Monday, January 21, 2013

Roping Other People into Your Resolutions

I have long believed in the power of peer pressure, or peer shame, or whatever you want to call it. I want to focus on this because it's that New Year's resolution-y time of year, and I figure I might help someone (anyone) with their goals for 2013.

Exhibit A: I spent a year post-high school graduation in Germany as an exchange student. I told EVERYONE. Once the decision was made but before I stepped on the plane, I had about six months to spread the word as far and as wide as possible, and I did exactly that.

"Wow, Germany? For a whole year? Rad, dude."

Yes, I was excited, but I was also terrified. I wasn't telling everyone simply because I wanted to brag, or to have something to talk about (believe you me, I can always find something to talk about!)--I was telling them because it meant I couldn't chicken out halfway through and come crawling back home. I told everyone I knew, and even some people I didn't, just so I wouldn't be able to give up before my year was up. I knew I couldn't bear having to answer the question, "But I thought you were going to be gone for a year?"

It worked! I was in Germany for eleven and a half months. Phew. It was a long haul and a lot of hard work, but I know it paid off in the end. Case in point: I still dream in German once in a while (last night, for instance). Plus, I met my boyfriend in a German class once I finally got to college, and we've been together for going on two years now.

He drinks to forget.

When it comes to Weight Watchers, we recommend doing the same thing with your weight-loss journey. You might not necessarily need to tell everyone you know, but keeping your friends and family in the loop with you will usually pay off in the end. If they know you're trying to eat more healthfully, they're less likely to push for that extra dessert or margarita. The downside is, sometimes people think this means that they need to look out for you, which to them means incessantly asking, "Can you eat that? Should you be eating that? You shouldn't have that; you're on a diet."

There ARE some diets that function like that, but the great thing about Weight Watchers (shameless promotion) is that you can have anything you want! You can still have margaritas and that extra dessert and some chips with your sandwich. Have your cake and eat it too--as long as you track it. As long as you budget for it. We're really big on planning ahead for special occasions, and giving you some leeway to enjoy yourself. Anyone can eat chicken and broccoli for a month and lose 20 pounds, but what happens the instant you stop eating just chicken and broccoli?

Donuts start talking to you, that's what.
Eat them to silence their tiny helpless voices.

Anyway, all of this brings me to my point about New Year's resolutions. This year, I resolved to run 12 miles each week. It took me a while to come to this number; at first, I was thinking 15 mi/week, but soon decided that would just be frustrating and time-consuming to me, so I set a more achievable goal. Once I'd decided upon 12 miles, I announced it to Facebook. And I've continued to announce it to Facebook, and to my friends, and to all my members in my WW meetings. And yes, I've had people ask me, "How many miles have you gone this week?" It keeps me accountable to someone besides myself, and if I ever slack off, it'll be just like if I'd come home from Germany at the half-way point. Embarrassing, cowardly...even somewhat shameful. Best not to let that happen. This last week, I was lazy, which left me with nine miles I had to run on Friday and Saturday. I did it, though! All because I knew someone OTHER than me was going to be wondering how I'd done.

If you're not comfortable with telling the whole world, just pick one person, or a couple. You don't have to announce it on Facebook; you can just as easily message a few friends (or text, or whatever)--just so someone else holds you accountable. It's easy to make excuses to yourself. It's a lot harder to make them to other people.

One last tip: find someone to help you with your resolution. Currently, I meet my friend Jesse at 6 a.m. every Monday and Thursday. Those days, I'm guaranteed to get a run in, because omg, my friend is WAITING for me, I can't be that total flake who doesn't show up even though someone is WAITING out in the COLD and the DARK for ME! (It was 5 degrees when I got up at 5 this morning, "feels like -2.")

"I can't believe you abandoned me. Oh, wait, I actually froze
to death waiting for you. This is just a really terrible Monday."

In conclusion, this quote always keeps me motivated: "Someone busier than you is running right now." (Not sure of the original source. If you know, tell me and I'll attribute it.)

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