New York City’s Times Square ball has dropped, and people around the globe have posted a fresh 2014 calendar page. During my family’s celebration, our wheat-farming neighbors stopped by to visit and raise a glass. Predictably, one of the discussion topics was New Year’s resolutions. Survey data on New Year’s resolutions shows that typical resolutions are repeated ten years in a row, with one-quarter being abandoned within the first fifteen weeks, beckoning the question: What boosts the odds of a successful resolution? Author and international expert on success, Robert Maurer Ph.D, cover this topic in his first book One Small Step Can Change Your Life. Maurer describes how too much change, even positive change, can sound a primordial alarm in the emotional region of the brain. When this occurs too strongly, it can cause people to sabotage their resolution.
If your resolution is to get fit and trim during 2014, you could go on a radical food and exercise regimen that eschews your favorite foods. For some people, this cut-to-the-chase approach works, but for the majority, in a short amount of time, strong feelings of deprivation and depression can surface.
In Maurer’s book, he describes how a woman wanted to begin using her treadmill, but didn’t want to give up her enjoyable read-the-paper and drink-her-coffee morning time. Dr. Maurer coached her to stand on her treadmill while enjoying her coffee and newspaper. After a few weeks of just standing, she eventually conditioned herself to enjoy being on the treadmill, and turned it on while reading the paper. What I find most pleasing about Maurer’s small-step approach, which he calls kaizen, is that people are encouraged to counter-intuitively ‘lower the bar’ making it easier to be successful.
Another New Year’s guest at our home was a local university economist who happened to research canola as a graduate project. Coincidentally, our farmer neighbors happened to have experimented with planting some canola, which led to some interesting discussion about soil conditions, seeds, farm equipment, and watering needs. This dove-tailed into our resolutions, especially how growing a first-time crop and making lifestyle changes, require plenty of patience, perseverance, and flexibility.
In the spirit of taking small steps to create success, you might consider your hydration as an important resolution. Plants and the human body require appropriate hydration for proper functioning and growth. Yet many people avoid drinking water because it has the unwanted side effect of increased bathroom stops, especially problematic for teachers, nurses, dental hygienists, and equipment operators to name a few. Your bladder is made up of over-lapping cells that respond better to smaller amounts of water being consumed throughout the day. Small sips, as opposed to big chugs, cause the cells to expand more slowly, delaying the urgent need to empty your bladder. Beverages containing caffeine, such as coffee or Red Bull, speed up the filling of your bladder, contributing to more frequent urination.
At the checkout counter in many of Spokane’s supermarkets, Providence Health Care offers a complimentary heart-healthy booklet. The current edition discusses the difficulty in getting the prescribed eight servings of daily water. It also mentions how more than two-thirds of the human body weight is comprised of water, and that your brain is 95 percent water! To assist you in getting closer to the eight cups (64-ounces) of daily water, try a kaizen small step. If you’re drinking one cup of water per day, aim for adding one more cup. If you’re at four cups, try bumping it to five. If flavor is the holdup, the Providence booklet recommends adding a slice of lemon, lime, cucumber, or other fruit to boost the flavor, and/or choose caffeine-free low-calorie beverages instead of sugar-sweetened. By bumping up your hydration by a cup or two a day, you’ll give your health a boost, and have a successful New Year’s resolution. Cheers!