Believe it or not, New Year’s resolution-making has been around significantly longer than anyone would imagine as the tradition dates back to Roman times. The word January comes from the mythological Roman god, Janus who was the god of gates, doors, doorways, beginnings, and endings. He is depicted with having two faces with one to the past and one to the future and hence became the ancient symbol for resolutions.
For some of us it’s the same thing every year, January rolls around and we commit ourselves to being better people, to losing weight or quitting smoking or to fix whatever is wrong with us. We promise ourselves, ultimately, that this year is going to be different, that the resolution we were supposed to stick to last year are going to come to fruition this year and that is the end of it!The bulk of resolutions we make generally tend to be about our health, our families and our jobs and in keeping that in mind we have compiled a series of the most common resolutions below along with some suggestions on how to keep them.
1) Going on a diet! Nowadays, both men and women alike obsess about their waistlines, for some its about vanity but for others its about the serious health complications that can arise from long term obesity like diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. Its one thing to tell the world that this is the year that you lose weight but its another thing altogether to actually lose the weight the healthy way and actually keep it off.
If you are seriously overweight, the first step might be to consult a medical professional and see what kind of damage being overweight might have already caused and to see if your doctor might have any particular advice on how you in particular should be losing weight.
Should you find yourself in good health with a few pounds to spare, the next step is mental preparation. Adopting a positive attitude towards your weight loss is key in that weight loss is work, no doubt and who on earth sticks to something that they really don’t like? Try not to think about how miserable the diet might make you but instead think of how developing healthy eating patterns is a life long gift that you are giving yourself and your family that is bound to make you feel so much better in the long run. Deciding that this is what you want to do and that you are going to embrace it is the first step.
Once you are mentally set, its time to address the physicality of the situation by finding a plan that works for you, is medically safe and most importantly is realistic. The dieting industry is a multibillion dollar affair with programs like Atkins and South Beach touting marvellous results however just about every single fad diet ceases to work or keep off the weight long term as these diets tend to involve a great deal of restrictions. Once the participant goes off the diet, the weight comes back.
One suggestion by many dieting websites and medical health professionals is to keep a food journal and examine precisely what you are eating, as we are often not aware of what we are consuming. Becoming aware and examining what is excessive in your diet is a great place to start. Back in November Dr. Stanley Vollant, an aboriginal health expert, commented on how he felt his people were eating all of the wrong things, “they are eating too much carbohydrates and too much lipids and probably they should go back to their traditional way of eating.”
If you would prefer to go with a diet plan from a book or a club, consult the Dieticians of Canada checklist available here: http://www.dietitians.ca/english/factsheets/e1997_03.html
Some suggestions off the list entail that your diet plan not recommend that you be losing more than two pounds per week, that the diet be balanced and based on Canada’s Food Guide and most importantly, that your diet not promise “magical” weight loss. Weight loss is not a magical process that a wizard can perform for you but more a mathematical equation, its input/output. To lose weight one must have a larger output of exercise than their input of calories over a long-term period of time and it’s the same for maintaining weight loss.
To consult Canada’s food guide go to: http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/food-guide-aliment/index_e.html
2) Finding time for fitness and actually doing it! With the health problems that are on the rise amongst the Cree communities, there has been much talk of creating walking paths and community programs to help facilitate improving the overall health of everyone in the communities. Whether you are overweight or not, exercise is still a necessity and the benefits to exercising as opposed to not are hand over fist from stress reduction to improving your quality of life.
Start walkin’! Before there were skidoos, ATVs, trucks cars and planes, the Cree people got around quite well on their feet and Cree people can still get around on their feet so if you can, try and start walking for at least twenty consecutive minutes a day at a brusque pace. Taking a daily walk is an ideal way to start exercising if you are out of shape and it’s the perfect activity to do alone or with friends and family. If there are few places to walk in your community or there are no side walks, go it old school and slap on a pair of snowshoes. If your ancestors could do it, so can you!
If you are one of those ultra busy people trying to balance work and family and find that you’ve little time to exercise, try avoiding some modern convinces from time to time. Avoid the escalator in the mall or the elevator at work, take the stairs as often as possible. If you know that there is going to be a heavy snow fall overnight and you are in relatively good health why not wake up an extra twenty minutes earlier and shovel the car out instead of using a snow blower or waiting for the snowplough. If you live in a community where the grocery store and other shops are within walking distance, run your errands on foot.
Be a Joiner
If there are fitness courses available in your community, by all means join in! Group activities such as team sports are not only a great way to get into shape but also a great way to keep in shape as the old adage goes, “there is no I in team.” When others count on you to be there, its much harder to quit an activity so if there is hockey or broom ball or any other group sport being offered in your community, why not take the opportunity to socialise while burning off calories?
Should you feel a little intimidated by the whole “exercising thing,” after a hiatus from physicality, why not consult someone in the know. Granted we all can’t afford to go and see a personal trainer and in the north the availability of big fancy gyms is not as great but The Public Health Agency of Canada has an excellent website that explains just about every thing you need to know. Broken down into three different activity categories, endurance, flexibility and strength, this website explains precisely how much is enough, why each is important in an exercise regime and gives suggestions as to what kinds of activities can incorporate all three of these aspects. http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca.
Most importantly, make sure that the physical activity you have chosen to partake in is an activity to enjoy! Exercising should be a happy part of your day and if you have chosen something you like, be it team sports or solitary activities, you will be more inclined to do it and less inclined to quit.
