Dr.Venkatesh Babu is a Neuro-Psychiatrist and Mental Health and Behavioural Sciences, at Fortis Hospitals, Bangalore. He tells us about the way to fulfilling health resolutions in 2019.
1. ‘See the big picture’ or ‘start small’-What is the best way to start off health resolutions this new year?
Start Small. It’s always the small steps that translate into big results. New Year Resolution is one such fancy phenomena where once you stumble, you tend to give up. Focus on small steps.
2. A lot of people fail at keeping their new year’s resolution. What is the reason for that?
The primary problem is with understanding New Year Resolutions as a behavioural change phenomenon. Many times people who engage in resolutions don’t invest in understanding how a change happens or why a change is necessary and what do they really want to change. Without a proper understanding of this, it stays as a wish- it doesn’t convert into a change. This path between a wish and a realistic change warrants work.
3. Why is it difficult to achieve health resolutions like quitting smoking or drinking alcohol?
The goal that many people frame for themselves is abstinence. But abstinence is an enigma- it doesn’t work. So, if you really want to stay away from this, understand why you engage with this. The brain is a funny organ. It wants to engage more in things that are pleasurable and fun while disengaging with painful things. If you are taking away something that gives your brain a high, then you have to replace it. But people don’t know what to replace it with. When it comes to smoking, the first lapse you have feels like reason enough to quit. But lapse is a part of the change.
4. If a person’s new year resolution is to lose weight, do you think that getting a gym membership will help?
The straightforward answer is no. Some people believe that enrolling into a gym will force them to walk into the gym every day. If losing weight is the objective, there are so many ways to do it. There is a concept called Principle Of Autonomy. Would you feel like walking into a gym after a hard day’s work, after braving the traffic? We make choices based on Autonomy and Comfort. A decision that interferes with our autonomy is a decision we tend to avoid. Hitting the gym for the purpose of losing weight is a difficult routine. One needs to have a sense of motivation already prevailing and be in the wheel of change. Rather than picking gym on Jan 1st, replace bad foods, regulate your weight, or try to cut down 500 calories a day for two weeks. That is more achievable. The moment you tie these with the next step then comes the gym.
5. What is the one advice you would give to people who want to focus on health this year?
‘Concious Living’ is the way forward. If you aren’t conscious about what you eat, what you drink, how you spend your day- your unconscious mind will always take you into a comfort zone.