The holidays are the time we indulge and as we do it, we may plan to do better in the New Year.

            The holidays are the time we indulge and as we do it, we may plan to do better in the New Year.    Perhaps today would be the best time to start.  Why are New Year’s resolutions often unsuccessful?  We mean well; exercise and dieting are activities of the month of January.  Some may get through February but after two months, most have forgotten their resolutions.  Sixty seven percent of the people who join a gym don’t use it. 

            A cousin, who has had an ongoing serious weight challenge, has lost 80 pounds and it was just a matter of motivation.  The doctor wanted to put her on blood pressure medication and she was determined not to take it.  She went straight home, got honest with herself and weighed.  Then she changed the way she ate and started getting some exercise.  Most of us know what to eat—lots of fresh vegetables and fruit; real food.  Real food is not addictive like junk food that is concocted by scientists who research chemicals to purposely stimulate cravings.  My cousin no longer needs medication.

            Become conscious of what you are doing with your lifestyle.  Think about what is important to YOU, not your friend or your family.  If your health is important to you, make it a priority, regardless of what anyone else does.   Mindlessly following the crowd is no more beneficial for adults than it is for teens, who often get into trouble because of peer pressure.  Your health is possibly the most influential factor determining whether you are able to live fully, developing your potential, and enjoying life.  However, good health rarely happens without thought and a willingness to learn.  Poor lifestyle comes easy and it is fostered by our environment.

            If you want to eat healthfully, you must be awake, reading labels, avoiding the readily available fast and processed foods.  You have to look for good food.  You see unhealthy food before your eyes everywhere.   What can a person do?

            A minister once said something that stuck with me concerning resistance.  “Whatever holds your attention rules your life.”  What you resist persists.  Sugar rules many people’s lives and it is literally killing thousands of people as witnessed by the prevalence of one of the most debilitating and painful diseases, diabetes.  When you are resisting eating sugar, you are giving it your attention.  It is on your mind. 

            If you want to eliminate sugar from your life, why not try turning away from it—don’t give it your attention.  It is easier to quietly turn away than to fight cravings.  You can only think of one thing at a time.  Try thinking of something else.  Put your mind elsewhere.  Find a way to motivate yourself; you will feel better and you may not have to take any medicine at all.  Headaches can disappear (after the withdrawal period); you will have more energy.  You may find your arthritis pain decreasing because sugar causes inflammation.  You have nothing to lose.

            When you are urged by well-meaning friends or family to eat sweets, a simple “no thank you” should suffice.  Notice, people who are addicted to sugar are the most persistent in wanting to show you love by feeding it to you.  Just like any other addict, sugar addicts want others to accompany them in their compulsion.  You don’t have to do it. 

            It is easy to be lazy and neglect exercise.  I can rationalize away sleeping an extra hour instead of going to yoga.  My motivation is thoughts of the many people who are suffering from painful backs.  I experienced years of back pain about 35 years ago that lasted seven years until a young therapist explained the importance of keeping muscles strong.  He told me back pain is a muscle, not a bone issue. Muscles hold everything together and stretching is the best way to keep back muscles strong.   He gave me exercises which I did faithfully (and still do) which eliminated my back pain in less than three weeks.  I think of the people in nursing homes who are suffering there because of a deterioration of the spine.  I drag myself out of bed and fairly fly to yoga.  In fact, I got stopped by a policeman one morning for doing just that.  

            Make this New Year one in which you put your health first.  Young people often say they are so busy with kids they don’t have time to exercise.  What better can you do for your children than to show them that adults make their health a priority?  A healthy parent will mean more to them than any ball game, or activity.  Teach them what to value. 

            Give your attention to what is important this New Year.  Most stuff doesn’t count for much but your health does.  Post on your refrigerator for the New Year:  “The pain of self discipline is less than the pain of regret.”

(Janice Norris lives in Heber Springs, has a B.S. in home economics from Murray State University, owned and operated health food stores in Illinois and Heber Springs, and wrote a weekly column in Illinois for 15 years. She can be reached at