The Top 5 New Year Real-Solutions For 2009

From my own experience in counselling people over the years I would suggest that New Year’s Resolutions don’t work.

How about some Real-Solutions instead.

Here are the top 5 goals you might have (or you should have) as resolutions, and although you could see me in person instead here are the cheap, often no cost, steps to turn airy-fairy resolutions into New Year Real-Solutions.

Resolution 1 – Lose Weight

This old chestnut has to be the top of the Resolution list, but are you planning to just repeat the same old mistakes you made before?

Real-Solution 1 – Behave Thin

Stop with the dieting. Diets and diet mentality is a weight cause, not a cure. Make eating changes you can live with for the rest of your life. You too can eat and be like a naturally thin person.

Action Steps…

  1. There are about half-a-dozen reasonable books / courses on these natural eating approaches. The most effective I handout / sell in my own practice is this one I recommend has finally come out in the US on Amazon here.
  2. For longer term support access the online McKenna website here
  3. FREE version – Join my blog list at the top of the page, or if you are in my home town of Adelaide the local list here, and you will get a 30 minute mp3 of all the steps you need.

Resolution 2 – Improve Musculoskeletal Health

Most people would have this on their list, except that most people have given up. Often people want to improve their fitness for example, but they are scared of injuring themselves or making their current aches and pains worse.

Headaches, back pain, hip pains, arthritis, neck pain, etc etc etc. Enough is enough. Stop taking short term measures, or forking out for never-ending sessions of chiropractors, doctors, physios and all those other health professionals.

Real-Solution 2 – Self-Improve Postural Alignment

Treat the cause, which is almost always a postural problem caused by our all-too-convenient, ergonomically-designed, splinted, orthoticed, hunched-over lives.

Sure physios and chiropractors can put you back in alignment, but they won’t keep you there. You need the flexibility and muscle strength to do it for yourself at home, and you want it in days and weeks, not months or years.

Action Steps

  1. Visit one of Pete Egoscue’s clinics all around the US, or pay for online treatment at www.Egoscue.com
  2. Buy one of Pete’s books. I’d suggest ‘Pain-Free’ is the best place for most people to start. The copy I had autographed by Pete is the book I would take with me on a desert island (it’s a fun read as well as being in depth and practical.) ‘Pain-Free’ is the book I have sold / handed out over and over to patients and throughout my family. Order ‘Pain Free’ at Amazon here.
  3. For free: Go to www.Egoscue.com and click on Where is the pain to get a pair of exercises specifically for whatever body part ails you. Get functional fast.

Resolution 3 – Manifest Greater Success

In such turbulent times of financial crisis and worry, this might be higher on people’s list than usual.

Finally much of the hype has died down on the Law of Attraction. Thank goodness. Add in Giver’s Gain, attitude of gratitude, positive energy, Pay-It-Forward, karma, The Secret, or any of 100 other variations but the idea is that what you send out comes back to you 10 fold.

This is one of those self-help ideas that it is worth acting upon.

Real-Solution 3 – Manifest By Taking An Action

I was reminded of this when one of my former patients came to me after he was diagnosed with a severe and medically fatal form of cancer. He went off to a course with a guy I suggested interstate and came back and said something very strange to me. He said, “I don’t know how to say thank you to people. I need to learn to do this.”

Action Steps – all these are free

  1. Get your problems in perspective. If you’ve been caught up in a psychiatric diagnosis (aka label), then take this antidote test that measures your strengths, instead of your weaknesses. Details are here.
  2. Improve your happiness simply by writing down, once a week, 5 things you are grateful for. Check out the research evidence here.
  3. Recognize, appreciate and acknowledge others. Think of someone right this minute, and turn that thought into something that you and they will remember for a lifetime. Take action on your inner promptings with my compliments here.

Resolution 4 – Make A Change In Yourself

From stopping smoking and cutting back on alcohol, to sorting out how to get “unstuck” in your life, to learning a new skill there’s something in here for every one.

Real-Solution 4 – Don’t Kid Yourself About Changing

If you’ve failed before, get help. If you have a motivation problem check the fundamentals first. Maybe you’re better off not having that as a goal at all. Think about it.

Action Steps:

  1. if you are really stuck, two help-all products are the CD Your Instant Life Revolution and my own online “Self Help Meeting”
  2. For free: Habit Change 101 from the top internet self-help guru is right here.
  3. For free: Want to learn a new skill? This will multiply the chance you’ll succeed.

Resolution 5 – Help Out The Planet

Oh boy should this be on people’s New Year’s Resolutions. Think bigger than yourself. Unfortunately it rarely gets a mention.

Real-Solution 5 – Help Yourself (By Helping Out The Planet)

Call me a cynic, but I don’t think changes will work unless they are already in your self-interest.

Turning off the tap as you brush your teeth is fine, but I really think water just needs to be lots more expensive in the first place so people have their own incentive to think twice. Give people the consequences and habits change so much more easily.

