The new year is here, and it’s time for a brand new arthritis resolution!
WOOOO! I’m drunk on positive, but this dizzying elation will no doubt soon fade.
Fear not, my arthritis resolution cheat sheet is here to provide some easy solutions.
Please feel free to take what you want and throw the rest away, but don’t let me catch you coming back to this list next new year. 😉
Of course I’m joking, because change is not a switch you throw in one moment, it is a life long process that takes time and patience to develop.
The only thing that matters is that we make measurable progress in reasonable time.
Here are my thoughts on some arthritis living changes we can all make, and how to make them stick for good.
Define your goals goals.
What are your goals outside of your natural thirst for more life?
It might surprise you to find out that 99% of people don’t even know what they want from life.
You are not alone, so please don’t feel bad about this lack of direction.
The following plan could help change this listlessness into a fully mapped out life destination that gives you life.
First you must ask yourself the question…What do I want?
Ponder that question for a moment and write down any thoughts that come to you, don’t forget to define your big dreams here too.
Dreaming big and having worthy goals never hurt anyone. In fact dreaming big helps us stretch themselves outside of our comfort zone.
The importance of having big goals and dreams wasn’t lost on the most successful people the world has ever known. However, know that you must match the size of these dreams with the appropriate energy and dedication.
Thinking about this type of goal setting has reminded me of a poem I heard when I first started my sickness journey. It set my mind on fire, and I hope reading it gives you the same levels of motivation and purpose.
I bargained with Life for a penny,
And Life would pay no more,
However I begged at evening
When I counted my scanty store;
For Life is a just employer,
He gives you what you ask,
But once you have set the wages,
Why, you must bear the task.
I worked for a menial’s hire,
Only to learn, dismayed,
That any wage I had asked of Life,
Life would have willingly paid!
Now we have an idea of what’s required on the application end of this deal let’s look at some possibilities you could include in your arthritis resolution plan.
Some good arthritis resolution changes
There are literally thousands of great arthritis resolutions you could make, but here are some of my favourites to help fire your imagination.
Starting an exercise plan
Improving the way you eat
Getting better educated about the problems you face
Starting a food diary
Getting serious about supplements
Eliminating processed sugar and gluten
Mindfully taking responsibility for your health and every decision you make
Getting back to work
Start juicing/ smoothie making
Quieting your mind with meditation
Quitting moaning/ complaining/ swearing/ blaming/ hating, and excusing
All of the above changes will positively affect your disease and general health to such a level that they should become lifelong habits.
Some of the changes will bring obvious benefits like dieting and supplementation, but you’ll also receive other more profound benefits which improve the way you look, feel, express your genetics, and show up in life to other people.
Put simply, these simple changes will improve your whole life, for the duration of your life, and may even extend it long into the future.
Where do we start with our arthritis resolution plan?
Make a plan!
This could be in the form of an online digital plan or more traditional paper journal. I would strongly urge you to start either, but a paper journal has a much more personal feel and is the one I choose.
Writing everything down in a journal allows you to see where you have been, as well as where you are going. That is valuable when measuring success.
You could also download some free software like the xmind mind map tool.
Xmind is an awesome free mind mapping software that has many tools to help you get your thoughts out of your head and into solid form.
If that’s not your thing then there are plenty of simple charts available online that you can print out and stick on your fridge door. These are an ideal way to nag yourself into resistance when you’re reaching inside for the cheese.
Define your goals
Now we have our list format sorted we can start to define our aims.
According to Michael Church, B.S., CPT, CHC, of T3 Wellness Solutions “A well-designed goal is compelling and motivates you by pulling you to it”.
Let’s face it, we all prefer to be pulled rather than pushed! Getting the “bug” of life change is key here.
Michael’s SMART goal system might help you to get clear on the finer points of your plan and help you stay focused.
S. Specific. The goal must specifically state what is to be accomplished and leave no room for interpretation. For example, “I want to lose 10 pounds.”
M. Measurable. The goal must be measurable so that there is a clear understanding of whether or not you have achieved it. This can be done objectively, subjectively, or both. For example, you can track your body weight using a scale, but also note how your pants fit.
A. Attainable. The goal must not be too easy or too difficult. If the goal is too easy, then the importance is diminished and motivation is lost. If the goal is too difficult feelings of frustration can creep in and lead to failure.
R. Relevant. The goal must be important to you and be based around your interests, needs and abilities. It should be something that you want or need to achieve and something that you have the time and resources to work toward.
T. Time-bound. The goal should be bound by specific deadlines. These should be both short-term and long-term deadlines to help you stay focused and on track.
Starting out within these very tight parameters on things like exercise goals should give you a workable template to start with. However, we should constantly be surpassing our goals and setting new ones. Do not rest when it comes to self improvement.
Get clear on your goals
Get really clear on what you want to achieve and go for it! Generalised goals never work well. The university of Liverpool has even linked sloppy goal creation to people who suffer from depression.
When we talk about goal setting we are not talking about running marathons right now. Start small, but go after your small goals with the same amount of effort you would expend running a marathon. Define your goals and crystalize them in your mind with repetition of thought and a stubbornness of will. Enjoy the challenge of meeting them head on and crossing them off your list.
