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My problem with New Years Resolutions...

Happy New Year! Welcome to 2019, I wonder what it has instore for us all.

I heard someone say a week ago, ‘my resolution this year is to add something to my life, rather than take away’, I then heard this again in the gym more recently.

I like the idea of this, adding something to your daily life/normal routine rather than removing something – it seems more appealing doesn’t it?

I have never been one for New Year’s Resolutions, perhaps because my willpower isn’t all that good. Perhaps I went for a task too big or too much of a change after all, habits take time to form and even longer to change, I know that much is true. Wasn’t it ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’ after all?

I was listening to a podcast this morning whilst driving, Quinn Henoch from ‘Clinical Athlete’ talking about forming habits and the longevity of this. He mentioned a term ‘decision fatigue’. This means that the ability to continue to make ‘good’ decisions is impaired, often as a result of the volume of decisions at that time. He goes on to describe how if you decide to change something, e.g. making the decision to be healthier by starting the gym, joining a sports team and starting a new diet, that the demand of changing so many things becomes too much ‘stress’ for the body, inevitably ending in failure. I thought this was a great way to describe not just New Year’s Resolutions but a number of things throughout life.

I realised that this scenario is applicable to many situations, I talk to a lot of people (some patients some friends) who have made decisions to change something and the choice has been ‘too much’ or without the right preparation which unfortunately leads to something along the line going wrong.

So why am I talking about this? For me in the physiotherapy world, results come as part of a process, small changes over time to allow adaptation and progression. If implemented correctly this means that the change is maintained. I feel that sometimes we get caught up in the ‘quick fix’ when realistically this process can take time to implement.

I think this is incredibly important in getting the best out of our bodies. If you decided to take up the gym this January, set smaller goals that you can maintain, for example, chose to go twice a week for 1 hour rather then 4 times and have to drop off or quit altogether because you’re too sore, other commitments get in the way, or your just not enjoying it. Or perhaps you’ve started a new diet cutting out carbohydrates. That’s a tough challenge for your body to cope with, I’m not a nutritionist but the same principle can be applied, can you maintain this process or does decision fatigue take over?

Perhaps this year instead of choosing to take something out of your life the decision should be to not remove it, but to make a smaller decision you can maintain.

The end result? Hopefully you are healthier or have gained in some way without losing something from your life.

So to summarise:

- Change takes time

- Smaller choices and changes are more easily maintained

- Expect progress to take time, especially with physiotherapy, don’t get disheartened that you haven’t got a quick fix. We’ve planned for the long term.

As always any questions can be directed to Thank you for reading.

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