Experts share a few pointers on how to stick to our resolutions

The month of February makes it official. That’s when the ‘Exercise, Eat healthy, Stay happy’ resolution that we made and announced with an inspiring Facebook post and a cute Insta picture gets dumped. Once again, we thrive on our sweet and salt cravings, binge watch and forget about the walk-jog-play badminton/swim resolution. Why do we find it tough to sustain our resolutions by the second month, though we all agree the resolution to eat healthy, to weigh less on the weighing scale or volunteer at an animal shelter, orphanage or old age home should be more then a mere though during the new year’s time? We speak to experts to explore why our resolutions don’t last and how we can stay motivated.

One of the first hurdles in embracing the will-to- workout is our inability to answer a basic question — why do you want to exercise? Is it to lose weight, cut down on fat, cellulite, build muscle or to improve our mood. Fitness expert Sandeep Chakravarthy is sure that most of us have never asked ourselves that question, because if we did, we would know that fitness is never achieved in a short span of time. He says, “New fitness enthusiasts join gym with much hullabaloo, they even pay subscription for a whole year but when they do not lose weight within a a month, they lose interest and quit! They lack motivation and dedication to pursue.”

Such enthusiasts who change tracks can be of three types – working professionals with a bulging belly and lower and upper back problems; homemakers and the middle-aged with a sedentary lifestyle leading to excess fat in arms, lower abdomen, hips and thighs and finally students who expect results overnight.

Find solutions

The pointers to sustain motivation are do-able and easy; Understanding one’s body (even if you follow the same fitness programme as Mandira Bedi, the results could be different as each body takes its own time to respond), talking to a trainer before you start, maintaining a chart (measurement tape never lies), setting long time goals, cutting down on Unhealthy(read oily and fried and sweetened) food, chocolates, carbonated and alcohol-spiked drinks, sleeping early, having food as per a schedule and saying no to bad snacking, are all ways to get healthy.

If you have never exercised in life, begin with a regular 20-minute walk (30 or 40 minutes can be uncomfortable for sedentary people initially). Follow the routine for two weeks to slowly change pattern and increase the time span, by say 10 minutes.

Once you are comfortable with a 40-minute-walk, start walking with a half kilogram ankle weight or for every five minute walk, run/jog for 20 seconds.

“So for every 20-minute-walk, you jog for two minutes,” shares Sandeep suggesting one follow this pattern for at least six weeks to see slight results. “Bring in changes gradually and not feel pressurised; not as if you are not participating in a Miss/Mr India competition. Listen to your own consciousness and enjoy what you are doing. In one-and-half months, not only will your BP get controlled, but the exercise also influences hormone levels positively; that walk or run routine makes you feel lighter.”

Small changes on a weighing scale are enough to give you a kick. “Never take any powders or juices to reduce weight; those will only increase blood pressure and affect your kidneys. When you lose weight naturally, it gives body a different glow and confidence,” he advises.

A travel executive’s resolution was to stay happy without any negative feelings for an hour every day. Omar Khayyam’s lines ‘Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life’ adorned her WhatsApp status; she kept the resolution effectively for 40 days before calling it quits. “Happiness is a state of mind,” shares Chennai-based psychologist and certified happiness coach Sumathi Chandrashekaran. For the last two years, her clinic has been buzzing with people wanting to learn the skill of happiness.

The first step to be happy is to self-evaluate and know the difference between happiness and joy. “Happiness is temporary and joy lasts forever,” she says. So, even if you are a pro at analysing the hashtag trends on social media, assess yourself so that you are aware of your faults and can work on each of them.

Happiness and joy are connected, yet different. Watching movies with friends, indulging in a new dress or shoes, eating pani puri evokes happiness but the feeling is only temporary and can even become addictive to the extent that it becomes a way to make you happy. Instead, spending quality time with people (friends and family) who value and cherish you or doing actions that build warmth.

Sumathi asks us to accommodate mindfulness in our packed schedules so that we live in the present, stay focussed and not go in a reactive mode and create a volatile environment for ourselves. “Clarity in intent is also important; ask yourself why you need to do it,” she says. Starting a new enterprise, shifting gears or quitting a job… be clear of the purpose that is driving you.

Using mental filters are a must in our happy-days-goal. Sumathi explains these filters create a protective shade. Once you find yourself in a threatening environment — read unhealthy work atmosphere, screaming boss, demanding parents, sibling or a nagging spouse, use a filter so that their talk does not affect you. “Bring changes and be connected to memories and people that fill joy in your heart.” Continue this routine for three weeks and repeat so that happiness becomes a habit.

We start the year with an innate desire to help others. We begin volunteering and contributing our time and resources but within a couple of months, we are overwhelmed, unable to handle things; that’s when the wish seems impractical and unattainable. “The thought that you are going to make a difference is the main hindrance. Focus on yourself; the minute you think you are transforming, it gives you a powerful feeling,” observes Meera Shenoy of Youth4Jobs. When our approach is modest and the belief that one also learns, the experience is different.

Professionals often turn volunteers as part of their companies’ CSR activities. Many of them however drop out due to the distances they have to travel to participate. “If travelling takes up too much time, employees do not prefer going far to rural areas for such programmes; that restricts them to cities. Also, time management is an issue, until it is put in the KRA (key responsibility areas) of an employee.”

Vague resolutions or being too idealistic about changing the world will not yield results. Staying beyond the gestational period as a volunteer can be a rewarding and learning experience. “What people forget is that there is as much as you can learn from the less-privileged as they have to learn from you. The person may be disabled or blind but can give you as much as you give him/her.” Meera shares how a depressed widow filled the void she felt in her life by working with disabled people and saw the challenges they face. “When you give, the other side gives you back double,” she says.


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