Overcoming some of these challenges will be counted among your greatest achievements one day.
Decide on time frames and measurements
Measuring our successes helps to keep us motivated and progressing toward our goals, measurements also tell us if we’re making any progress at all.
One of the most worthy traditional resolutions has to be weight loss.
Anyone with arthritis should be particularly drawn to this goal.
Losing just one pound of weight relieves the knee joint of four pounds of pressure!
Think about that the next time you’re trying to pull yourself out of the bath. Shedding Those ten pounds you gained last year would save 40 pounds of pressure on your highly stressed joints and knee cartilage.
There are other strange weight loss facts we should be aware of too. The Journal of Obesity studied the effect of people weighing themselves daily during weight loss versus people weighing themselves less often.
The surprising results demonstrated that daily self-weighing produced a clinically significant benefit to weight loss.
The moral of this story is weigh every day!
We need to mindful of this kind of thing when setting out our plan. Make sure you leave enough space to record the values every day and weigh yourself in the morning whilst brushing your teeth!
You might also want to make a separate chart to stick on the wall above the scales, just don’t forget to attach a pen to the chart so you don’t forget to fill that thing out.
Another time saving arthritis resolution
Brushing our teeth takes time and is pretty much a one job at a time deal. However, There is another arthritis resolution activity you can shoehorn in here to help you hit your fitness goals.
Doing squats whilst brushing your teeth is a great way to kill two birds with one stone, and takes almost no effort!
These easy to do exercises strengthen your legs and pumps the blood and essential nutrients to the knee joint. What could be easier?
I would say not doing these exercises would be easier, but we all know that wouldn’t be the case in the long term.
Online apps and trackers
If you have a more sporty goal, there are lots of awesome apps that integrate with your mobile phone.
Strava is my favourite app for cycling and running. It records just about everything and gives you actual timings and distances covered by local runners/cyclists. Here’s where you get to express you’re competitive side, if you wish.
You could go high tech and include heart rate monitors, digital scales, apps, and more targeted web based applications like the ones on the medhelp.org page linked below.
Medhelp is one of the best tracking websites on the web. You can literally track anything health related. Weight, body cycles, food, any disease, allergies, cholesterol, exercise. You name it, they got it covered!
You can even keep your data updated on the move with their food and diet apps via your smart phone.
The diet tracker is linked below.
Visualize your success
Visualization is proven to work!
How do I know? Because I have tried it and implemented it myself with staggering results.
Back when things were bad all I wanted was to be able to walk. There was a small problem with this desire – I couldn’t get off of my bed never mind walk.
This didn’t stop me “getting out” and visualizing the route I would one day walk in my mind. I walked that path every night for months and ended up taking that walk every night for the next four years.
The route was familiar to me in real life. As I when I walked it in my mind I knew every bump in the road, every crack, every stone I was about to stand on, and of course the scenery and landmarks, I even passed peoples houses I knew and said hello to them.
My visualizations were made real when I not only walked that route, but ran it none stop on more occasions than I care to remember.
It took time to build up my effort and increase my levels of fitness. Visualizations didn’t magically allow me to jump to my goals in a day? They did fire my imagination and make it happen.
You may be immobile as you read this, but if you want it bad enough, you can set the goal to do your visualizations even before you get your feet on the pavement. All good habits need to be formed in the mind, and we can start that process no matter what our situation.
Set out your goals, make a plan, ponder on them, visualise yourself doing these things in your mind and will it!
As you make your resolutions, pause and visualize yourself succeeding. You should have goals that will stretch you, but if you can’t reach them in your imagination, you likely won’t be able to stay motivated enough when it comes to actually doing them.
Combine the power of your arthritis resolutions
Having a massive list of resolutions can be overwhelming. However, if you’re sick you should have quite a lot of goals to work through.
That is OK, because we can Combine some of our goals so they become one resolution, rather than many.
Diet, supplementation, and exercise, go together beautifully. Missing out on any one of these when in combination leaves you feeling like you let yourself down. That isn’t always a bad thing, because we can use our disappointment in positive ways when we feel ourselves slipping.
There is no point in dieting if you sit around all day? That won’t get the job done. Combining diet and exercise is an excellent self reinforcing plan to make.
What else could you do? How about walking or cycling to work. Maybe you’re not even in work, so could find a job where you could walk to work and become financially independent.
Doing all this new activity will mean you have to be organised, and willing to put up with some pain.
I mean, how can you start a healthy new diet if you don’t get your shopping list organised?
To break our rotten habits we often have to change the places we go to and use.
Food shopping is a great example of this.
Rather than going to the pizza parlour Could you order the foods you need online and have them come to your door every week?
Could you make that pizza with gluten free flour and build your cooking skills up so you no longer need to eat processed foods?
Ordering online is great! Let’s face it, if you’ve paid for your weekly healthy food shop “up front” there’s more chance you’re going to eat it, and less likelihood of you buying the foods you shouldn’t be eating anyway.
