Making and keeping New Year’s resolutions

New Year’s resolutions often revolve around health and fitness. For farmers making such resolutions, what advice can you offer?

Lower expectations

Colleen Dyck, Founder GORP Clean Energy Bar, Co-owner, Artel Farms, Niverville, Manitoba

The biggest mind shift that helped me when it came to resolutions is setting an incredibly low goal. Sounds counter-intuitive, but most farmers I know are used to having to-do lists longer than what’s possible in a day. If a goal seems out of reach before you start, the odds of completing it go way down.

My goal every morning is to put my runners on and walk for 10 minutes. Then I have full permission to quit. The thing is, after five minutes it’s easy to start running. After that, 10 minutes doesn’t seem so bad, and I might just do 30 or 60. Just wake up thinking, all I have to do is put on my runners – that’s it! But inevitably, more ends up happening. Farmers by nature tend to go the extra mile (so to speak). Creating the habit is the hardest part, but every time you step out the door you’re making it easier to do it again.

Make healthier choices

Adele Buettner, Founder and Principal, AgriBiz Communications Corp., Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

While modern agriculture has changed considerably over past years, the way to lose weight hasn’t: move more and eat better. Sounds easy, right? However, if it were, we wouldn’t be making the same resolution year after year.

Farmers, like everyone else, are busy. From family demands to business deadlines, there often isn’t much time to focus on oneself, which is a challenge. The good news is you don’t need a gym membership – just a pair of walking shoes and the desire to get healthier. Add a walk to your morning or evening routine, or perhaps both. As time progresses, simply expand your walk. Every new step you take helps.

Then, start making healthy food choices. Think first what you’re putting in your grocery cart, as that’s where good food choices begin. If healthy foods go into your cart, it will limit the temptation at home to make poor food choices. What healthy foods? Think of what Canadian farmers grow. If you stick to that, you’re taking steps in the right direction to meeting your resolutions.

Set realistic goals

Kim Waalderbos, Dairy farmer and farm writer, Upper Hainesville, New Brunswick

Know yourself.

What makes you tick? Make resolutions that consider your strengths and anticipate your weaknesses. If you know what’s likely to throw you off course, you can plan ahead to include a friend for accountability, or schedule tasks at a time when you have the most energy, or include reminders of what motivates you, or check off days on the calendar.

Be specific.

I’ve found it helps to identify what, when, where and how often I intend to do something. Like instead of resolving to eat healthier, I might resolve to choose one healthy snack each morning, or forgo the sweet treat at afternoon coffee break.

Be deliberate.

Schedule your resolution. Try to tie it to something you already do. For example, I have two strength exercises I do at chores each morning while waiting for my young calves to drink their milk. Sure, I look like a dork, but I haven’t forgotten since I tied it to this daily chore.  

Move in baby steps if you must. Ultimately, you’re investing in your physical and mental health – and that’s always a win. 

From an AgriSuccess article (January 2018).