3) Quitting Smoking! Its hard to say what the most addictive drug on earth is as the debate rages on between cocaine, heroin and new front runner, crystal meth but one of the world’s hardest and most common addictions to get over is tobacco.
There are absolutely no health benefits to smoking cigarettes as they cause many cancers including lung cancer and can also cause respiratory problems as well as cardiovascular problems. According to the Health Canada website, “more than 45,000 people will die this year in Canada due to smoking,” with those statistics however comes a great deal of advice on quitting smoking.
As quitting smoking is a very personal matter, the program that might work for one person might not necessarily work for the next which is why it is important to consult an your doctor and find out what program is going to be right for you. Should you be contemplating quitting, now is the time to get informed and find out first what kinds of resources are available in your community. The Ligne j’Arrête! Is Quebec’s quit smoking help line and though their website is entirely in French, English representatives are available on their help line to council those considering quitting and also give support to those trying to keep off the “ciggies”.
j’Arrête can be reached at 1 866 jarrête (527-7383) for one on one support.
Should you want to involve yourself in a more structured program at a smoking cessation clinic, j’Arrête’s also has listings for all of the clinics in the Cree communities on their website, to locate one go to: http://www.jarrete.qc.ca/terres_cries.html
Health Canada has also come out with a brand new online quit-smoking aid called E-Quit. The idea is to send daily e-mails to those contemplating quitting to prepare them for their journey. Participants of this free program get daily information and support through their e-mail accounts and according to the site, “E-Quit will prepare you to quit smoking 20 days after you receive the first message.” If you have daily access to an e-mail account, why not give it a shot? Go to: http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hl-vs/tobac-tabac/quit-cesser/now-maintenant/equit-jarrete/index_e.html to subscribe.
4) Making more time for family! Between working, cooking, cleaning, getting the kids on time to school and meeting the rest of our modern day adult commitments, we may get to spend time with our families but is it about quality or quantity? Cell phones, pagers and the Internet can also serve to disrupt family life as North Americans find themselves devoting more and more of their personal time to their employers as they are so much easier to reach and your work can now come home with you. With the pressures and demands of daily life mounting, one of the best ways to now get quality family time is to book some.
Start off with family meals. How many of us eat our daily meals while sitting in front of the television? It used to be that come the supper hour, the whole family used to gather round and share about their days and though it may not be as easy to do so these days, make the effort. When supper hour rolls around, turn off the television and have everyone at the dinner table take turns talking about their days. If supper is not a manageable time due to scheduling constraints, try waking up a half-hour earlier so that everyone can have breakfast together. Having at least one meal per day together is a great way to keep in touch with the daily trials and tribulations of the whole household.
Pick Saturday or Sunday to be your family day. As the family that plays together, stays together, reserve a weekly-allotted time for an activity or outing. It could be spending the afternoon skating together, playing board games or watching a movie but structured family time is a great way for the whole family to reconnect. If the kids don’t seem interested in what you have planed for them, why not let a different family member pick an activity every week or have a family vote on what the activity should be. Of course if you feel that your family is blessed with health, wealth and happiness, why not share your warmth with the community and volunteer together? There is just about no better way for children to learn the value of sharing than to start helping others early on in life.
Sharing family history? Do your children know they ways of their ancestors? Do they know what it was life was like for grandma or grandpa when they were children? So much of our identities are intertwined with where we come from and who we came from so why not enrich your children’s lives with their own history. The family matriarch or patriarch should always be included in family activities whenever possible and structuring family time for storytelling is an essential way to pass on life lessons, history and advice between the generations.
5) Learning something new. Despite what some may think, learning does not end when you graduate from school but is rather a life long process.
Many of us end up in jobs that we don’t like or end up in a field we like without the means of moving up in the world because we don’t’ have the education to do the job we really want to do. That is why there is no time like the present to consider retraining for a new job or to consider taking a course for the simple pleasure of learning.
Should you want to change fields all together and pick up a trade, why not check out what the Waswanipi Vocational Training Centre has to offer? Choose from various programs such as, Assistance to Patients or Residents in Health Care Establishments, Carpentry, Computing Support, Hairdressing, Heavy Equipment Mechanic, Northern Building Maintenance, Professional Cooking or Secretarial Studies. Go to http://www.cscree.qc.ca/Vocational/Programs.htm for more information.
If you don’t feel like travelling to learn to learn something new, have access to a computer and have not yet finished high school, its still not too late, The Cree School Board also offers the Sabtuan Continuing Education, Distance Education Program. Students take courses in “virtual classrooms” over the Internet by taking in live broadcasts over the and then sending in their assignments via mail, fax, or e-mail. To find out more information go to http://www.cscree.qc.ca/Pedaser/Sabtuan/framework.html or call (418) 923-3347.
Should you want to go the university route to take a course or start learning a new language, why not check out what e
Concordia, Concordia University’s online classrooms have to offer? Whether you never finished your bachelor’s degree or you are just interested in perfecting a particular skill to get you ahead in business or in life, e
Concordia offers a myriad of online courses from arts to information technology.
For more information go to: http://www.econcordia.ca
Whatever it is that you are trying to improve upon in the New Year, try to keep in mind that Rome wasn’t built in a day and that change takes time. Be flexible with yourself and most importantly, if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.
Happy New 2007!