Are you resolved? Or is your backbone bending?!

Which describes you better? New Years Resolved or a Half-Hearted Hector!? (Comic thanks to What up fellow students? Welcome back to the grind! I hope you’ve slept well, celebrated much and enjoyed the holidays. It’s hard to believe 2011 slipped away so quietly, its absence filled by the rumoured “last year ever” and marked with lists of self-improvement goals from here to infinity. I expect many of you have thought about, or perhaps written down, a list of resolutions to tackle in this fine year. I certainly have, although with a different spin. I’ve done a bit of research because I’m sick of not keeping my resolutions and then subsequently beating myself up for having the willpower of a slow-dumb zombie. I’ll take you through it step- by-step, highlight some issues and some strengths so that hopefully when you look at your list you can make some adjustments to improve results! My original list: 1. Join a club to get fit and meet sweet people. 2. Be a better friend to my better friends. My tips on making your own resolutions list: Get specific: If you haven’t noticed already, I’ve got a more than ambiguous list. Basic goal-making advice suggests goals need to be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely). Keep your list short: I’m not trying to solve world hunger, get super-skinny, work two more jobs and give-up dairy (I would never give-up dairy) and all  while studying at U of T! There’s factual proof that trying to do too many things at once decreases your ability to do any of them well! The trouble with having too many resolutions is that our brains, specifically the pre-frontal cortex area responsible for willpower, can’t handle it. An old example likens your brain to a bicep muscle, if you ask it to hold a million textbooks at once, it won’t be able to hack it and you’re bound to end up raining textbooks! Good news is, if you do physical activity you can improve your willpower resiliency, so head to the Athletic Centre where you’ll be able to get your body in motion. Regular physical activity has time and again proven to improve academic performance, enhance concentration and will therefore help you keep your “promises-to-self.” If getting in more physical activity is on your resolution list then you’ll be killing two birds with one stone! Another tidbit to remember is that old adage: everything in moderation. If you’re shooting for drastic physical changes don’t forget, Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither was your body (Thank you for such sage advice Tony Horton). Take baby steps to your success! So how am I doing? On goal one, I’ve actually been sticking with it! Joining the triathalon club has proven to be a very SMART goal. I’ve got people to be accountable to, amazing coaches to help me get the most out of it and a really great group of people to do it with. I was initially pretty terrified of getting back into organized sport. The usual self-doubt appeared and my motivation wavered, but after my first practice I was sold! I don’t mean to suggest it’s easy. My first session was a swim practice (in the gorgeous 50m pool at the Athletic Centre) and it included me wearing a full-piece swimsuit, brain- squeezing bathing cap and face-indenting goggles. It’s not easy walking into a brand new group of people in such a stunning outfit, but if I can do it, you can too! After the initial butterflies wore off I was in the water and keeping up with the group. Not only did I benefit from some excellent suggestions on my technique, but I also got a great workout in and made some new friends! No complaints here! As for goal two, specifically, being a better friend and spending more time with friends,  I suggest you measure this by keeping track of hangouts on a sweet colourful calendar; I may just make them active hangouts to maximize resolution efficiency. I've made it attainable by not including everyone on Facebook and am realistic by scheduling other things like work, readings, eating and exercise. To achieve this goal in a timely manner, start now and keep it going!  If you're looking for hang-out tips and like some tasty food with your physical activity and socializing, I suggest checking out Winter Warm-Up next Thursday. I hope you’ve got your list out now and are making any necessary adjustments! What is on your list anyways? Do you have any exciting, active activities on campus planned for this semester?! If so I want to know! TTFNB’s! (Ta ta for now babes!) Laura

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