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New Year’s Resolutions—How to Set Yourself up for Success

Saturday, January 3rd, 2015

Oral and total body health

Each New Year’s, one out of every two of us will make New Year’s resolutions. (Sources: Psychology Today and Journal of Clinical Psychology.) According to researchers, usually the first two weeks of starting any new new at this time of year, goes pretty smoothly.

Then, after just four weeks—by February—people start so slip, and old habits start to creep back in.

Maybe it is quitting smoking, eating healthier foods, starting to floss regularly, losing weight, or starting to exercise. Whatever the change in behavior may be, how come it can be so difficult to keep our resolutions?

1. We actually aren’t intrinsically motivated to change our behaviors. 

Professor of Psychology Timothy Pychyl explains how sometimes, resolutions are a bit of cultural procrastination. In certain situations, he argues that we make a resolution to show that we are committed to changing certain behaviors. In reality, we don’t yet have the real, intrinsic motivation required for long-term change.

In other words, Pychyl asserts that we create a resolution to motivate ourselves, instead of being motivated, and then changing our behaviors as a result. With a real lack of motivation at the core of our intentions, we end up failing to break our habits.

2. We set unrealistic goals or expectations.

Another concept for why we can fail to keep resolutions has been deemed the false hope syndrome. Psychology professor Peter Herman and colleagues assert that we make goals that can be greatly out of alignment with our real view of ourselves. In some cases, the resolution just may be significantly unrealistic.

In the end, making a goal that we can only hope for doesn’t mean we give ourselves a chance to really change our ingrained habits.

So what should we do to fight these two common traps people often fall into? 

First, be realistic with your goals. If you aren’t exercising at all, don’t expect yourself to be able to exercise 5 days a week. Also, set yourself up for decision-making so you can ease yourself into making the right choices each day.

For example, if you are giving up soda, perhaps gradually give it up, instead of going “cold turkey.”

Have a friend or colleague help you set goals that can be accurate, and that can be adjusted over time as you incrementally find success. Remember that the more you believe you can effect and maintain change, the more success you are likely to have, a concept that’s backed by science.

Next, be sure to choose a resolution you truly find value in.

If you aren’t ready to start eating vegetables every day, it’s going to be hard to maintain change over time.  Consider writing down all the underlying reasons why you want to change a certain aspect of your life, and that can help narrow down a worthy behavior change.

Start preparing, and then acting on, your intentions.

Approach any resolution as a process. Just like your oral hygiene and other health-related habits, habits and our resulting sustainable lifestyle choices are what we do over time. One day off, or one day without a certain activity, doesn’t “make or break” our routine. By seeing our resolution as a process of change, we are better able to enter the actual “action” stage that comes with so many of our resolutions.

Ready to have better oral hygiene this year? Give us a call today.

Other Sources

Easter Baskets That We Can Approve Of!

Sunday, April 6th, 2014

Americans will eat more than 700 million marshmallow Peeps and bunnies this Easter!

In fact at Easter time, the marshmallow treats will actually outsell jelly beans.

preparing for easter.jpg

This year for Easter, we thought we’d go over some of the better choices for treats to eat while celebrating Easter, as well as some explanation as to why these are actually better for your health.

First, let’s take a brief look at some of the not-so-great treat choices.

The sticky, hard kind of candy quite literally sticks to our teeth. This also means they stay suck to all the crevices and grooves we have in our teeth, which happen to be the places where we are most likely to get decay and plaque buildup. Just imagine the acid and sugar are “sitting” on your teeth when you eat these hard candies…

Beyond sticky candy such as taffy, candy that is filled with caramel or coconut, or any other fillings, are also bad for the teeth. A good rule of thumb to consider is that the longer the food can stick to your teeth, the longer the bacteria can feed on it.

Hard candies can also be a problem since we end up sucking on them. Again, we are exposing ourselves to the acid and sugar for longer periods of time.

So What Can I Do For Some Substitutes?

Here’s an excuse to reach for that chocolate bunny: the chocolate (without those fillings!) is not going to stick to your teeth as much. While eaten in excess it surely isn’t good for your teeth either, it’s an option that you might say is better than some of the others!

Consider other “treats” altogether.

You can also consider other sweet or delicious things to cater to your sweet tooth without all the negative effects on your teeth. For example, what about a cheese plate for the family to share? Cheese can actually work to protect your enamel and keep away the bad bacteria!

Another fun treat can be to eat a few hard-boiled eggs, and the whole family can help make them if you make deviled eggs. Many of us are dying them for an Easter activity, so why not eat an egg or two while we are at it?

In general, in the baked goods we eat at this time of year, you can also look to substitute whole-wheat flour for the standard flour.

How come, and why is this a good move for your teeth? White flour quickly breaks down into simple sugar. In fact, this process occurs while the food is still in your mouth. And, as you probably guessed, bacteria in your mouth feast on this sugar! Then what we see is that acid is produced and in turn, works at breaking down your enamel…On the other hand, whole wheat flour does not produce simple sugar as quickly as white flour does.

Another way to get rid of some of the processed sugar in your diet is select Greek yogurts, (unsweetened) applesauce, bananas or even things like prunes to add the sweetening without the processed sugar. If it fits your diet, look for recipes that use these ingredients instead of just refined sugar.

Another option is to consider choosing candies with Xylitol if you can find them. Assuming you do not have any sensitivity to Xylitol, these candies do not have the sugar that leads to cavities!

“Well, I’m going to eat a few candies this Easter, even if it isn’t ideal…”

You may be saying that you are still going to have a Peep or two, and that’s fine!

At least wait an hour before you brush your teeth after you devour all that candy in your Easter basket this year! That may seem counterintuitive, but that’s because the acid is sitting on your teeth, and you actually could worsen the harmful effects by brushing the acid onto your teeth when you brush.

So instead of reaching for the brush immediately, a simple and effective way to clean your teeth after you sit down for a few Peeps this year is “swishing” your mouth out with water. This helps flush out the acid and sugar.

Don’t be afraid to try something new and give a few dental products in your Easter basket this year. Yes, candy can be eaten, but we can also take care of ourselves so that we have a great smile for years to come!