How many times have you vowed to lose 20 pounds starting with the New Year or said that this was the year you were going to cut back on your drinking or quit smoking once and for all?
One survey listed the top three resolution categories in order of popularity:
And the expectations and success/failure rate of these resolutions showed that:
The bottom line is all about your self-perception and belief in yourself. If you believe that you have unlimited, strong self-control and confidence in your ability to set and achieve your goals, then your chances of success are much greater and you will naturally set more goals for yourself.
The second part of successfully meeting your goals is becoming an active participant. Just saying that you’re going to quit smoking doesn’t automatically make it happen. You have to make it happen by doing research on effective quitting methods and seeking out other means of support and resources to achieving your goal. Otherwise you’ll be making a half-hearted attempt that winds up in failure.
Some of the most common New Year’s resolutions center on leading a healthier lifestyle and with that often comes the challenge of breaking addictive behaviors. The addictions that top most New Year’s resolution lists are smoking and overeating, two habits that can have detrimental health effects over time. Unfortunately, many fail at their attempts to break these habits and ultimately fall back into their old patterns.
According to Dr. James Prochaska, director of the Cancer Prevention Research Center at the University of Rhode Island and co-author or the book Changing for Good, in order to make most behavioral changes you have to go through six stages:
If you lapse -- sneak a smoke or binge on birthday cake -- the goal should be to go back to the plan as soon as possible,” said Kristin Gustashaw, clinical dietitian at Rush University Medical Center. "It's OK to make a mistake … That's where most people fall apart; they don't learn from their mistakes and (they) give up,” she said.
Smoking is one of the most difficult addictive behaviors to conquer. Research has shown that even those who are successful in quitting the first time around suffer the same 75 percent relapse rate as recovering alcoholics and heroin addicts.
Americans Going up in Smoke
With the New Year just begun, more and more of the 24.8 million estimated smokers make a vow to give up their smoking habit. Oftentimes, they end up failing because they don’t know how to go about quitting. In addition to the fact that tobacco is the leading preventable cause of disease, disability and death in the United States, there is an abundance of startling statistics that act as motivators, driving smokers’ desire to quit smoking:
Smoking is one of the hardest addictions to break because of the strong addictive effects of nicotine, the main drug in tobacco. Nicotine quickly begins to make changes in your brain by building a tolerance for it, causing you to feel like you need to smoke more to get the same initial rush.
The challenge to quit smoking depends on three key factors:
Effective Treatments for Tobacco Addiction
Usually the first few weeks of trying to quit are the most difficult and get much easier after the three-month mark. There are several techniques to quitting smoking and some that work for others may not necessarily work for you. The best strategy is to find the method that works for you that you can stick with to accomplish your quitting goal.
Here are two different techniques you can try:
Replace (vs. Eliminate)
Consider, what does this mean? If you have ever gotten close to what is considered eliminating an addiction you have likely also gained new cravings or potential addictions as a result.
For instance, many ex-smokers replace their cigarettes with junk food.
When you have a strong compulsive reflex conditioned response for something it must be replaced with something as strong or stronger in order for most people to break the addiction. This is due to the subconscious pre-conditioned reflex response, which is called an addiction.
Ideally, decide ahead of time what behavior you will use to replace your addiction, and ensure it is both healthy and controlled.
Add These Four Simple Lifestyle Changes to Increase Your Success Rate
In addition to smoking cessation techniques and the “replace versus eliminate” method, there are also some important things to remember that will help you significantly in your goal to quit smoking:
Aside from smoking, the other addictive behavior many people struggle with on a daily basis is overeating. This is a result of many societal things we have been exposed to over the years -- fad diets, subliminal advertising, getting a treat when we were younger for being well-behaved and the list goes on and on.
Over time, this distorts our way of thinking of food in an unhealthy way and results in episodes of overeating.
Experts say that eating becomes a problem when you can no longer distinguish between eating because you are hungry and stopping once you are comfortable.
There are several lifestyle factors that act as triggers to overeating and overindulging. As with smoking, the key is familiarizing yourself with your triggers and knowing what to do to overcome them.
Below are common overeating triggers along with techniques you can use to control them.
Not getting enough Zzzzz’s
Feeling groggy and mentally foggy aren’t the only things happening to your body following a sleepless night. Lack of sleep also sets off a cycle of metabolic changes, affecting the hormones that control your appetite and satiety (leptin and ghrelin), which may also be the culprits behind your extra weight.
Also, it’s common to reach for sugary foods and those high in carbohydrates for an energy lift when you are feeling exhausted.
If sleep deprivation is contributing to your weight gain you could:
”Replace” Stress-Induced Weight Gain with Calm, Healthy Enjoyment
Over time constant stress on your body results in the production of high doses of hormones like cortisol that when mixed with insulin causes your body to store more visceral fat and increase your appetite, leading to overindulgence in foods high in fat, sugar and salt.
If your weight is being sabotaged by stress you can try replacing it with these calming highly focused enjoyable stress-reduction techniques:
To further complicate trying to control our cravings are triggers you are faced with on a daily basis. Smelling scents of fast-food restaurants as you are driving, seeing the picture or a commercial of a favorite fatty food or passing by a bakery that carries your favorite cookies can all bring on cravings.
You can learn to tame your craving triggers by “REPLACING” them (vs. attempting to eliminate them, which rarely works as most often they are then replaced by other addictions by chance rather than by choice):
Everyone makes mistakes and the trick is to get back on track toward your goals, and again focusing on replacing your prior behaviors with new desired behaviors. There are four simple ways you can do this:
Experts say there are things you can do to know when you are beginning to feel full and have reached that comfortable level. Replace old behaviors that have prevented you from losing weight with new behaviors. Some of these eating techniques include:
Often, exercise is the best choice! Most people who try to eliminate one behavior usually gain a new addiction in the process. So choose carefully in advance. A small investment of time and small amount of money "now" could save you tens of thousands of dollars later, plus make a world of difference in your improved health and well being!
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How to Quit Smoking … for Good!
How to Stop Overindulging
Why Most New Year’s Resolutions Fail and How to Set Your Resolutions For Success
Chicago Tribune October 30, 2009
American Heart Association
Web MD Smoking Cessation
CNNHealth.com September 18, 2009
WebMD Overcoming Overeating