Resolution Roundup
1/1/2020 1:00:00 PM

Resolution Roundup


Each year, millions of people make New Year’s resolutions, hoping to ignite positive change in their life. Recurring themes include a more active approach to health and fitness, improved finances, and learning new things for personal and professional development. Chances are, a resolution or two here in our January 2020 cover section will sound familiar to you. Read on and find tips to ensure success for all your self-improvement strategies.


How to Set Realistic Resolutions You Won’t Break


Once the glow of a fresh new year wears off, many people struggle to make good on their New Year’s resolutions. According to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology, only 46% of people who made New Year’s resolutions were successful. 


The study also involved people who did not make a New Year’s resolution but had a goal they wanted to achieve that year. Only 4% of non-resolvers were successful at achieving their goals!

In hopes of helping you achieve your 2020 goals we’ve put together a plan for following through on your resolutions.


1. Mentally prepare for change.

Changing ingrained habits isn’t easy. Before diving head-first into your New Year’s resolution, it’s important to take a step back and prepare for the transition.

The first step is to take a personal inventory. Consider last year’s accomplishments. Ask yourself: 

What did I set out to do in the past year? Where did I make progress? Where didn’t I see progress?

Your resolution may focus on areas that lack progress, but remember to savor the progress made, and find some small way to celebrate. 

Remain upbeat about your new resolution so you can use that positive association with last year’s accomplishments to remind you of those good feelings when you are feeling challenged. Make small changes gradually and allow some room for error.


2. Set a goal that motivates you.

You would be surprised how often people set goals that are not for themselves. These goals could be dictated or coerced by a manager, spouse, or parental / peer pressure. While it’s nice to have external support, if you don’t share the same passion, the resolution has a small chance of succeeding.


Make sure your goal is important to you and that there is value or benefit for you in achieving the goal. These two things provide the reason and willingness to take action, aka motivation! Align your resolutions with your top priorities.


3. Limit resolutions to a  manageable number

A common mistake is setting too many resolutions. We only have so much attention span to dedicate to self-improvement. Make a short list of priority resolutions you can manage in the upcoming year. It’s better to tackle one resolution well than multiple resolutions poorly.


4. Be specifIc.

Set SMART goals using this acronym. 


Specific - Articulate the resolution as clearly as possible. For example, quit smoking is better than be healthy. 

Measurable - Quantify your resolution if possible, i.e. I will lose 10% of my body weight.

Attainable - Choose a goal within the realm of possibility, yet challenging. Make 100 friends this year might be amazing, but not likely. Conversely, make 10 new friends is doable.

Relevant - Keep your resolution relevant to your priorities and goals. How will this goal impact my life?

Time-sensitive - Give yourself a timeframe in which to achieve a goal. A deadline will instill some urgency and provide a time when you can celebrate your success.


5. Break up big goals into smaller goals.

A lot of us tend to be overeager and grandiose when it comes to resolutions. We have the best of intentions and may accidentally take on a goal that is too big to achieve. Thus, it’s helpful to divide a big goal into smaller goals that are more achievable. Break up your year-long resolution into weekly or monthly goals, and have tasks planned for each month. By breaking your plan into discrete steps, you have a better chance of success.


6. Share your resolutions with others.

It’s great to make a resolution for yourself and write it down, but if no one else knows about it, it becomes easy to ignore. Success requires accountability, which lends a sense of obligation, which is often more powerful than self-motivation. And when you do succeed, the people you shared with will celebrate with you! 


7. Write down your goals.

While it’s great to have goals, it is critical to document them in some way. If you don’t write them down, they’re easy to forget. Documenting a goal establishes intention, which encourages action. Written goals are also a reminder of how far you have come and what you have achieved. So write your resolutions in a journal, email yourself a list, or stick a Post-It note on the wall!


8. Automate where possible

The technology you carry in your pocket or purse can help you succeed. While you still need to do the work, reminder apps can help you follow through. Consider these free scheduling, to-do-list, and task management tools:

Google Calendar

Google Now

Reminders (on iOS)

Boomerang for Gmail

Asana

Trello

Todoist

Microsoft To Do

Omnifocus

Things


9. Review your resolution regularly.

Check in on the progress of your goals often. Evaluate primary goals weekly and set daily reminders for smaller resolutions tasks. These incremental steps will lead to significant changes over the course of a single year.


