Goals vs. Resolutions

Monday, December 23, 2019

Growing up in the Quad Cities, I had a simple life. If I didn’t know something, I’d go to my great-grandma Nana’s big dictionary and look it up or my grandparent’s Encyclopedia set. If it was in either source, we took it as factual and never questioned what it said. So, it’s no surprise that when I was asked to write an article on goals versus resolutions, the first thing I did was look in the dictionary for an official definition of both.

   Definition of resolution: the act or process of resolving

   Definition of goal: the end toward which effort is directed: AIM

   Provided by Merriam-Webster

Two years ago, I stopped making New Year's resolutions; they just never worked for me. I was tired of trying to “resolve”, but was interested in “aiming” for something significant! In the past, I’d think of something that needed resolving and at midnight New Year’s Eve I’d announce it to myself and often to others, but not take any actionable steps to resolve it come January First! Does that sound like you too? Two years ago, I didn’t even make it to midnight! I was so tired, stressed and overwhelmed by a busy holiday and the recent loss of my dad. My mom was in the hospital ICU, and at the same time, I was hosting a Christmas party for 40 people. My weight was at an all-time high from not making time to exercise and cook nutritious food, and every cell in my body hurt. 

I had had enough and knew I needed to set some serious goals to bring my body and mind back to a state of improved health and wellness. I was aging rapidly and my own health was not acceptable. Sadly, seven days later Mom passed away. I met with all of her physicians, mostly specialists and read 400 plus pages of her medical record. My mom had been on a ventilator and unresponsive and I needed to be her eyes, ears and voice in those final days. I learned more about my mom and her chronic health conditions in those final days than I had learned in the previous 30 years. My mom was complex, and her conditions were even more complex. Mom suffered for years with chronic health conditions; some of the big ones, like heart disease, thyroid disorder, obesity, hypertension and some rare diseases. She had a host of physicians and therapists and a tackle box full of prescription medications and supplements. As I said, she was very complex. 

Her mom died young with similar health issues and her grandmother as well. Mom may have thought her genetics played the biggest role in the three generations struggling with similar health conditions, but I knew different. They all had a sweet tooth; 90% of my mom’s diet involved sugar and the other 10% was oils. I may be exaggerating, but not by much. Mom struggled to walk from the car to the house and up just three stairs without getting winded. She did participate in a cardiac rehab program after her heart surgery, but when the program ended, so did her movement. I suspect my grandmother was very similar and although I did not know my maternal great grandmother, I’ve seen the photos and heard stories of how she loved to cook and eat. My great grandmother weighed around 500 pounds when she passed away. This was not going to be my story. I did not believe that my genetics would pull me in the direction of this terrible fate. I was determined to end the generational path and change the course to a healthier future. So two years, 16 days and 4 hours ago, I made a goal: to return my body and mind to the state it was in, 10 years prior. Crazy, I know, but that was my goal. I was aiming for a bullseye and that’s what I hit!

I read DNA Is Not Destiny, by Steven J. Heine, after reading 400 pages of my mom’s medical history. I read binders full of health reports from both my mom and my dad’s personal health records; my inheritance of sorts. My mom purchased about 100 books on all her conditions. I read parts of all of them. I did extensive DNA testing on myself and family members. I talked to leading specialists. I started online schooling to become a nutritionist and I changed my diet drastically. NO MORE PROCESSED SUGAR!! Genetically, I have a sweet tooth. I suspect my mom did too, and that tooth needed to be extracted from my diet. It’s been a year and a half without any processed sugar. I am down over 100 pounds and feel 10 years younger. I have no pain, no chronic health conditions, no medications and I cook most of my food from scratch. I have proven to myself and others, DNA is not my destiny! My mom’s research has given me new life. The generations after me have a new healthy highway to jump on and will not need to reflect back on the poor health of past generations. It all started with a goal and then small actionable steps to achieve the goal. One success leads to the next, which built on the previous success. Sure, there was a bit of trial and error, but in general, I was aiming for a bullseye, and I’m very glad I hit it! In the end, I was more successful hitting my goal by aiming at a specific target. Often, New Year’s resolutions are not specific enough or pertaining to something of great significance to you. 

Psychotherapist Jonathan Alpert states, "Goals need to be made for the individual. So often, people seem to be influenced by their friends, their family, what they see in society." He goes on to state, “They need to be framed up positively and make it pertain to what you actually want.”