New year, new you? That’s right, New Year’s Resolutions are back in season!
Do you have the same resolutions most years? Lose weight, drink less alcohol, drink more water, go to the gym, [insert your own list here].
Yet it’s so hard to keep them. January might start out with you pounding the streets in your new running gear, but those Wednesday night runs soon get replaced with cocktails with the girls; oops and there goes the drink less resolution too!
You’re not alone
Research suggests only 8% of us keep our new year’s resolutions. Why do they usually fail? Because we make a big list of things we want to change about ourselves and try to do them all at once. That might be ok for a day or two, but then real life kicks in and we’re not mentally prepared to not reach for the chocolate bar when our boss gives us a hard time. If you had gone into the ‘eat less chocolate’ resolution with a plan, understanding your triggers, and having an alternative at hand, such some nuts in your drawer, or taking yourself off for a couple of minutes of deep breathing, you may have done better.
Ditch the big list
Let’s be honest, the big list thing probably won’t work. I would suggest it’s better to pick one thing to focus on at a time, plan for it, and work on it for a month. At the end of that month, if it’s working out for you then great, keep it in your life, and then pick up something else. Within a month, chances are that you’re new ‘thing’ will have become a habit, and it will be easy to maintain it as you tackle the next thing on your list. Not only that, you may be feeling better for it; certainly if it’s health-related you may have a clearer head, your skin may have a new glow to it, your jeans might fit better, or you may have more energy. These are all positive signals that you’re doing something good for yourself and your body, and it can help propel you forward and encourage you to keep going.
So what should your new year’s resolutions be?
Of course that’s personal and entirely up to you. However, as a health coach I see the same issues affecting people all of the time. These are the areas of our health, that if we get them right, will bring our bodies and minds into balance, make us feel consistently good, increase our longevity and make us look pretty good too.
What are the common issues?
If I had a magic wand, the list below is what I would magic into the lives of people who are struggling to find their balance. Some of the items on it may seem obvious, or too simplistic, like eat more vegetables. Yet, more people than not tell me they don’t eat vegetables, some asking if chips count! Eating vegetables is one of the best things we can do for our health, so keep an open mind and let’s get into the magic list.
- Eat more fruit and vegetables
- Drink more water *
- Drink less coffee
- Drink less alcohol
- Stop drinking fizzy drinks
- Stop smoking
- Meditate or at least practice deep breathing every day
- Look after your gut health *
- Practice home cooking
- Enjoy regular physical activity *
- Eat fewer processed foods
- Eat less gluten *
- Consume less dairy
- Prioritise self-care
- Develop a spiritual practice
- Practice gratitude
- Find work that you love
- Prioritise sleep *
- Go organic, as much as possible
- Get your finances in order
- Have a digital detox
- Eat less meat and more plant-based foods
*Blogs already available (see below)
That’s it. Some items on this list won’t apply to you. You may already drink at least two litres of water a day, or never touch coffee, or always have a good night’s sleep. That’s great. But, all of this is inter-related. If you are always on your digital devices, even in bed, you won’t sleep so well. That will have an impact on the following day and may result in you making less than healthy food choices. As you feel sluggish from what you ate, you may pass up on exercise that evening, and so the vicious cycle begins.
But trying to incorporate all of this in one go will result in overwhelm and giving up. So pick one thing, research it and commit to implement it for one month. I’ll add some blogs on each of these topics over the coming weeks, looking at some of the science and giving you tips on how to get these great habits into your life. To get you started for January, here are links to some existing blogs that I’ve written that may help, including:
- Drink more water / Blog: Water, it does the body good
- Enjoy regular physical exercise / Blog: A NEAT exercise for people who don’t exercise
- Prioritise sleep / How to get a good night’s sleep
- Eat less gluten / Getting started with going gluten-free
- Look after you gut-health / Various
All that leaves me to say is Happy New Year!