10. If you fall off track, get back on quickly.

Change is difficult and it will take time for your resolution to become a reality. Allow yourself room for mistakes and setbacks. Remember, a moment of weakness doesn’t imply failure and is meaningless in the grand scheme of things. The key is to avoid a defeatist attitude at all costs. If there is a setback, understand what led to that moment, and how you can avoid a similar situation in the future. A few small mistakes shouldn’t spoil your resolution for the year!


Lose Weight

by Angie Kay Dilmore


According to healthdata.org, 160 million Americans are either overweight or obese. Nearly 75% of our nation’s men and 60% of its women are lumped into that figure. So, it’s no surprise that Lose Weight is number one on the list of most popular New Year’s resolutions. Indeed, it is a worthwhile endeavor for many reasons, primarily health and wellness. Like most resolutions, the key is sticking with it and making it a lifelong reality. How do you make that happen?


A study published in the research journal Obesity suggests you strive for consistency. When it comes to weight loss, there is no quick fix and it is not a temporary solution. It is a lifestyle change. An unwavering schedule of eating healthy and exercising can help you manage your weight long term.

In the study, 183 overweight and obese adults participated in a weight-loss program in which they received counseling on diet and exercise over the course of a year. Researchers tracked their weight and offered assessment meetings at six and 12 months, and again a year after the weight-loss program ended. Results showed that those whose weight vacillated the most during the first few weeks were less likely to keep the pounds off for a long period of time, as opposed to those who dropped weight each week.


Sound intimidating? No worries. Developing consistent habits in your lifestyle is a process, but it can quickly build momentum. Once you begin to see results, you’ll be encouraged and want to keep going. It requires a high level of commitment, but you don’t need to completely overhaul your diet to see results. You can shed pounds effectively by making a few low-effort, high-impact changes:


Prioritize protein, especially at breakfast. 

Instead of doughnuts or sugary cereal, eat a high protein breakfast to keep you full and energized until lunchtime. Incorporate eggs, nuts, or Greek yogurt into your morning routine.

Be mindful of when you eat. 

Breakfast should be eaten within a few hours of waking and avoid late night snacking.


Increase fiber intake. 

Add more beans, nuts, whole grains, vegetables and fruits to your diet. Fiber keeps you full longer so you’re less likely to overeat.


Use a smaller plate and reorganize your portions. 

Half your meal should consist of fruits and veggies; one quarter starch, ie whole grain bread, pasta, rice, or potato; and the final quarter should be a healthy protein, ie lean meats, beans, or eggs.


Drink more water. 

Our bodies often confuse hunger and thirst. If you feel hungry, try drinking a glass of water first. Quenching your thirst can help you avoid overeating. In one study, overweight people who drank two glasses of water before their meals every day for three months lost an average of 2.6 more pounds than people who didn’t hydrate prior to eating.


Be more active. 

Incorporate more movement into your daily routine. Walk, run, bike ride, go to the gym, take exercise classes, practice yoga, participate in group sports, play outside with the kids. There is no end to the ways you can burn more calories by moving your body.



Exercise More

by Angie Kay Dilmore


If the number one New Year’s resolution is to lose weight, number two goes hand in hand – to exercise more. But weight loss is not the only reason to exercise. Even slender people need to move their muscles and get their heart pumping to be fit and healthy.


Yet despite the best of intentions, as we go through our busy days, checking off our to-do lists, exercise is often the first to be neglected. As any gym member knows, the cardio and weight rooms and exercise classes are packed to capacity during January and into February, but by March, motivation wanes and attendance drops. Cheyanna Glyenn, manager of CHRISTUS Louisiana Athletic Club, witnesses this phenomenon each year. She says the excuses are legion – too busy, no concrete plan or quantifiable goals, cost, gym intimidation, or general lack of motivation. Yet there are ways to overcome these excuses.


A key to regular exercise is routine. 

Exercising the same time each day makes it more likely to happen. "Once exercise becomes part of a person’s routine, it becomes part of their lifestyle,” Glyenn says. "Recent studies show that it takes about 66 days for something to become a habit.”


Avoid comparing yourself to others. 

This is your journey and you’re in it for the long haul! 


Exercise should be enjoyable to be sustainable. 

Identify an activity that feels more like fun than work to you. If walking on a treadmill every day is drudgery for you, you won’t stick with it. Maybe you prefer shooting hoops, bike riding, swimming, tennis, yoga . . . the list of options is endless. Find activities you love and do them regularly.


Find an exercise partner. 

Or hire a personal trainer. Accountability is a huge motivation booster. On those days when you just don’t feel like moving, knowing someone is counting on you to be there will get you going.


Realize that something is always better than nothing. 

