So it’s the New Year which means resolution time! Hands up if you’ve resolved to lose weight, stop eating junk food, cut the alcohol, hit the gym every day etc… I’m sure most of us have in some way. It’s a good thing in many ways, taking the opportunity that a new year brings to start something new or change a habit is brilliant but how many times have we made these grand resolutions only to forget them a few weeks later? How many years has this been THE year that we get fit, eat healthy, lose weight, change our lives…? How many times have we started January all guns blazing only to retreat back into our safe caves of bad habits by the end of February leaving us feeling unmotivated, frustrated and like failures?
So how can you make sure that this year really is THE year? Well here are a few tips (whatever the resolution is):
#1 Think small
Yep – think small! There’s nothing wrong with having a big goal but try to break your big resolution down into smaller bite size goals. So for example – instead of resolving to eat more healthily and not touch any more junk food, why not instead resolve to have some veggies with every meal, cut out your afternoon chocolate bar, and try replacing starchy carbs with quinoa and sweet potato? Three small, easy to achieve steps which you can stick to and will make you eat more healthily. Instead of resolving to ‘get fit’ – pick three days a week and choose three classes to go to at your local gym, or resolve to be active for at least 20 mins a day – that could be a walk, it could be a full workout – whatever. So think small and you’re more likely to actually do it.
#2 Easy tiger
You don’t need to dive headlong in to your new regime – just because it’s the first week of January doesn’t mean you need to do 10 gym classes, drink 3 litres of water a day, and live on salad. Give yourself a chance – take baby steps and just make some small changes each week – so you might start by taking a packed lunch to work each day to avoid the canteen fry up, then in a week or so you can start to add that extra gym class in, then focus on drinking your 3 litres of water a day the next week etc etc. It’s natural to want to do everything at once – we all do, but go too hard too fast and you will burn out, so pace yourself and be kind to yourself. You want this to be a lifestyle change right? So take your time and then you’ll find that not only will you stick to it but it won’t seem half as hard.
#3 Be flexible and recognise your limitations
There is no point setting yourself a resolution to never eat junk food or takeaways again when we all know that in reality no matter how ‘good’ we want to be or how motivated we are sometimes life gets in the way- the oven may break, the kids may be ill, you may be out with the kids somewhere with limited food options, your boss drops a late afternoon meeting on you and you can’t get to your spin class, you have to visit your aunt in hospital over lunch and are stuck with hospital canteen food.
So make your resolutions flexible – just like life. I’m not suggesting you give yourself excuses not to stick to your resolution but just be realistic and kind to yourself and set resolutions within the framework of your life. There will be children’s parties, your time may get taken away by work or family, you may be stuck places with few healthy good options. That’s ok. Just plan for it. So you can’t get to the gym because the children are ill but maybe, just maybe, you can do something active at home while you’re looking after them – even if it’s only running up and down the stars ten times, or leaping around the kitchen to the radio, or maybe a few push ups on the bedroom floor. And when you’re stuck somewhere with limited food options – don’t just say f**k it and eat rubbish, just make the best choice you can from what’s available and then run extra fast up and down those stairs on the way out to use up a few extra calories, or if you’ve had to go in to work when you planned to go to the gym then park the car further away so you have to walk further or jog to get there. When life goes to plan then brilliant, you can meal prep for the week, you can get to all your gym classes and life’s good, but those little unexpected blips aren’t going to throw you completely off track this time – because you’ve planned for them, you’re being flexible and you’re just dealing with life – real life.
#4 Be consistent
Woah – hang on – you’ve just told me to be flexible but now you’re telling me I’ve got to be consistent too…? Well yes, I’m not saying you need to do those exact three workouts every week or you will fail and there’s no point even starting… I’m saying – just be consistent with your approach to this. Make the resolution a habit, stick to it as much as possible and when you can’t stick to it because life gets in the way then go for plan B (as I talked about above) and stick to the essence of it. Consistency is key. Psychological research has shown it takes anything from 21 – 66 days to form a new habit so if you want these habits to stick then try them for at least 2 months if you can.
#5 Make it fun
Try not to see resolutions as a chore – it’s not going to help you stick to them. Make it fun – find something exciting to go and do at the gym that will motivate you to go, dance around your living room for your 20 mins of active time, make your healthy meals into amusing animal shapes (ah.. am I the only one that does that…. ), turn it in to a game by using a reward chart and stickers (yes even for adults), go and do something active as a family. Whatever floats your boat!
#6 Check in with yourself each morning
Start your day as you mean to go on. When you wake up just take a moment to think about whatever resolution you’re focusing on that week and remind yourself why you’re doing it. Have it written down by the bed, or set it as a reminder on your phone. That little nudge in the morning will help you to stay on track each day.
So there you go – a few tips to help keep you on track. If you’re struggling for resolutions here are few of my faves – pick a few and see how you go:
– Eat protein for breakfast every day
– Eat dinner at the table
– Exercise wherever and whenever – even if only for a few mins – it’s better than nothing (in fact, get off that chair right now and just move about!)
– Try a new food each week – pick a vegetable you’ve never had each week and try it! Get the family involved in choosing them.
– Walk up the stairs whenever you can
– Park further away
– Try something new – anything at all!
– Spend 10 mins a day meditating (there’s a great app to help you with this called headspace – do check it out)
– Cook a home cooked meal for dinner whenever you can
– Take a packed lunch to work – one you’re looking forward to eating – so make it exciting (stuck for ideas – check out the Pure Form Fitness Kitchen site)!
Remember – all you need to do is aim to be a little better, not perfect, and you will start to see changes!
Happy New Year everyone – may your year be fun, healthy and happy
Please remember, I am not a medical Dr and even if I was the medical and/or nutritional information on this site is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your GP or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking it because of something you have read on this site.