Tagarchief: #newyearresolutions

Make that change: how to stick to new year’s resolutions

When January comes, we get new year’s resolutions fever. After a month of lavishness, exuberance, parties, mostly too much eating and too much drinking, we feel we need a change. The chips and cakes are abolished, we get a new gym subscription, we make a long list with all the books we will read; the goals are clear. The goals are high. And we go for it! We make greens smoothies are our daily diet, we go to the gym every other day, we put a pile of books next to our bed. And, we stick to this resolutions for …about 3 weeks. Guilty, I have been there. Research shows that more than 80% of the people start giving in after 3 weeks. And only the people who continue to respect their resolutions for at least 3 months, are the ones who can really reach their goals and complete the change.

Resistance to change is one the most human traits. Our human brain likes to use patterns, to stick to known paths, where there is the comfort of familiarity and experience. Even if it not the best thing to do, our brain prefers the known to the hypothetic better thing. Even if the known is being too sedentary, not having enough time for yourself or staying in a bad relationship. This is what we know to do, so even if we want to change, it is easier to get back to what we already know.

How come we all tend to fall back on to old habits? And how can we make that change for the better? There has been a lot of research done about it, and even though there is not yet a magic pill for the prefect outcome, here are a few things we need to take into account in order to stick with our new year’s resolutions.

1. Expect resistance. You should be aware of the fact that you will face resistance to the changes. It can happen in a couple of days after you start, or a few weeks in. Even if you have a great meal plan or a coach who’s a great help you will be tempted. Don’t get discouraged, it is very normal. It happens to everyone. And by knowing so, you can prepare yourself for the moments when you want to give in.

2. Prepare yourself. Be proactive and don’t let yourself be surprised. Recognise the behaviours that indicate you might be resisting the change. Whatever your goal is, you can ask advice or just google your struggles and find many indicators what you might be expecting. Do you find excuses not going to the gym? Do you keep on swiping on your phone instead of reading your book? These are quite clear indicators that you are self-sabotaging your resolution.

3. Be aware of the needs. After you’ve recognised those indicators, be aware of what you need to do in order to stick to your plan and goals. Thinks like having a healthy snack ready instead of grabbing the cookie jar, or asking a buddy to join you to go outside and get jogging, or talk to your support group. Knowing what your needs are when tempted and being aware of your need to act in the proper way, is already an amazing thing. Anticipation is key.

4. Set sensible goals. If you expect to drop 2 sizes in one month or to read a book a week, you should ask yourself: is this reasonable? Do I have enough time to read when I have a full-time job and two little kids? There is nothing wrong with being ambitious, but it has been proven that the higher the goals, the higher the risk of getting confused, angry and disappointed. And then you of course quit. So, in order not to get that frustrated and disappointed with yourself, set smaller goals, and go from there. The satisfaction is big when your reach a goal. And that motivates you to keep going.

5. Adopt new routines. When you want to really make a change, very often you really need to adopt a new routine. Meditating in the morning instead of sleeping half an hour longer, eating a salad instead of pizza, not filling your schedule to the max… it is really hard. The best thing to do is really to embrace your new routine, make it your mantra. Implement it in your daily life. Writing your new routine down can help a lot, making a chart or a drawing helps to also visualising it. Also keeping a diary, with your progress and set backs, helps.

6. Allow mistakes and just go back on track. So, you ate that piece of cake, or you skipped a gym appointment. It sucks, but it doesn’t mean that you might as well eat the whole cake and that you should to just unsubscribe from your gym. We all have weak moments. We all make mistakes. But the smart thing is to just go back to the new routine, continue with your plan, keep the change going. Even if you were sidetracked  for a moment.

7. Understanding why the change is needed. It seems very logical, but ask yourself, why do you really need that change? Is it that you feel too heavy or is it the lasted ‘fitgirls’ fashion? Do you want less social activities, or actually more time for yourself? Do you find watching Netflix unsatisfying, or reading a book is really giving you more joy? This last point, of understanding your needs and your wanting for change, that is a tricky one. Sometime it is hard to see that for yourself. A coach could help to clear your mind and figure out what your emotions are doing to you, of course. But already thinking about the ‘why’ will help you a lot. So, ask yourself this question and give yourself an honest answer.

There is nothing wrong with new year’s resolutions. Whenever you want to start with them. Prepare yourself well, be aware of what it takes to make all those needed changes in your life, take a deep breath… and just go for it!


The best things about having a dog

Today our dog Marley turns 7 month old it will also be a month since he joined our family. And it really feels like he belongs here, with us. Marley is a rescue dog, found as a 3 month old puppy in Bacau, Romania. Sheltered in a dog rescue shelter, brought by the foundation @hulpdoetleven to The Netherlands. Marley is super cute, super smart and super family friendly. It took our two cats only a few days to accept him, and they are getting closer every day. Yeay!