If your goal is to walk 30 minutes each day, but sometimes, you simply aren’t up to walking for half an hour, rather than skip your workout, commit to walking for just five or ten minutes. Chances are, once you get started, you’re likely to keep going.


Don’t give up. 

If you lapse on your exercise plan, reboot and restart. "Life happens and things come up to throw us off track,” Glyenn says. But don’t be defeated. Evaluate what went wrong and re-commit to your healthy goals.


Glyenn says being healthy requires physical and mental work, focus, and dedication. Prioritize exercise as a choice, not a chore. And make if non-negotiable! "Be selfish whenever it comes to your health because at the end of the day, YOU are responsible for you!”


CHRISTUS Louisiana Athletic Club is located at 4429 Nelson Rd., Lake Charles. For more information, call 337-474-6601.



Be more organized.

by Stefanie Powers


If organizing your home or office is one of your New Year’s resolutions and you don’t know where to begin, help is on the way.


Taylor Stokes Thibodeaux recently started an organizing business in Lake Charles called In Its Place, hoping to share her passion with those who may find this task overwhelming.


"If you don’t know where to begin when it comes to getting your house or workplace in order, my goal is to take care of that for you,” she says.  "For me, there’s no better feeling than going into a house or business and seeing the transformation right before my eyes as the clutter is put in its place.”


Nothing makes Thibodeaux happier than to have all the "things” in her life organized and functional.

"I’ve had the privilege of helping families get kick-started in making their home feel less cluttered by organizing and putting systems into place for areas like pantries, craft rooms, laundry rooms, closets, bathrooms, offices, and storage rooms,” she continues. "There’s no area too big or too small that can’t benefit from being organized and made functional for daily life.”


Thibodeaux says the first step is to choose small areas in the house to begin with, instead of looking at an entire room, which can sometimes feel daunting. 


"Start by cleaning out the designated area,” she advises. "Decide what items will stay, or be discarded, donated, or sold. Don’t waste valuable time trying to organize things that you don’t intend to keep in the first place.”


Once you’re left with the items that are here to stay, the next step is to categorize them into piles. "Every area of the house benefits from different ‘systems,’ so this part varies depending on the needs of that space,” Thibodeaux says. "Sometimes, you might need bins or baskets, or maybe shelves or drawers, which all help keep those categories you have created organized.” 


But, she cautions that organization is more than just buying a lot of bins. "You really need to analyze the area and figure out the purpose of that space, and why it got that way in the first place.” 


Thibodeaux’s biggest piece of advice in keeping things organized is to label. "If you can find a way to label the specific categories that you have created by name, you will be more likely to put the item back into the labeled bin instead of putting it elsewhere,” she explains. "For example, you’ll be less likely to put the new box of Wheat Thins in the pasta bin or just throw it in the cabinet if you have a bin labeled ‘Crackers.’” 


In a perfect world, whatever system you put into place would stay that way forever. "Unfortunately, systems do require maintenance. Every so often, you need to go through those organized bins and baskets, drawers or shelves, and make sure it doesn’t need another thorough clean out,” Thibodeaux advises.  


Check out In Its Place Organizing on Facebook and Instagram, or email Thibodeaux at initsplaceorganizing337@gmail.com.



Learn Something New

by Kristian Bland


New Year’s resolutions can be hard to keep. After all, basing major life decisions around an arbitrary date on the calendar is probably not the strongest motivator for success.


Instead of trying some new fad diet and hating yourself when it doesn’t work, it might be worth trying something different this year, like learning something new. 


Want to learn a new language? Just download an app like Duolingo. If you have kids taking a second language in school, consider learning it along with them. Not only will you be able to help with their homework, but you’ll also be helping yourself.


Have you ever wanted to cook like Gordon Ramsay? No problem. Just enroll in his course on Masterclass.com and he’ll teach you everything you’ve ever wanted to know about how to properly butter scones and other tricks professional chefs do. Masterclass specializes in offering courses taught by luminaries in their fields, including Neil Gaiman (Storytelling), Annie Leibovitz (Photography), Shonda Rhimes (Television), Natalie Portman (Acting), Martin Scorsese (Filmmaking), Christina Aguilera (Singing), and many more.


Skillshare.com is another popular online resource offering courses taught by industry experts eager to share their knowledge in everything from learning to code to writing that novel you’ve always meant to get around to when you have the time. Now’s the time!


If you’d rather stay closer to home, check out the Leisure Learning Center at McNeese State University. Offering courses ranging from Excel and Quickbooks to ACT Reviews and Blacksmithing, there’s something for everyone.


