Why Most New Year’s Resolutions Fade by Early February
By Martha Woodward & John M Disque (2/9/2019)
The idea of making New Year’s resolutions can be traced all the way back to the founding of this country from Ben Franklin’s Poor Richard’s Almanac.
Franklin was the first to pen, “No gains without pains.” He also wrote, (2) “Do not go to the dish for every hunger.” (3) “Diligence overcomes difficulties.” (4) Vice will make a face ugly.” And (5) “Who is strong? Those who can conquer bad habits.”
Clearly, men and women have had the desire to do better all through the centuries. According to a poll at the web site YouGov, “The most common aspirations for the coming year in the USA are to eat healthier, lose weight, exercise more, and to save money.” This falls in line with findings from the Business Insider Magazine from 2017, that tell us “80% of all resolutions fail by early February.”
Why are so many resolving to lose weight? The answers are sad and alarming. The trend for weight gain goes back to 1979 and coincides with the Food Pyramid being hoisted upon the American public when we were told to eat 9 to 11 servings of grains each day along with 5 to 9 servings of vegetables, and to cut consumption of fatty foods and protein. When fat and protein were removed from most foods, companies knew folks would eat less since most of the flavor is in the fat. Sugar was added to just about everything they sold. More sugar consumption has correlated to weight gain and the increase in cases of type 2 diabetes and heart disease .
In 1960, the average weight of an American man was 166 pounds. Average height increased by a single inch for men, from about 5 feet 8 inches to about 5 feet 9 inches. Fast forward to 2016 and average height stayed the same (or maybe even dropped a fraction of an inch), while weights jumped up to 197.9 pounds.
The numbers weren't much better for women, for whom weights on average rose from 140 in 1960 to 163.8 pounds in 2000, and on to 170.6 pounds two years ago.
Other stats: Body Mass Index (BMI) rose from 27.8 to 29.1 for men since 2000, and from 28.2 to 29.6 for women. A normal or healthy BMI is supposed to be between 18.5 and 24.9. Waist circumferences offer more bad news. The average American man's waist expanded from 39 inches to 40.2 inches over the past 14 years. For women the average jumped from 36.3 inches to 38.6 inches. Clearly, Americans are getting fatter and sicker.
The Psychology of Food
Using food, especially unhealthy food, to relieve emotional pain, is often a result of how we are raised.
When we cried as young children, and before we had any other source of communication, our parents assumed we were hungry and fed us.
Most-often we were crying because we were feeling neglected and asking for the reassurance of being loved and not alone.
The problem is in the association… The parent comes to us and feeds us - showing us we are loved and not alone. Food equates to love and takes away the emotional pain. It’s the solution to the problem and the association is made for life. As we age and we feel unfulfilled; neglected, unloved and alone - we eat. It (food) becomes the medication and cure-all for the never-ending bombardment of stress and depression.
The goal is to get to the root of the problem and replace the association.
Research shows and proves that most people fail to resolve destructive habits and activities because they neglect to substitute the issue with one that's positive and productive.
What was once a common activity and a big part of the person's life is now gone, leaving the person with an empty void: a feeling of being lost and alone - much like the loss of a loved one or the neglect of a parent. The fix for that depressive state of mind is only a box of Oreo's away - making failure too easy and victory too difficult. The effort to ignore the problem away is vertually impossible.
Another big failing point is in substituting the activity with one that’s just as destructive. The emptiness is often filled with all the wrong escapes, which gives the struggling person a built in excuse to fail and return to original problem.
In the example of weight-loss - exercise is the perfect substitute. Because losing weight is most often a health concern, exercise goes hand in hand with gaining better health. A three mile walk or an hour at the gym replaces the McDonald's value meal. Instead of leaving the person in solitude and discomfort, the void is successfully replaced with a feeling of victory and immediate reward. The result is: a new addiction - one that will continue to improve your health, your appearance, your energy level, your life-span and especially your incentive to continue.
Published February 9, 2019
Journalists: Martha Woodward and John M Disque