Coming hot on the heels of the festive season, New Year’s always seems to come around in no time at all. Intended as a time of reflection and renewal, too many people get spontaneously caught up in the moment and make grand promises they know they will inevitably be unable to fulfil. However-don’t panic! New Year’s resolutions aren’t as overwhelming as they appear, but can change your life massively for the better. If you’ve committed to making 2017 the year in which you take better care of your body, then you’re not alone. Thousands of people everywhere are walking the same path, towards a fitter and healthier way of living by this time next year.
Why have we made a resolution?
At some stage or other in our lives, most people are conscious that they could do more to look after their health. Throughout the year, we somehow put those thoughts to the back of our minds, and do nothing about them. As the New Year approaches though, we have time off work for the festive period, and we start to look forward with optimism for the year ahead. That optimism gives us the impetus to set those goals, but to succeed we really need to plan a little on how to stick at it. According to research from YouGov, 63% of Brits on average make a resolution, but more than a third of these fail by the end of the month. Here’s some simple advice anyone can follow to make sure you stick with your goals until your happy with the way your body feels.
Resolving to eat healthily
Many resolutions to eat more healthily or to lose weight are driven by the excesses of the Christmas holidays. On average, we consume an astonishing 7,000 calories on Christmas Day, so it’s perhaps not all that surprising that come the New Year, gyms and health clubs are packed with new customers, determined to change their ways.
For many people who resolve to eat more healthily, January 1st will have come as something of a shock. The vast majority of people have no idea of their daily calorie intake, or how to understand food labels. Even the seemingly harmless everyday foods and drinks we enjoy such as coffee have a part to play and can be tweaked to help your health. Black coffee for instance contains only 3 calories a cup if you cut out the sugar, and it’s these little steps that will add up to success. With little or no planning or research into matters such as these, it’s not that surprising that so many of us fail in the first few days of our resolutions.
The NHS actually recommends breaking down your resolution into more manageable and more measurable chunks, to increase your chances of success. Planning ahead will give you time to research meal plans during your first few weeks minding what you eat, and to buy in any food you might need. Rather than setting unrealistic goals, it’s better to set smaller, more achievable goals. So, instead of resolving to lose a stone in a month, why not resolve to lose 1lb per week for 14 weeks? Having smaller goals with smaller timeframes will help you keep momentum and will give you a sense of achievement.
Aside from dieting, the other food-related resolution that many of us make is to eat more healthily and more cheaply. All too often, we fall into the trap of believing that supermarkets offer the cheapest and best food, when in fact this isn’t usually the case. By buying locally, from independent butchers, greengrocers or farm shops, you can buy fresh, seasonal produce in the quantities you actually need, rather than the pre-packed quantities that the supermarkets force us to buy. If you’re unconvinced, do your own field research and shop local for one week, to see the difference in quality and price. As well as sourcing fresher food at better prices, you’ll see the additional benefits of less food waste and reduced food miles, and you’ll be putting money into your local economy.
There’s somewhat of a misconception that exercise automatically means running for miles at a time or straining all of your muscles under ridiculously heavy weights. Whilst it is true that the super-fit amongst us will spend plenty of time in the gym this year, you don’t have to push yourself to the limits to feel the effects of exercise.
Even just getting off the sofa and onto your feet for a moderate period can have tremendous health benefits. Any kind of regular physical activity can help reduce the risks of various cancers, various mental health issues and prevent a whole host of other conditions whilst reducing the risk of early death by 30%.
As for what exercise to do, you don’t even need to break a sweat to feel these benefits. Walking for just 30 minutes a day is fantastic for burning off any heavy meals and can be done anytime and anywhere. For example if you’re heading to the local shops a few times a week, walking there and back will help your health, reduce your spending on petrol and cut your carbon footprint all at once.
But if it’s more of a challenge that you want, then exercise can play an integral part of your life. Indoors or outdoors, on your own or with others, you can have so much fun whilst changing your life. Group fitness programmes in particular are growing in popularity right now, with their emphasis on socialising just as much as on getting fit. Regardless of your existing level of fitness or ability, there’s definitely going to be something to meet your needs, and again research is your best friend for tracking these opportunities down.
Whatever resolutions you make this year, with a little forward planning and a clear strategy, you could dramatically increase your chances of success. Given time, what once seemed like a major change to your lifestyle will just become part of your routine. It’s also worth looking at your New Year’s resolution success as part of a wider picture. Following through with a resolution to eat more healthily and lose weight could see you taking up a new sport or hobby, getting out more and meeting new friends, for example. With luck, some solid planning and a little determination, your actions this January could kick-start a whole new you!
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