May Gray, Leisure Learning Coordinator at McNeese, says, "Lifelong learning offers an opportunity to keep our brains active, learn interesting things, meet new people, and visit new places all while having an enjoyable time.”


In addition to offering courses year-round for adults, summer courses are offered for kids and teens. The SAGE (Senior Adult Group Education) Series of programs during the spring and fall hosts authors and other knowledgeable speakers.


It’s never too late to learn a new talent, master a new skill, or simply satisfy a specific curiosity for something you’ve always wanted to know more about. You can learn at your own pace. There are no tests to worry about studying for. And there’s no homework beyond how much time and effort you’re willing to devote to your pursuit.


Not into apps or group classes? Maybe you know someone who has a talent they’re willing to share if you’re willing to learn. Ask your aunt to teach you that secret family recipe only she knows. See if your crafty friend will show you how to knit or crochet. Join a book club, find a community online, and visit the library as often as you can. These things won’t cost you a dime, and some of life’s best teachers are the people you’ve never thought to ask.


Open the door to a lifetime of learning today and start the new year off by learning something. You’ll be glad you did.



Save More Spend Less

by Kristy Como Armand


Many New Year’s resolutions seem to revolve around getting healthy. You may be planning to eat better, sleep more, or spend a few extra days at the gym each week. But why stop at your physical fitness? The beginning of a new year is the perfect time to focus on your financial fitness too. Kala Kuhlthau, Lakeside Bank’s Sulphur manager, offers some guidelines for making – and keeping – your financial resolutions. 


Have a plan.

"This is the first step to saving more,” says Kuhlthau. "If your resolution is just "save more” but you don’t have some concrete steps put in place to accomplish this, it will likely be hard to make any progress, and you won’t have a way to measure your progress.” She says when building your plan, ensure the plan is achievable. 


Make a budget. 

If you have a budget in place, review it for areas you need to pay more attention to, or to find where you can cut back to save more. If you don’t have a budget, make it a priority this year. "It’s challenging to prioritize saving without a working budget,” says Kuhlthau. Start by tracking your monthly spending by category. You should be able to get a feel for the average amount you spend on food, bills, and other various expenses each month. This will allow you to identify how much you can feasibly save monthly, or help you identify areas where you might cut back. 

Kuhlthau says one way to calculate how much you usually spend each month is by looking over your spending for the past year or two. "It’s easy for us to fall into our regular routines without realizing how much we’re spending or where. 


You might be surprised to discover how much you spend on restaurants, entertainment, and other miscellaneous items each month. While it’s important to include these things in your life—you need to have fun, after all—these are areas that can easily be budgeted and scaled back.”


Get serious about saving. 

Assess your priorities and establish goals. "What do you want your life to look like this time next year? Are there specific luxury items you want, like a new car? Do you want to buy a house soon? Ask yourself these questions so you can adequately plan to save,” Kuhlthau says. "These big-ticket items require planning. And you can’t do that if you don’t know where you’ve been or where you’re going.”


Check your credit. 

When was the last time you checked your credit? According to Kuhlthau, you should check your credit at least once a year. You want to make sure there aren’t any items to dispute and you want to have a clear-cut understanding of where you stand. "Knowing your credit score gives you an idea of your relative financial standing as well as the perfect method to create goals. Let’s say you have a credit score of 600, but your goal is to raise it to 700. That’s a tangible goal that you can work toward that will also help you save money on interest rates.”


Do a check-up. 

Your budget overview should include things like insurance. Are you paying too much for car insurance? Is your health insurance affordable, yet adequate? "These are areas that people tend to overlook when they’re reassessing their financial situation,” Kuhlthau says. 


For more information about savings options, stop by any location of Lakeside Bank or visit 

www.mylksb.bank.



Decrease Stress Symptoms & How To Tackle Them


Stress is something that everyone experiences from time to time. Whether it be once or twice a week or every day, it’s a part of our lives in some capacity. With the new year underway, many of us have made a resolution to combat stress. 


According to Dr. Andrew Bradberry, Family Medicine Physician with Imperial Health, stress manifests itself in a multitude of ways. This of course depends on the person and the level of harm the situation presents. Whether this threat of harm is real or perceived, stress is the body’s innate response to the situation at hand. Some possible indicators of stress include chest pain, dizziness, weight gain, heart palpitations, and skin issues. 

The good news is that there are ways to keep these symptoms at bay. 


