As we creep closer to February, how are your New Year’s resolutions looking? Still intact, things looking a bit shaky or a distant memory long forgotten? Over 50% of us decided to make a new year’s resolution, from losing weight, increasing your step count, improving your diet, dropping a dress size to changing jobs, working harder, stop drinking, to name a few. Amazingly, by February, 80% of these New Year’s resolutions have been abandoned, and the ‘old’ me has returned. But why? And importantly, what should you be doing now, as the novelty and motivation start to wane. Let our Head Nutritionist, Gareth Nicholas share some information and top tips about building habits that last; ones that create a lifestyle change and something that you can stick to.
Before we look at how we can create a road map for success, let us first look at the root cause of the problem. For many of us, the new year’s resolutions have been made because you want to make a change but are you really emotionally invested in making the change? Some of these resolutions are born from guilt. There you are, sat on the sofa watching Christmas movies having just consumed your body weight in turkey and all the trimmings, whilst teasing yourself with the chocolate index card deciding on which sugary treat is your next victim. All the while saying to yourself, “I better not have too many, the cheese board will be out in a bit.” As the end of the evening draws near and you’ve had to loosen that belt, you then have an epiphany and make the declaration, “Right that’s it! As of the new year, I’m going to eat better and lose weight.” Are you really?
Tip: Why not swap those sugary sweets for a protein bar, protein bites or protein dippers.
Don’t make a goal, make a change
It’s not that there’s anything wrong with the idea of losing weight and having that as a goal, but to make it a reality it’s about the process. How are you going to lose weight? There’s lots of advice and articles out there on goal-setting and the idea of goal-setting is exactly what we need, but start off with something a little less calculated. I can’t imagine that we are all sat around eating cheese and crackers and talking about the SMARTER principles in preparation for losing a few kilos. That said, these general principals are all valid considerations, but perhaps a bit too formulated and calculated for everyone. Losing weight is the goal, but not fully committing to ‘how are you going to lose weight’, leaves plenty of room for failure. I would urge you to use extrinsic motivators to help you stick to the plan. Declare your goal to friends, family, social media. This will help breed some additional accountability, particularly useful when the moments of weakness come knocking.
Tip: If it’s goal-setting you want, check out this article.
Rome wasn’t built in a day
Don’t do it all at once. It never lasts and has failure written all over it. The process to losing weight might well be to eat at calorie restricted diet, exercise more, stop drinking alcohol, eat less red meat, eat more vegetables, join a gym, stop eating chocolate, no take-aways etc etc. But let your list of changes build. Think of it a bit like levels in a computer game. Start with a simple change; once completed, move on and add another change and so on.
If you have a backwards step, don’t worry, unless this is the Squid Game, you’ve got another chance. Just regroup, evaluate what went wrong and move on. Perhaps write a list of levels, ideas or changes that you would like to implement. All of which will help you towards your goal. If it works for you, stick notes on the fridge, or perhaps go all out David Goggins (Author: Can’t Hurt me) and have an accountability mirror with post-it notes and a chance to talk to yourself; Or maybe just keep them in notes on your phone. Whatever works for you, that’s the key. Just don’t overdo it and give yourself a chance to succeed, remember the idea of declaring a goal or new year’s resolution, is to make a change. When that change concerns health and fitness, more often than not, that change is for life. Although the process is in levels, the game never actually ends. I’m sorry that sounds all very serious, but it’s true, you don’t just become fit and healthy, you are either fit and healthy or not.
Tips to turn that resolution into a revolution
According to the google dictionary, resolution is a firm decision to do or not to do something. The noun form of the verb, resolve. Basically saying, it’s a decision made to solve a problem, a time for change. It’s a bigger act than just doing something, it should be a commitment. Here are a few tips to help you see your resolution become reality:
- Be prepared for hard work – Change is never easy and the hard work always pays off. It’s about building manageable habits. Reward yourself for putting in the hard work but be realistic about what is achievable.
- Time – Your end goal needs to have a time stamp on it, but so should the time required in the process. Do you start with allotting a certain amount of time to the task each day? Going from training once a month to training every day is probably unrealistic, but having a goal of moving 30 mins every day, sounds more achievable.
- Priorities – It’s all a juggling act, you may have to give up something/s in order to create the time you need to work on your resolutions and build habits. It takes on average 66 days to build a lasting habit. Naturally ranking your goals and daily tasks will provide you with an order of priority. Give you a ‘how much do you care scale’.
- Enjoy the process not the goal – Undoubtedly the process of getting to your goal will take time. You have to find a way of getting some enjoyment out of the process. I’m not saying make it easier to enjoy it. Take weight loss as an example, carrying on eating and drinking badly, along with no exercise may seem enjoyable, but you’ve decided to change, therefore eating healthy and more exercise is the new you. Try and find ways to enjoy what at first might seem the unenjoyable. Try some new things: recipes, sports, exercise classes. Don’t forget the levels, start at level 1 and work up.
- Accountability – Letting the world know about your resolution gives you every chance to succeed and creates the right environment. Use your reasons behind making the changes to be your driving force. What is the consequences to failing in your actions? Do you allow yourself rewards for achieving daily or weekly goals?
- Do it for you – You have to be emotionally bought in to your resolution and goal. You are in charge, you are the determining factor for success or failure. It’s up to you, it’s your life. Be happy with your decisions, either good or bad. Of course, others can help and support. Maybe part of your decision to change is for someone else, but the number one reason for you making this change has to be because ‘you’ want to. You need to be emotionally invested in it. The come hell or high water approach.