Marley and me first time at the beach

About 6 years ago we said goodbye to our old dog Emma. We raised her as a puppy, she was like our first child, and when we had to put her to sleep when she was 12 our heart broke. We decided not to get another dog. Not only because the emotional attachment to our old dog, but also for the practical reasons which seem very logical: too busy with work, school, it’s time consuming, we don’t need to go outside anymore when it rains, etc.  But our daughter who grew up with a dog, kept talking about getting one again. She was often bringing the subject up, trying to persuade us, begging and charming us.  It took us about 2-3 years of every now and then discussions until we decided to get another dog. And now that we have had Marley for a month, I can only say that there are just so many benefits of having a dog, and only a few impediments… that really do not count. Allow me to sum up a few of the best things about having a dog.

  1. Fresh air. You go outside much more often and get fresh air; this was the argument our 13-year-old daughter kept using. And she was telling is that she  and us would benefit from it and she was of course right. You have to walk the dog at least 3 times a day, as a puppy even more often. Of course you can just walk around the block, but many times you look for parks, forests, lakes or sea sides, and the quality of air is much better there. Your whole body gets better oxygenated, especially your brain, which makes you focus better on your work, be more creative and  also cope better with stressful situations.
  2. Physical well-being. Because you have to walk the dog a few times a day, you simply get more physical exercise. We all live in a much to sedentary world, where sitting all day long (behind a desk working on our laptop or on a sofa watching our favourite series) does lots of damage to our bodies. Before we had Marley I struggled many days with reaching my goals of 10.000 steps a day. Now I know I walk enough every day, so no need to wear my activity tracker anymore. The most natural way of moving our body for us humans is walking. Of course any type of sports is healthy, biking, swimming, tennis, but walking is essential for our joints, posture, intestinal activity, spine or muscle tension. Having a dog makes you go out, walk, move, engage in physical activity, breathe fresh air (see no 1) and all of this makes you really feel your overall physical well-being improving. Just one month of having a dog, eating sweets for Saint Nicholas, about 4 Christmas diners and a New Year’s Eve one, and not to forget all the extra alcohol intake, and yet I feel lighter and more fit than a month ago.
  3. Social interaction. I have discovered more about my neighbourhood in this past month than in the 4,5 years I live here just by walking the dog. We are fortunate enough to live opposite a park, where many dog owners from around us walk their dogs. And yes, most of them I know now by the name of their dogs, but still, I get to chat on almost a daily basis with many new people. Of course about our dogs and how funny, sweet or naughty they are, but also about so many other things. And not only in our park, but in many other places I go walk Marley. For me, working a lot from home, this gives an extra social dimension to my daily encounters. And I love it.
  4. Mood up. Spending even only 10 minutes with my dog and I already feel much better. There is something in the way a dog wiggles his tale, jumps around, cuddles, runs to play with other dogs, enjoys mud, lies on his back to get more cuddles, looks like he is smiling all the time, and many more of these kind of behaviour, that just increases my mood almost instantly. Research has shown that playing with your dog increases the levels of dopamine and serotonin in your brain, which are directly linked with your perception of pleasure and happiness. I am pretty sure this was a very thorough research. Dogs are also about your mental well-being.

    Dog and daughter enjoying nature
  5. Teaches children and teens responsibility. While our daughter wanted a dog very much, and found all sorts of arguments in favour of getting a dog, we did talk also about the responsibilities that go with it. Because a dog needs walking and food and care and cleaning after sometimes. Of course talk is just talk, so we were very interested to see how she will take upon her deal of responsibilities towards the dog. But she did. She walks Marley every day after school, and sometimes she needs to take the early morning shift. And she often joins one of us too when we go outside. She not only feeds the cats, but also the dog now. And when the dog was still having little accidents in the house, she cleaned up after him. I am very proud of her and I hope she will stick to this level of commitment to her pets.
  6.  Routine. A dog needs routine, or otherwise his bladder won’t be properly trained and we will be less happy too. And guess what, we humans also thrive when we have a better daily routine. Having to get up at a certain time in the morning and walk Marley, makes my head clear after taking in fresh air, and having already move my body makes me more ready to start with my plans for the day. I am not very good at following my daily routine by myself, so having a dog really helps me a lot.
  7. No more bore.  Actually, I don’t get bored easily, I always have things to do, plans to follow, dreams to create, and often not enough hours in a day. But I also like to take my time and wind down. And working by myself can sometimes feel like too soloistic and in need of someone to share my ideas or worries with. Well, Marley is a great asset. I can practice with him talks and trainings and he never finds any of my ideas silly.
Marley sleeping after a long walk.

So here we are, just a few days in the new year, after many celebrations. The clean sheet of 2018. Although every new day is a new beginning,  a new year has something magical. Fresh and full of possibilities. I am not (anymore) a new year resolution type. And I hope you don’t set too high goals to achieve yourself. It’s always tricky, you know. But if you are looking for more social contacts, more exercise, more fresh air, more fun and simply…to experience more moments of joy in your every day life, I wholeheartedly suggest to get a dog!