DON’T RESORT TO STRESS EATING
"I’m a firm believer that you are what you eat,” says Dr. Bradberry, "and watching what you take in can make a difference in the way your stress shows up.” With one quarter of the American population rating their stress level as an 8/10, the link between weight gain and stress can cause concern. The main culprit is the notion that stress causes us to overeat. So, if you’re part of the large percentage of people who have chosen weight loss as a resolution for 2020, stop stressing. Easier said than done, right? Stress causes overeating, and overeating causes stress. It’s an evil cycle, but it’s one you can work at controlling. Fuel your body with healthy foods so you can function better on a biological level while simultaneously battling the body’s response to stress. 


DON’T SLACK ON SLEEP 
Like overeating, lack of sleep can become a vicious cycle when it comes to stress. If you’re stressed, your anxiety may keep you awake, and if you’re sleepy during the day, it may cause your anxiety levels to rise. Sleep deprivation can cause memory loss, lack of concentration, and weight gain, just to name a few. 


"When trudging through the workday or helping your kids with their homework after a night of interrupted sleep, your stress levels will naturally rise more quickly,” says Dr. Bradberry. Small changes in your everyday habits can help you get a better night’s sleep, thus allowing you to get through the day with less stress. Watch your caffeine intake after noon, go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, avoid heavy meals close to bedtime, and be sure to get in regular exercise.  


GET TO THE GYM
One of the best ways to relieve stress is to get some sort of physical activity. The natural endorphins released during physical activity gives you a quick fix to tension-related stress. Even just five minutes of aerobic exercise can stimulate anti-anxiety effects. Physical activity can also improve the quality of your sleep, giving you even more ability to fight those stress symptoms. Dr. Bradberry – a physician, a father, and a husband – makes exercising a priority. "No matter how busy you are, getting in some physical activity each week will give you noticeable results in your stress levels.”


If you find that your symptoms persist even after making these small changes, visit your doctor, says Dr. Bradberry. "When stress symptoms linger for more than a few days, it’s important to get checked out by your primary care physician. Symptoms can sometimes present as being stress-related, but that may not always be the case.” 


Tackling stress can be as simple as making small, everyday changes, and you can head into this new year with a more positive, productive outlook. 


Find Dr. Bradberry at 771 Bayou Pines East, Lake Charles, 337-433-1212.



Quit Smoking It’s  Never Too  Late to Try

by Madelaine Brauner Landry



Kicking the smoking habit is a great resolution, often made at midnight on New Year’s Eve. But what about the other eleven months of the year? According to several studies cited on the University of Chicago’s medical website, a year later, this resolution averages a mere 4% success rate. 


No one can disagree that smoking cessation is the best gift to give oneself or one’s loved ones; that it’s a life-saving resolution; and that motivation is key. Yet despite those truths, smokers struggle mightily to quit. The psychological cues of ingrained habitual routines, other smokers, ashtrays, and cigarette butts littering the ground often undermine altruism, motivation, and better health.


Still, making the Quit Smoking Resolution one more time is beneficial. What have you got to lose? The 7,000+ toxic chemicals in cigarette smoke? Not becoming another lung cancer statistic? The World Health Organization notes that tobacco holds the dubious distinction of killing more Americans than alcohol, car accidents, HIV, guns, and illegal drugs combined. If you must have one more cigarette, experts say ask for it only if it’s your last request in front of a firing squad. 


According to Dr. Steve Springer at the Smoking Treatment Center in Lake Charles, many good smoking cessation methods are available, backed by evidence that they work. However, he cautions, seeking professional help increases the odds a smoker will be more successful. It is a tough process without support. 


"It’s not failing to admit you need help,” notes Springer. "You’re dealing with a very addictive substance in nicotine. Withdrawal can be severe. Each smoker’s brain is different; just how severe depends on the smoker.”


Resolutions, we are told, fail if they are not achievable, measurable, or specific. Furthermore, many people commit to New Year’s Resolutions while under the influence. If you resolve to quit smoking while drinking your cocktail-of-choice when New Zealand rings in the new year, that resolution may not hold until the ball drops in Time Square eighteen hours later. Experts advise:  Expect to start over many times. Commit to staying the course, as many attempts as it takes. 


Other recommendations come with much less dire warnings than those on a cigarette package: 


There will be lapses. Expect them, but don’t dwell on them."Achievable, measurable and specific” are not throwaway words. Start with a reduction, rather than complete cessation. Your ultimate goal is to be smoke-free, but your objective can be smoking fewer packs-per-day. Ask for and accept advance support and understanding from everyone!


The Smoking Treatment Center is located at 501 Dr. Michael DeBakey Dr., Lake Charles. For more information, call them at 337-312-8690.

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