Action Steps – these are free (or better)

  1. Find food that tastes good beyond the first chew. The most environmentally damaging food (eg those that required lots of transporting from far away, those that are out of season in your area, those that are mass produced for their pristine appearance alone, those that have lots of processing and packaging) often just don’t taste as good. It doesn’t have to be organic. It can be home grown.
  2. Spend less. One of the best things about this financial meltdown is that it will get people to spend less and spending less on fuel, new gadgets, electricity, food, clothes, etc etc is almost always an environmentally good thing.
  3. Try out Freecycle.org My wife has been using it for the past 3 months or so and has only one suggestion – get in quick on the good stuff because it can go VERY fast.

Well there you go.

I’ve left off financial goals such as getting out of debt, making more money, and finding better investments than the stockmarket because I don’t usually cover these in my counselling practice. You can email me if you want my suggestions on those.

But I hope this has included something you had on your Resolution list, and given you a way to make it really happen before next New Year.

-Dr Martin Russell

The LAP-BAND Solution

No, this is not my line.

The LAP-BAND Solution: A Partnership in Weight Loss” is the title of a book by Australian surgeon Dr Paul O’Brien which I read with interest when one of my patients found it in a library and showed it to me.

Since the start of 2007 I have been doing public talks on the myths and facts about weight loss.

The key question I ask people at those talks is this…

What would you advise someone who wanted to lose a SIGNIFICANT amount of weight LONG-TERM?

By which I mean, what actually works to lose >10% of bodyweight for >5 years.

People will come back with all sorts of answers.

I’d love to be able to say it was some sort of psychological intervention, but I can’t (more on this later.)

The fact is that the only research-PROVEN answer is an operation.

There are a few types of stomach operations for weight loss, also known as bariatric surgery, but to my mind they fall into two camps; ones that irreversibly rearrange the gut in some way, and ones that leave your insides intact and put in some sort of stomach banding instead.

The commonest operation of the first type is called gastric bypass surgery, and it is popular in the US.

The most well-known of the gastric banding type is LAP-BANDing (TM), and it is the most popular in Australia.

In “The LAP-BAND SolutionDr Paul O’Brien is described as one of the originators of this device, and has extensive experience in academic, research, and professional areas of obesity and bariatric surgery.

The book therefore promised to be an authoratitive text, and also very pro-LAP BAND(TM). It was both of these.

It is also fairly readable which is a nice bonus too.

The best bit about finding people who have one solution to a problem, is to listen to what they say about other suggested solutions. They will tend to be scathing.

Here’s what Paul O’Brien says about drugs…

The long-term efficacy is poor and the long-term safety is unknown … the average weight loss after 1 year of orilistat [Xenical] is about 7 lb (3 kg) and for sibutramine [Meridia or Reductil] is 10 lb (4.5 kg) … these results are just not good enough.

Here’s what he has to say about weight loss by dieting and lifestyle modification…

The commercial weight-loss centers have made fortunes by promising excellent weight loss through various twists on the “lifestyle” methods, and their constant advertisements always show the classic “before and after” pictures. Invariably, the “√§fter” picture is only a few months after. They do not show the “after” pictures at 5 years.

A recent comprehensive review of all the high-quality scientific studies of the options for weight control has found that there is no evidence of a durable effect from any current lifestyle intervention methods for obesity.

The only problem with this statement is that the review he refers to is in fact from 1997. Not exactly ‘recent’ in my opinion.

Still, the last 11 years haven’t proven any better studies that I am aware of either.

[The approach I recommend has not been proven in the research, and since there is no pill or expensive program, ie no money in it, I very much doubt the required multi-year studies will ever be done.]

However, my patient was already losing weight without surgery.

She gave the book to me for an entirely different reason.

She pointed out that the book talks about patients with a LAP-BAND(TM) learning to eat in an entirely different way – a way that mimics many (but not all) of the things I recommend in my non-surgical, non-dieting approach.

This is really interesting.

What if surgery is merely an extreme way to change someone’s eating behaviors?

I don’t think that is all of the effect, but I certainly think it is some of it, and maybe all of the long-term lasting results.

Why would I say this?

Because I have worked with people who lost weight with surgery, but then gained much of it back again. Their results didn’t last, and I then teach them the additional changes.

Every method of weight loss reports some successes.

Some of people even keep the weight off long-term.

A few become celebrities (eg Biggest Loser winners) and their new life then depends upon keeping the weight off. That might help as motivation.

But I think there are another group of people who discover a few other tips and habits that give them the success they need – effortlessly.

I think they discover, albeit accidentally, the non-dieting method that naturally thin people live unconsciously and automatically.

If you are over-weight enough to qualify for surgery, then it certainly is worth pursuing. In the US you might need to push to get access to LAP-BAND(TM) because apparently insurance companies are still trying to avoid paying for this, but I agree with Dr O’Brien that it is a better option than gastric surgery, if for no other reason than it is entirely reversible.

But also know that you can make many of the same changes without surgery, and all for free!

Here’s how.

Enter your name and email address for the blog notification list at the top of the page here, and you will be sent a complete audio of all the steps I suggest.

[If you are in my home town of Adelaide, then you can get the Adelaidean-only emails with the same audio here instead.]

-Dr Martin Russell