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The Catalyst

Resolution Revolution...let's get started

By Mikie Hayes
Public Relations

Janis Newton, interim director of the Harper Student Wellness Center, demonstrates proper crunch technique. photo provided

It’s the end of January. Sadly, the festivities of the holidays have been over for a month now. People no longer greet others with a cheery, hopeful, Happy New Year! — now it’s, “where’s that report I asked for?”

So, life is pretty much back to normal…

But, what about New Year’s resolutions? I wondered how many people are still working them come Jan. 31. Thankfully, the University of Scranton knew the answer: 64 percent of those who make them.

Every single Jan. 1 is an invitation to wipe the slate clean and strive to be a better person: shed some pounds, quit smoking, spend less and save more, help our fellow man, put Christmas decorations away before March (OK, that may just be me.)

According to the University of Scranton study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology, 38 percent of Americans make New Year’s resolutions and 8 percent achieve what they set out to do. But 8 percent doesn’t reflect the entire picture. By the end of June, 46 percent of those who made resolutions are still keeping them… not bad.

The number one resolution in the U.S.? Losing weight.

Being that 66.7 percent of adults in the U.S. are considered overweight or obese, that may not be a huge surprise.

While Barbie and Ken haven't gained an ounce since March of 1959, clearly most of the rest of us have, and nearly 40 percent of us need a good reason to change things in our lives and a date on which to start.

January 31 we know that 36 percent of “resolutioners” have already bailed. Did life get in the way? Did the monthly office birthday cookie derail them? Did they go into the endeavor fully resolved, with written goals? If not, that could be a recipe for failure. People who explicitly make resolutions are 10 times more likely to attain their goals than people who don’t, according to the same study.

But how many people have just given up on making New Year’s resolutions all together? Apparently a lot. Thirty–eight percent “absolutely” never make resolutions and 17 percent make them infrequently.

My small study bears out similarly.
A query of 30 people on the MUSC horseshoe, during my “man on the street” interview, yielded only three New Year’s resolutions:

  • Keais Pope, a College of Medicine student, wants to lose 15 pounds and kick the crap out of his boards.
  • John Green, a public safety officer, plans to tithe more this year at his church.
  • Krutika Patel, a College of Dental Medicine student, longs to be more organized and has started carrying around a pocket organizer and writing down projects and crossing them off her list.

The others responded with some version of “I don’t make them.” “I hate resolutions.” “No.” “Resolutions should be outlawed.”

The disappointing results initiated a “woman on the phone” campaign with my begging colleagues to share the changes they hoped to make in 2014.

After several calls produced answers ranging from: “Oh come on, please don’t ask me that!” to “My resolution is not to make resolutions.” (“Wait, isn’t that a resolution?” I asked...click.)

Finally I found one willing survey participant.

Erin Charpia with Business Development & Marketing Services wants to stop smoking after a recent stent procedure and spend more time with her grandkids. Thank you, Erin, and good luck!

Defeated, I decided to scrap the article. Then, I thought to myself: Wait a minute… I didn’t make any real resolutions this year – more like a passing note to self: Get sleep. Lose weight. Did I say get sleep?

Most people state a lack of willpower as the reason they failed in their quest for self–improvement.  Research shows the more support you have the better your outcomes will likely be. Look at Oprah.

Perhaps we should just admit we need the help of experts, hand-holders, motivators.  I mean, we wouldn’t try to pull our own tooth – well, not a second time - or remove our own appendix.

We spend at least 40 hours on campus a week and we’re surrounded by countless types of experts.
Out of the Top 10 resolutions, there are resources within blocks that can help with a good six of them:

  • Lose weight — Run right now to the Wellness Center or Weigh Management Center. Literally. Run.
  • Staying fit and healthy — Ditto from above and add every health professional on campus
  • Learn something exciting — Read Public Relations’ Broadcast messages to find great classes, studies, lectures, events
  • Quit smoking — Call the Office of Health Promotion
  • Help others in their dreams — Call the Office of Development

Bottom–line, a resolution doesn’t have to start on Jan. 1. It can start on
March 15 or Sept. 20 or Nov. 4. It doesn’t even have to be a resolution. It can be your own personal revolution or an evolution. The name doesn’t matter.

I started my personal revolution on Jan. 10, in Susan Johnson’s office, when I committed to a Year of Mindfulness, which starts with Janis Newton’s Healthy Charleston Challenge. HCC. The very letters inspire fear. I’d heard about it, but never had the guts to attempt it when other friends
stepped up.

So, will I be planking until I faint? Will it be a blessing just knowing the Ashley River Tower is directly next door to the Wellness Center? Will someone on my team pull a hammy or tear a delt? Will anyone fall off the Stairmaster crying, “I just can’t do anymore.”

These questions – and many others – will be answered in future issues.

Read Part I of A Year if Mindfulness blog, visit http://academicdepartments.musc.edu/catalyst/archives/2014/1-31HCC.htm.

February 2, 2014
 
 
 

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