2008-12-26 / Columnists

Eye On Physical Therapy

Commentary By Dr. Tim Rohrs, DPT

As another year limps to an end, we get ready for a New Year. This was a year that was filled with events shocking, extreme, surprising and elation. We saw a man of color elected the next President of the United States and the collapse of Wall Street. We saw gas prices skyrocket to record highs in July and plunge to record lows as you read this. In my younger days, I often wondered what the big fuss was about New Years. Sure it is my Dad's birthday, but other than that, why the celebrations and parties? Admittedly, throughout my teens and twenties it was an excuse to have another party, although we hardly needed another excuse. It is only now, the more mature version of myself, that I think I get it.

Each year we make resolutions to change. We are going to stop smoking, eat right, exercise daily, lose weight, stop drinking etc. At some point, usually in February or, for the truly dedicated, March, the effort stalls and we revert to our old behaviors. The rest of the year we continue our old habits, the new ones never getting traction. Ahh, but the New Year gives us hope for those dreams to be materialized. New Year's Day is about hope! A new beginning! The failures and letdowns the difficulties and disappointments were last year. This is a New Year! Anything can happen. While the New Year offers us another chance to succeed, the old year can be our mentor. Author George Santayana wrote in 1905 "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it".

If you had a failed diet attempt, or could not give up smoking, or start exercising, why was that? More often than not, it is a lack of proper planning and preparation. If planning a diet, did you figure out how many calories you need per day? Did you research meal plans and menus and their nutritional content on the internet? Did you shop for your ingredients on the weekend so that your food for the week was ready to go? Did you rid the house of all the tempting foods that contributed to your failure last year? It is like trying to take a phyAsics test without attending school or studying for the test. Failure is imminent and unavoidable. The internet is a great resource. You can find virtually anything. In fact, I just used it for the quote above from George Santayana. Preparation and forethought are a prerequisite for success. If you make the same attempt as last year, without changing, you will get the same result as last year.

As you read this, you have probably just finished the Christmas candies cakes and goodies, or the potato latkes and doughnuts. The New Year diet and exercise resolutions may have already started to make an appearance in your thoughts. If you cannot use the internet or don't have access to it, find someone who does. Use your health care professional to help you plan for health related resolutions. This New Year can be different. Success is in your hands. The New Year is about hope. Hope plus planning and preparation with a small dose of willpower will equal success. Have a Happy and Healthy New Year! Peace and Love.

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