So it’s all over: the craziness that is Christmas and New Year. Life has been full of people, food, drink, sharing and stressing. And now it’s just you and your New Year Resolutions, face to face, staring skeptically at each other!
‘Lose weight’, ‘exercise more’, ‘get healthier’ seem pretty achievable initially but re-wiring the brain and exercising self-control needs more than just will-power. We need a whole load of strategies in place to succeed in sustaining our behaviours long-term.
The good news is that if you are serious about making a change and have been thinking about it for some time, New Year is actually a great time to start. You need to strengthen your resolve now and get down to the serious, pretty-damn-hard and not to mention often tedious job of establishing some healthy habits. Here is some food for thought to help you along:
1.IT’S ALL IN THE Rs
Bad habits gained over a long period are pretty deeply-ingrained and notoriously hard to change. To prevent your resolve weakening and fading into the hullaballoo of life put a few more New Year Resolutions review dates in your diary. Review your goals every 3 or 4 months for improving your chances of success. I like to do it as the school term begins,as everything feels like a fresh start after a long holiday! All you need to do is put a reminder in the diary to think about what you promised yourself at the beginning of the year. Then Reflect, Renew and Recommit. Adopt a new strategy if necessary and action!
This is difficult because it’s tedious. There is often an urgency to our desires to change our lives but you have to be patient with yourself and focus on the lon-term picture. Strive for persistence not perfection.
- Break down your long term goal (I want to get fit) into teeny weeny mini-goals (walk 15minutes during my lunch break Monday, Wednesday and Friday)
- Once that becomes habit (easy, automatic, unmissable!!) then build gradually up (walk 15minutes 5days a week during lunch break)
- Slowly add on (15minutes/5days a week + get up early Saturday and walk around the block/park/track for 30minutes)
- As you get fitter, add more ( add 6 walk/jog intervals to the Saturday morning walk, increasing the jog time as it gets easier)
Basically you want to make each micro-change habitual and embed them into your life so that the next change doesn’t seem like a chore at all. Suddenly your goals are acheivable and realistic.You begin to believe you can actually do it and that is half the battle.
Make your life easier by adjusting your routine, modify and fine-tune your day to push you towards making the right choices.
- Keep your trainers, hat, gloves, jacket by the door ready for your morning walk
- Do you need music to motivate you? Is your playlist ready on the IPod
- Keep dumbbells by the sofa to remind you to move during the TV ads
- De-junk the kitchen
- Have an emergency Healthy Snack Cupboard
- Cut some fruit and veg and leave it out on the kitchen surface for the day…good for nibbles
- Research menus, plan shopping lists and meals in advance
- Park your car in the furthest spot possible
- Calculate how many calories you burn by taking the stairs at work then TAKE THE STAIRS
- Set an alarm for every 30minutes to remind you to stand up from your desk and stretch it out
- The list goes on…
It’s basically all in the planning, so PLAN! PLAN! PLAN! And document it, write it down then do it, then do it again, and again and just keep doing it! Habits take time to form, think months not weeks and just keep at it.
4.BE KIND TO YOURSELF
Manage your expectations. Can you really achieve that tiny waist and thigh gap you see in selfies all over Twitter? That requires either good genes, youth, a certain amount of self-obsession or a combination of all three! Give yourself a break, you have a life, kids, a career, and soft curves. Is a thigh gap really going to enhance your life? Be proud of your amazing body and re-adjust your goals.Focus on health and how you feel rather than asthetics.
Seek support. Anything that helps you; a friend to accompany you,family, music, online motivation, group classes, personal trainers.
And be kind when you slip-up and fall of the path. Allow yourself the occasional setback and use it to strengthen your resolve. Don’t focus of the negatives. Instead consider what you have acheived, how hard you have worked and get back on track asap.
5.THE WHOLE PACKAGE
It’s important to realise that your goal has to fit into the great, big, complicated thing that is YOUR LIFE!
Pay attention to the other important cornerstones of health. Each intertwines and affects the other. For example, it will be near impossible to lose weight if you are overly stressed and sleeping badly. Always keep an eye on these 5 things
- Sleep enough
- Eat plenty of unprocessed food, cook your own food
- Hydrate with water, green tea, fruit teas, coconut water, milk
- Learn to de-stress. Manage your stress levels daily with whatever works for you . Explore meditaion, walking,swimming, mindfulness,music, poetry, art and use it. Daily. Even if just for 5 minutes.
- Compassion for others. Health is not a selfish pursuit and if you find that all you have time to do is “get fit” then something is wrong. Make time to do good, to be part of a social network (not virtual) and to help others. Little acts of kindness everyday are pretty easy when you put your mind to it but let’s be honest, it’s even easier to allow yourself to get swept up in the selfishness of the rat-race.
Good luck with your resolutions. I always feel it’s better to give it a try at least and if it only lasts half the year, well thats better than nowt!
And surely its better to try and fail than to fail to even try! Here’s to a Happy year ahead full of many health habits!