This strategy will also free some time where you could go to the gym instead of walking around the shops pining over that pizza you don’t need.
Form good resolution habits
Forming good habits is the basis of all life change. Usually this means working with that much hated beast, the alarm clock.
The simple fact is that many of us get too comfortable with being able to choose when we rise from our slumber and that’s not always a positive thing.
If we are going to win, we need structure and movement in our lives. These two things bring the greatest benefits to our lives, and it should be our aim to wake early and move often.
If we fail to do this simple thing we can forget about any great plans.
The morning hours can provide great peace, clarity, and synergy when combining our resolution goals. Getting up out of bed, taking your supplements, drinking healing smoothies, and doing some form of movement like rebounding is a great way to start the day.
Nail this part of the day and you’ll also be crossing off multiple resolution goals before you even think about them.
My own personal experience tells me that making our resolutions “must do habits” is vital to our long term future success. This is because your days will be longer, you’ll have more energy, and you’ll feel more positive about your new healthy ways.
Every person on earth would gain amazing benefits from setting the alarm clock an hour early and meditating before rising.
Meditation is one way to assure yourself of the Zen like qualities of the Tibetan monk.
Where the mind goes the body follows
Once the mind is quiet the body will follow.
The science shows the way we think and feel affects our genetic expression, it is irrefutable.
Altering the way we feel, and the levels of damaging stress chemicals our bodies gorge on when we’re in stress mode, is vital to achieving good health and longevity.
Only mindfulness and meditation can help us change these damaging mental states to more positive ones. The stress free states we enjoy in peaceful relaxation are our natural restorative states, they create a good internal environment and promote radiant health.
Why not take some time to lavish an hour’s meditation on your morning routine and allow the that healthy restorative state continue all day long.
Shout about your achievements and get your friends involved with your health successes.
Social media is a great place to bask in the reflected glory of each others achievements, so tell the world about how you’re doing.
You don’t have to run a marathon or climb a mountain. Measurable success and positive attitudes will have you bubbling, and your friends urging you on to greater success.
There is no better habit forming process than positive reinforcement and the pleasure chemicals created by our good experiences.
Our brains work on chemical signals, they can be addicted to the stress chemicals that make us sad, or the chemicals of joy that make us happy. It is down to you to choose which of these two states of being you want to become addicted to.
A scientific study from 2012 showed that posting our successes on social media was more motivating that actually winning a prize itself!
We all want to be loved and adored for our achievements so join a community and share your successes if you want to be happy, healthy and motivated.
Using exercise apps like Strava and map my ride increase engagement with local communities of like minded people and offer a social side too.
Cycling is my passion and Strava helped to give me an insight into the times able bodied cyclist were posting in my area.
If you’ve ever fancied yourself as a bit of a cyclist this app is ideal. It allows you to race the very best without directly taking them on “one on one”.
I love this app for the excitement and hours of pleasure it has given me. Maybe, I wanted to race these guys so I could reflect how badly broken I was, could still cut it?
In the end I just wanted by body back, the rest was pure vanity.
One thing I do know is that taking part in these activities is the most awesome fun. Strava’s free version gives you more features than you could possibly need, with power outputs, miles covered, challenges, hill gradients, and loads more cool stuff.
All of these goodies allow you to measure yourself to your greatest level, but beware it can be very addictive.
Find new friends
Involve your “off line” friends in online apps too!
In 2012, two studies showed the influence of friends and family members has positive effects our exercise habits. One study, published in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine, showed that a “virtual” exercise buddy could be as effective as a real participating friend. So if you have a close friend who who likes exercise, and doesn’t live nearby, you can still help each other to your goals via online apps.
Achieving your goals and dreams brings its own wonderful benefits, but winning at life is a journey and not some destination we reach.
Reward yourself along the way with gifts, treats, prizes, smiles, and results.
Obviously you don’t want to go treating yourself to the 18” pizza if your resolution is to lose weight, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have exciting rewards that keep you engaged.
What about those new running shoes, or that sexy new dress! It could be that holiday you always promised yourself, but couldn’t take because of your health. A visit to a health farm to be pampered, or new hair and nails.
Go on, you deserve it!
Life change isn’t easy, but it is worth it.
The benefits reach into every aspect of your life and can change you and your experience of living in ways you cannot begin to imagine.
The big problem is making the effort to start.
My own experiences of a bad New Year eve made me give up alcohol, and I haven’t touched a drop now for over nine years.
A New Year can be the start of great change, the catalyst that inspires you to “ not have another year like last year”, but how many people do you know who made a resolution last year and are still running with it?
I know for sure that all of the great people in life take this challenge and they continue to do so every waking moment of their lives.
It doesn’t have to be a New Year or a point of break down or disease? Every passing moment is an opportunity for us to do more, be more, and achieve great things.
Life change is a habit.
Ask yourself which behaviors you will habituate in 2017.
Look inside yourself for the motivation and inspiration to carry out your Arthritis resolution. The power is surely there within you, it has to be?
No one can do this for you, but you can do this for everyone else. 🙂 Be the source of your own great New Years revolution.
Please just try.