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Setting Ourselves Up for Wellness Success

Published in For the Health of It, Healthy Eating Tips, Exercise Author: Jodi Gertken, Director of Wellness

Editor’s Note: Jan. 17 is Ditch New Year’s Resolution Day. It’s been reported that 91 percent of Americans fail to keep their resolutions. But why does this happen? How can we actually stick to healthy changes we know we should make?

CentraCare Director of Wellness Jodi Gertken was recently a guest on “Your Health,” a weekly radio program with KNSI’s Bob Hughes discussing health issues featuring providers across CentraCare. Jodi discusses that some resolutions are simply too big and recommends that sometimes with change, we just need to start small. She also notes that there’s no reason you can’t start making positive changes at any time during the year.

Review the questions below to learn more. You can listen to the full program here. Some of the text below has been edited for length and clarity.

Q: Where do we begin with making goals for ourselves?

Jodi: Start small, start achievable. We talk about low hanging fruit all the time. Grab that low hanging fruit, celebrate the success and say, "Oh maybe I can get to that second thing I put on my list." But don't overwhelm ourselves by saying," Oh, I'm going to lose the weight, I'm going to quit smoking, I'm going to quit drinking, I'm going to quit . . ." Then you become paralyzed before you even begin. Take something small — maybe on this journey to lose weight — you're going to have one less sugar sweetened beverage and you're going to increase fruit and vegetables. Again, small and achievable.

People do come up with an aggressive list and almost set themselves up to fail right away. As you know, I'm a marathon runner. I love running. Nobody else in my family has that same passion. So I wouldn't say to my husband, "Hey Chad, this is the year that you're going to sign up for a marathon" if he's not even really done a 5K.

Are the goals that we're setting for ourselves achievable? Are they realistically within our grasp? Maybe somebody needs to lose 20 pounds, let's start with five. Or let's just start with developing new habits that are going to help us achieve that.

We know at CentraCare that more than 80 percent of our health happens outside of our clinic and hospital settings. It's a thousand different choices we make every day — from the moment we wake up until the moment we go to bed. So how can we improve those choices to be healthier for us choices?

In order to make something a habit, it's going to have to be something you repeat 21 to 26 times. And kind of like getting a new car — it's kind of exciting, it's new, it's different and it's fun. But it's going to lose that newness in a few weeks. Hopefully, by then, it will become a new habit that we can do every day.

Q: When we start on Jan. 1, could we be setting ourselves up for failure?

Jodi: It doesn't have to be a January thing. Do it in June, do it in September. Do it whenever it makes sense for you. I have been in the fitness industry for a long time and every Jan. 1, I would loathe going to the gym because you have 150 new members that are so energetic and enthusiastic. This is going to be their year. But by spring break, it's just crickets because they decided either that was their goal and then they're done and we'll see them all again the following January. Or it was just an unrealistic expectation that they were going to come to the gym as frequently as they had set themselves up to. That's where you kind of go back and say, "I don't need to go there every single day. Let's start with three to four times a week."

I was at a conference earlier this fall and the presenter had said, "When you try to be everything to everybody, you really can't be anything to anybody." And that really resonated with me because I think we do try to do that. We try to please everyone, and then we start burning ourselves out. And then we start to get the "feel bads" because again, we're trying to do everything.

So the new year can be about creating new habits, but we can also think about what do we want to quit doing to ourselves, to our families, to our colleagues — trying to please everyone. We need to quit fearing change. There's so much happening, so let's try to embrace some of those changes.

Another key to creating a new habit is to reword yourself. Set up as your, "If I do this, then I can do that." If I go for my run, I can go get a pedicure. There were certainly times where I've put the carrot out there with my own family and say, "All right, I'm going to do this and I'll meet you at a local restaurant. We're going to get a beverage and some pizza." That's my carrot. You can set up your own reward system to help encourage you and incentivize you.

Q: What are some other things to "quit" this year?

Jodi: Living in the past. Quit living in the past. Let those things go and try to embrace the next year with a more positive attitude. And that's really hard for many of us to do. That whole mind shift takes quite a lot of discipline.

Quit overthinking.

Quit being afraid to be different.

Quit sacrificing your happiness for others. And that goes back to kind of trying to be everything to everyone.

Quit thinking that you're not good enough. Flip that mind switch. And that's not easy for many of us because we kind of have that attitude that "I don't measure up to expectations." And a lot of times those are our own expectations that we put upon ourselves.

Quit thinking you have no purpose. Everybody has a purpose and we really need to embrace that. And think more positively about ourselves.

At CentraCare, we talk about our mood elevator. Where are we? Are we starting way down in the bottom or can we just get to curious and then move up from there? Or the shadow that we cast because how we come into the office or into our home or when we get home from work, that shadow that we have is going to impact everybody else around us as well.

In the St. Cloud area, you can listen to “Your Health” weekly on AM 1450 and FM 99.3, Saturdays at 2:30 p.m. and Sundays at 9:30 a.m. Or you can listen live at