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Natural Awakenings Metro Phoenix & Northern Arizona

A New Way to Approach Stubborn Changes: Looking at the big picture is an effective way to ensure your resolutions stick this year, guides Dr. Barrie Ann Zeller

Dec 31, 2012 10:56AM ● By Barrie Ann Zeller, NMD

It is the beginning of a New Year and time to make the yearly self-improvement resolutions. Where do you start? Most folks have health goals, which might include losing weight, exercising more and getting more sleep. They could include avoiding junk food and making more nutritious meals at home. All lofty goals, and some may succeed, but what stops the rest of us? Is it too much change?

Change can be difficult. We mostly are creatures of habit, and yet at the beginning of every New Year, we attempt to make changes with our New Year’s resolutions. We sit down and make a list of all the things we want to change. We tell ourselves that this year is going to be different and that we will check everything off our resolution list. However, when we look at all the things on our list, we feel overwhelmed and eventually, the list is neglected or thrown out. Instead of starting with a list, maybe we should begin by looking at the big picture.

Looking at the big picture might be as simple as pie. Picture your life as a whole pie with eight or more different slices. Each slice or segment helps us see which areas are doing well and which areas may need some attention. To be truly in balance or healthy, we have to factor in all parts of our life. Each slice of the pie above deals with a different part of our life. If the colored pie illustration here doesn’t depict all of the parts of your life, then make your own.

Start with a blank pie, as illustrated below. Add the main parts of your life in each segment. Then, starting to color in from the center out in each of the segments, how far would you get? For example, are you content with the amount of money you make, with little debt and savings for retirement? Then you may want to color in the entire money segment. If finances have been an issue for you, then you may want to color only a small piece of that segment closer to the center of the pie. If you are not having any fun and or spend little or no time doing enjoyable activities, then that segment might not be colored at all.

As you go through each segment, you begin to see what areas in your life may need extra attention this year. If a segment is not completely colored in, the pie is incomplete. No one bakes half a pie, so why are we living half a life? An incomplete pie shows a life out of balance. Could this be contributing to your state of health, as well? Of course it does.

We can usually correlate health concerns with the areas in our life that are not satisfactory. For example, work may be stressful, but it is paying the bills, and looking for a new job may not be the answer just now, so color in most of the career segment and maybe the money segment, too. What about other areas of your life, like personal growth, family and friends, and fun and recreation? Maybe you need to spend some time and attention in those areas to help reduce the stress from your job. Learning something new, playing sports or taking a yoga class may be just what you need. Perhaps it would be volunteering to help others and being mindful of all the blessings you do have. The point is to look at the whole picture/pie and to focus on the segments that have been neglected.

Once you have a better picture in mind, you can write resolutions that will increase your total well-being. It is amazing how much better we feel when our lives are full of people we love, activities that we enjoy and a plan for a whole pie.

Dr. Barrie Ann Zeller, of Zest Natural Medicine, 1405 N. Dobson Rd., Ste. 9, Chandler, can be reached at 480-361-5108 or

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