Perhaps you resolved to be happier and healthier in 2012. If you feel overwhelmed or do not know where to start, a great book just came across my desk that could be exactly what you want. Brett Blumenthal has written 52 Small Changes: One year to a happier, healthier you, and it looks like an excellent program.
On the first page of the introduction, I was immediately impressed that not only is this research-based, but she has done her homework and cited her references. All of her theories seem to be right on, and it is all things we need to hear when trying to make a change, even if it seems basic. The approach is holistic, including change items in four sections: diet and nutrition, fitness and prevention, mental well-being, and green living. If you are suspicious that “green” is simply a marketing label, I would venture that these are truly healthy living habits that don’t quite fit into diet and nutrition or fitness and prevention. Each change is something that will lead to a physically and mentally healthier life, so even if you never complete the book, you can be healthier and happier.
While she is using the kaizen theory to create an entire lifestyle change in a year, I do think this is a lot of change very quickly. No single change will be cemented in a single week. You will still be practicing when you add in the next thing. After several weeks, there may be a lot to track. Brett states that you can use this book in any way that fits for you. That may mean mastering each change (which could take several weeks or months) before moving on to the next one. It may mean starting on January first. It may mean starting on Monday. It may mean starting on or a year before a milestone birthday. It may mean picking and choosing what is most applicable to you right now.
Today while reviewing the kaizen theory of making small changes with a client, in this case to reduce the amount of sugar she puts in her coffee, she stated that the first cup of the morning is always the most difficult. She reported that if she is able to drink the first cup with less sugar, the rest of the coffee that she has that day goes down much more easily. This makes sense because coffee is one of those things that is an “acquired taste;” however, she said the same thing was true for drinking water. If she worked out earlier in the day, she would drink water throughout the day, put down the coffee, and not pick up any more calorie-laden beverages. (more…)
We all know that New Year’s resolutions have an extremely high rate of failure. Life change is tough work and many people set very ambitious goals. Life will get in the way one way or another. Too often people allow slip ups or breaks to discourage them to the point of giving up, and by March we’re back to life as it was the previous year. How can you successfully take advantage of the new beginning of a new year?
One of my favorite examples is the story of a woman who drank sweetened tea throughout each day, until her doctor diagnosed diabetes and instructed her to drastically limit her intake of sugar. Going from a tablespoon of sugar per glass of tea to unsweetened tea could be a change drastic enough to cause distress, defeat, and hopelessness. One sip and she’s likely to think unhelpful thoughts like “I can’t do this” or “I’ll never get used to this,” and resign herself to drinking her sugary tea. Instead, I would encourage her to swipe just a few granules of sugar off the top of her tablespoon before adding it to her tea. (more…)