It's that time of year again. The beginning of a new year always brings resolutions and so often these are connected to health and fitness. Exercise more. Drink less booze. Give up chocolate
I am a passionate believer that diet and exercise have a direct impact on mental health and so I will always support anyone who wants to exercise more and eat well. But as 70% of us will have ditched our NYR like unwanted Christmas jumpers by the end of January, are we just setting ourselves up to fail? Isn't it just like saying 'I'll start my diet on Monday?'
Without doubt, I ate more mince pies than I should have done and drank way more red wine than the average human ever should on Christmas day. But when January 1st came round, I didn't need to give anything up or start anything new in terms of my health. I am always conscious of what I put into my body. I exercise 6 days a week because it makes me feel vital and means I can fit into my jeans. Sure that eased a little over Christmas week, but when January 1st came round, I just had to go back to old habits, not start new ones. And this got me thinking. Maybe we’re approaching all this New Year’s resolution stuff wrong. Instead of it being something sudden (I will drink all the wine I can until Dec 31st and then I’ll stop), strict (and never drink wine again) and unrealistic (and never drink wine again), we should approach any new behaviour with sustainability in mind.
So here are my top 5 tips to looking at your New Year’s resolutions in a way that will sustain you throughout the year:
Get over New Year
New Year's Day is just another day and that making a resolution on this day doesn’t differ from making a resolution on Saturday 9th March. Stop thinking of this time of year as a jumping off point, more a catalyst for change.
Think long term but chunk down
Longer term goals are great but chunk them down into obtainable targets so that you don't have unrealistic expectations and then give up too easily. Make the first goal super easy (like join a gym).
Go for lifestyle
Think carefully about why you want to form a new habit. Do you just want to lose 3 kilos so you fit into your old jeans or do you want sustainable health, reflected in your body image? Eating lettuce for 2 months isn’t sustainable, reducing your intake of processed foods 6 days a week is.
Focus on one change at a time.
Don’t go crazy! Giving up smoking, leaning a new language, losing weight, volunteering for the homeless, watching less TV and seeing your Mother more, can’t all happen in one week!
Use positive language. Always. Avoid words your teachers used to use like “should”. Replace it with “choose”. ‘I choose to go the gym because I value my body and feel amazing afterwards’ feels much better than ‘I should get up and go to the gym’. Life shouldn’t be a chore so watch how you’re taking to yourself.
And as always, get in touch if you need that little extra inspiration!