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New resolutions for a new year

While our cozy memories of the holidays are slowly fading, our scales and tighter pants still give testimony to the feasts that were enjoyed. The end of the year is also a time of self-reflection, which often leads to new plans for the coming year. Ambitious resolutions are made, and we are highly motivated to keep them during the first weeks of January. Above all, these include regular exercise, losing weight or even abstaining from nicotine. And yet, our enthusiastic plans usually only last for a few months or are already discarded at the end of January. This begs the question, why is it so hard for us to keep our good intentions?

Behaviorists have discovered a possible explanation: according to them, the deliberate conflict between voluntary and seemingly forced activities and behaviors, plays an important role. Due to this, we perceive our self-imposed exercise session as a chore which stands in direct opposition to a favorite leisure activity, such as a cozy evening on the couch after a long day of work. Most of the time this conflict is resolved by the path of least resistance. On the other hand, if we succeed to establish a routine, the once unloved behavior becomes an unconscious habit, which is harder to put off. Likewise, our inner reward system decides on the success of our good intentions. Generally, actions with immediate rewards are preferred over those that are rewarded only during the course of time. That bar of chocolate within reach is therefore much more attractive than exercising, something which will only produce positive results after sticking to it for a few weeks. Pleasure is therefore a key to long-term success, for example, making friends in community activities. Therefore, team sports make more sense than solitarily exercises at the gym.

Since it is a risk factor for many diseases, overweight is a key target for good intentions. However, the first setback or periods of stagnation can often lead to a relapse, which in turn leads to regaining the lost weight. But regular weigh-ins can assist us in our fight against the additional kilos. It can be even more effective knowing the measurements of our body composition by using seca mBCA. It provides accurate data on the proportion of different body compartments and our current health and nutritional status. If the weight remains constant despite training and diet, the mBCA can show changes in the fat and muscle mass and help us maintain our motivation in these critical phases.

If New Year resolutions are to remain permanent, there are a few key objectives. First, our goals should be realistic and be taken in small steps. It is very unlikely to change our whole life all in one go. Therefore, it is best to focus only on changing one behavior at a time. Another important point is community and social support. Sharing experiences, stress and motivation with others will yield better results. Finally, setbacks should be considered a normal part of change. It is crucial to not let them demotivate us and keep pursuing our chosen path.

Image 1  © “Amir” / Fotolia.com 

Image 2  © “LIGHTFIELD STUDIOS” / Fotolia.com