitney Houston has sang many times over: “learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all.”
So Stand in front of a mirror and proclaim to yourself “I am fabulous and lovable, thin or fat, housed or homeless!” Don’t fall prey to what the media and popular culture tell you what you should or should not look like or your value as a human being based on your socio-economic standing. Try to overcome your most ferocious critic of all time: yourself. A Happy New Year hopefully means a Happy New You!
Jacques Fleury’s book: “Sparks in the Dark: A Lighter Shade of Blue, A Poetic Memoir” about life in Haiti & America was featured in the Boston Globe. Sample or buy the book at: www.lulu.com. 20% of proceeds will go to Haiti charity Partners in Health. For personal appearances or comments contact Jacques at: firstname.lastname@example.org.