Keeping Your New Year’s Resolution REAL

If you’ve kept your New Year’s resolution so far, congrats – because a third of people have already broken their resolution by the end of January. Whether 2013 is the year you’ve set out to lose weight, save money, or ditch bad habits, the experts at the Mazzoni Center advise how you can keep your New Year’s resolutions real.

Q:  I’ve always been proud of my body, but over the holidays I indulged a bit too much, and now I find myself heavier than I’d like to be. I used to be a regular at the gym, but lately, I’ve been feeling too self-conscious about my less-than-fit figure to go to the gym. Any suggestions on how to get back on track?

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A:  It’s quite natural for many of us to overdo it a bit during the holiday season. Treating yourself well and enjoying all those delicious traditions are important things to do. But we understand it can be distressing when you’re unhappy with your body. It’s also important to consider the impact added weight has on your physical health and self-esteem.

First, consider what your goals are. If you’re fairly active in your daily life, and follow a healthy diet, the extra pounds may very well start to disappear on their own. But, if you’re like most of us, as our bodies and metabolisms change over time, losing those few extra pounds becomes more of a challenge.

If you’re not ready to get back to the gym, you might consider some alternatives – take a walk through the neighborhood, a jog through the park, choose the stairs instead of the elevator, or maybe check out some exercise DVDs.  (And if you’re not sure which ones to try, you can find a lot of free ‘previews’ on YouTube).  You may find yourself drawn to something vigorous like kick-boxing, or maybe yoga is more your speed. Think about inviting a friend or your girlfriend to join you for a weekly workout, as it’s been proven that people who work out in pairs are far more likely to stick to it. Whatever you decide, keep it fun, and vary your routines. You’ll be feeling yourself again soon – maybe even better than before!

Q:  Now that my January credit card statements are rolling in, I am beginning to panic. It seems like I always fall into this trap of overextending myself at the holidays. This time it is seriously stressing me out!  Any advice? 

A: Great question! We are definitely of the mindset that your financial wellness has a direct correlation with your overall health and well-being – so we’re glad you brought this up. First of all, you should know that you are definitely not alone. According to the American Psychological Foundation, money worries are a significant cause of stress for 74 percent of Americans. It’s especially prevalent this time of year.  We tend to overindulge in ALL kinds of ways at the holidays, whether with food, drink, or spending.  Some people may believe gifts are the only way to show love and appreciation, while others indulge in shopping to fill a void in their emotional or spiritual lives.  But even when it comes from a good intention of being “generous” to friends and loved ones, it’s never a good idea to spend more than you can afford.  As we’ve seen in our clients, financial stress can cause physical symptoms: changes in eating patterns, high blood pressure, headaches and other physical symptoms, lack of sleep/constant fatigue, excessive irritability, increased risk of depression, anxiety, even compulsive behaviors such as gambling and overeating, and substance abuse.

It’s important not to let yourself get overwhelmed by feelings of anxiety.  As a first step, try mapping out a ‘New Year’s’ budget strategy that involves the areas you can control, such as: changing your cell phone plan, bringing lunch to work, calling up a credit card to ask if they’ll consider reducing your APR, checking out a book on personal finance from the library. Doing this kind of thing increases your financial confidence and can help you develop new skills. Also, make a point to explore and engage in activities that bring you joy and do not have a price tag: exercise, hobbies, listening to music, spending time with friends and family. Another tip: write down worries and concerns before you go to bed so they don’t interfere with your sleep!

Q:  Recently, I’ve found myself drinking somewhat more than usual. It didn’t worry me too much, until my partner brought it up, and a few friends not-so-subtly suggested I “slow down.”  On New Year’s Eve, I was hitting it hard and had a black out for the first time ever. Now I’m feeling scared and worried, and a bit out of control.  I enjoy alcohol and don’t want to give it up completely. I’d just like to get my habits back under control. Any suggestions?

A:  The most important thing is that you have recognized your drinking is a problem for you right now. The fact that you’re looking for support and ideas to make this more manageable is a great step.  Speaking of steps, there are millions of people who have found recovery through the 12-step model, although this approach is not for everyone.  What makes this approach so successful is the model of learning from and supporting others – in other words, building a support network.  Even if 12-step type program isn’t for you, we would still encourage you to concentrate on developing a support system.

So our advice is, don’t try and take this on alone. Look for a support group that isn’t abstinence-based. You might also consider therapy to work on some of those underlying issues that led to feeling “out of control.” It helps if we understand ourselves and why we do the things we do. Connecting with others who have had similar experiences is powerful and an effective tool.  There are many peer recovery programs around, and plenty of resources on the web.

From 3:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m., on January 31, the Mazzoni Center will host a “Wellness Workshop.” This event is designed specifically for LGBTQ folks who are actively in or considering recovery, and who are interested in learning about how things like yoga, meditation, and nutrition can help them get their physical and mental well-being back in balance. It’s a great chance to meet others who are going through a similar time in their life. More information is available here:


Judy Morrissey, LCSW, is the director of Mazzoni Center’s Open Door Counseling Program, and Liza Linder, MSW, LCSW, is an Open Door therapist.     

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