V i v i a n  S o n g
Freelance writer
Freelance writer
Happy green year

Toronto Sun, Sun Media papers, January, 2008.

Once the holiday fanfare subsides and gluttonous feasting has satiated voracious appetites, Canadians engage in the perennial habit of pledging self-improvement. A new year brings with it vows of abstinence, whether it be no more smoking, no more carbs, or no more senseless purchases of stiletto heels that gather dust in the back of closets, the bloom of their bejewelled beauty fading because they're too painful to wear.

But I digress.

Aside from the recurring diet resolution that tops most lists, this year, more Canadians are expected to add another kind of diet that will require reducing their intake of energy, oil and water and production of waste.

But how does one avoid the new year gym-drome -- gyms that start off in January with fiercely devoted, tiger-eyed dieters and which then peter out by spring?

"For most people, it's about high expectations," said Cathy Yost, a personal life coach and board member of the Calgary Association of Professional Coaches. "We put unrealistic expectations on ourselves rather than easing into it gently and cutting ourselves some slack." Another common mistake is to dwell on the what's being sacrificed in the process as opposed to what's being gained, Yost says.

For example, if a green resolution involves driving less, don't think about the inconvenience, but of the potential in getting to know people in an organized carpool, she adds.

"So many people fall into that trap of thinking they're giving something up. You have to set yourself up for success, not failure. You want to feel good about the decision or it becomes self-sabotage." If you fall off the wagon and end up binging on chocolate-covered duck fat or driving the two blocks to the store for your fourth pack of ciggies, don't throw in the organic towel yet, Yost advises.

"If you're on a diet and blow it one day, realize you enjoyed the foods, but that tomorrow will be different. Always reward yourself for your successes." It's also important to be surrounded by a supportive cheering section rather than naysayers, Yost said.

In that spirit, Green Planet offers a few gentle reminders and everyday tips on how to make 2008 a jolly green year. Now please pass the chocolate-covered duck fat.

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