In my last column of 2017, I asked you to take a detour around the danger zone of holiday treats, libations and exhaustion to wake up Jan. 1, with confidence for the new year. However, I didn’t hear much shouting from you.
Now what? You put on a few extra pounds, spent too much money, feel exhausted from a lack of sleep and can’t seem to get back into your exercise routine. “Aha,” you say, “I’ll make a few New Year’s resolutions. That will fix everything.” And it does, for a day, a week, or maybe even a month. Despite your effort, you will almost certainly notice your descent back into your old habits. Resolutions are difficult to keep with a busy work life, dark and gloomy days that bring you down, and colder-than-normal weather. Lucky for you, this article came just in time. You can do it, no matter what goals you choose. Here’s how:
1. Break your goals down into smaller increments. Why do we only make resolutions on Jan. 1? Why not Feb. 1, March 1, etc.? Have a plan for the entire year, knowing the danger zone will be in your path again this year from October through December. Be prepared!
2. Baby steps. Be realistic about where you are, even if it is the bottom. Slowly work your way up to reach your goal. Realize that your decades-long goal of being back at your “high school weight” is not likely to happen if your 30th high school reunion is this summer and you’ve never been anywhere close to fitting into those old Levi’s.
3. Pay attention to what, when, and how much you eat. We’re attorneys; therefore, we’re the most intelligent beings on Earth. We know that lean meats, complex carbohydrates (those with a fiber content listed on the package), fruits, vegetables and water promote a healthy life. However, where we’re lacking is in the awareness of the handfuls of this and that, which are often consumed late in the day/night, too exhausted from the demands of the day to care. If you’re sitting in bed eating a bag of Doritos while watching TV, stop! Each time you decide to eat something that you know is not going to be in furtherance of your goals, look at your hand — yes, your hand. Your fist is the proper portion size of a serving of mashed potatoes, Chex mix or scoop of ice cream. Your palm (not fingers, just palm) is the appropriate size of a piece of fatty meat or starchy foods (bread, pancakes, Danish).
4. Write down only the “bad-for-you” food and drink that you consume. There is no reason to spend precious billable time writing down how many apples you ate. Write down what you don’t want to write down. This is where you’ll see progress being made, or not. If there isn’t much on the paper, either you’ve already quit on yourself, or you’re heading for the top. You’ll be the first to know.
5. Sleep! I saved this one for last because in my personal and professional experience, this is the most important and the most difficult for attorneys to attain. If you build your house on sand, it will crumble into a heap of rubble. If you build your house on cement, it will stand sturdy and strong against the elements of life. Sleep is that sturdy foundation. When you don’t have adequate sleep, you’re prone to make poor decisions about eating, drinking and exercising. You’ve said it before, “who cares, I’m tired and this frosted brownie will pick me up and give me energy.” “One more cocktail, it was a tough day and I need to unwind.” “I’ll get to the gym tomorrow after work, I’m exhausted today.” Of course, “tomorrow” never comes. Your enthusiasm about life, work, family and friends also fades as you exhaustively struggle to get through each day. Get the bounce back in your step. You successfully set an alarm every night to wake up the next day, so why don’t you set an alarm telling you to go to bed? Do it right now! Just as you don’t ignore the “wake up alarm,” don’t disregard the “go to sleep alarm,” either. When you successfully accomplish this goal, you’ll find that the “wake up alarm” isn’t so annoying after all.•
• Sharon Buechler is an attorney with Riley Bennett Egloff LLP and a certified personal trainer, health fitness specialist, and life and wellness coach. The opinions expressed are those of the author.