One and Done: The Only New Year’s Resolution You’ll Ever Need
It usually goes something like this
- I will lose 20 pounds!
- I will finally get in shape!
- I will eat better!
- I will be more environmentally conscious!
- I will cook for my family more often!
- I will spend more time with my family!
- I will stop ordering pizza and eating fast food!
- I will save more money!
- I will enjoy life more!
- I will be better about helping others!
- I will be a better person!
Whether you scribble your resolutions into a journal or post them on the refrigerator or just repeat them to yourself in your head as the New Year approaches, you have probably made New Year’s resolutions before. According to the University of Scranton Journal of Clinical Psychology, 45% of Americans usually make New Year’s resolutions, and although 75% of resolutions are maintained through the first week, the number drops significantly with each passing week, so that by six months, barely anyone is sticking to it. A lot of people don’t even remember what their resolution was anymore by June. Bummer.
Yet, I love New Year’s resolutions. I think they are sweet signs of optimism. They prove that people still want to better themselves, and believe they can do it, no matter how many times they fail. I even think my own New Year’s resolutions are adorable. Lose 20 pounds? Aww. That’s so cute, the way I keep thinking I’m going to do that!
But every year’s experience begs the question: Why is it so hard to execute a perfectly reasonable decision to do something good for yourself, like get healthier or spend more time with people you love? The problem, says many an expert, is that our resolutions are either too various, and/or too lofty. We set too many goals and we lose track. We also set goals that are a little bit too difficult—just outside the realm of reasonable.
But what if I told you that just one simple resolution could accomplish just about every resolution I’ve listed at the beginning of this article, all in one fell swoop? Eleven resolutions in one? And what if I told you that one single resolution could actually be easy?
When you focus on one resolution instead of many and that one resolution is something you can actually do, you are about a zillion times more likely to stick with it (that’s the official statistic—a zillion).
What could this magical and powerful resolution be? Are you ready for this? It’s kind of radical, so maybe you should sit down. Here goes:
This year, I will eat mostly whole food.
Wow. I know, right? You have to admire the simple elegance. This one resolution is powerful because you don’t have to think about all those other things you want to do, and yet, they will all start to happen, just because you are eating whole food. Let me explain:
- I will lose 20 pounds! The number might not be exact, but whether you need to lose 20 pounds or 10 pounds or 5 pounds or 50 pounds, you’ll start moving in the right direction when you eat mostly whole food. Whole food fills you up faster than packaged food. It’s also more nourishing, so your body feels like it actually ate a meal and you aren’t as hungry later. The more you get into the whole food habit, the more your bad eating habits will fall away; you’ll feel better, and your weight will normalize. Sure, there are overweight whole food eaters. If you eat too much whole food, then you might remain a bit broader around the middle. But while you can probably imagine eating too much candy or too many doughnuts, not very many people binge on apples or carrot sticks or home-roasted chicken with brown rice. Try it. You might find it’s the easiest way you ever lost weight.
- I will finally get in shape! When you eat whole food, you are better nourished, so you feel better, you have more energy, and you are more likely to feel compelled to move your body the way nature intended. Simple.
- I will eat better! Whole food = eating better. Done and done.
- I will be more environmentally conscious! Whole food, especially if it’s locally produced and/or organic, is much kinder and less invasive to the environment than packaged food churned out in a factory and packaged up in lots of cardboard and plastic.
- I will cook for my family more often! You can eat a lot of whole food raw, like fruits and vegetables, but you’ll likely want to cook some of it, especially in the chilly weather. Roast meat, boil and mash potatoes, steam veggies, stew fruit or bake it into pies. You don’t have to spend hours every day. Cook on the weekends and store foods for the week, or just whip up simple things during the week—a big salad, turkey soup, rice and peas. It doesn’t take long to throw a few potatoes in the microwave and broil a couple of steaks. The more you do it, the better you’ll get at it, and it really can be fun. Consider it your new hobby (you were thinking of adding, Start a new hobby to your list, weren’t you?).
- I will spend more time with my family! Eating dinner at the table with your family is one of the nicest ways to bond. Even if the teenagers complain, all you have to do is say, “No, Junior, you are not eating your dinner in your bedroom while playing that video game. Your mother needs to be able to look you in the eye for at least 15 minutes per day to make sure your brain isn’t fried.” Meanwhile, teenagers are always hungry because it’s exhausting battling all those virtual aliens and doing homework and friending people on Facebook, so they might even gulp down the vegetables. It’s win-win.
- I will stop ordering pizza and eating fast food! The more you gain a taste for real, whole food, the more the taste of cheap fast food loses its appeal. Sure, we all order a pizza every now and again, but it’s what you do most of the time that counts.
- I will save more money! Whole food is cheaper. They say it’s not, but it is. Fresh veggies and fruits are cheap in season and frozen veggies from the off season can still be your friends. Whole poultry and roasts are cheaper than pre-made frozen dinners when you figure how much meat you get for your dollar. Buy staples in bulk. Rice, beans, nuts and seeds, oatmeal, flour, even special treats like local honey and maple syrup and almond butter—the bulk bins are bargain central.
- I will enjoy life more! When you’re feeling better, losing weight, exercising more, eating better, and spending more time with your family, not to mention saving money, how can you not enjoy life more?
- I will be better about helping others! Feeding your family whole food is a great way to help others. Buying local, organic, and/or fair trade products helps others in ways you might never even consider. It’s a ripple effect.
- I will be a better person! Define better: Happier? Nicer? Healthier? If that’s what better is, then sure. Whole food will do you right.
So there you have it: One resolution. You can do that, right? Just the one. It’s all you need, and it can and will transform you if you let it. Whole food is that powerful.
Best of all, you can really stick to this one. It’s reasonable and realistic. Let’s do it together. We’re going to have a great year. I can already tell.