Have you ever kept a New Year’s Resolution? If so, do you know why you succeeded? If not, why do you think you couldn't stick to it? There are many reasons of course why we fail at making a lasting change. Things like, the goal was too big, or you didn’t break it down into smaller steps, you might have given up after the first setback, or they were simply unrealistic. When we don’t keep New Year’s Resolutions, there is often a sense of failure and frustration. It’s time that we reframe the way we think about them. Instead of making resolutions for major character or lifestyle changes, let’s reflect on our behaviour in the year that was and resolve to make positive lifestyle changes. Resolutions such as; losing weight, being healthier, or reducing stress are too broad and vague. If you can set some small attainable goals for the year you will achieve them, such as, lose one dress size in 3 months, include veggies in every meal or enrol in a meditation course. Small changes can have a big impact on your life. As psychologist Lynn Bufka, PhD says; “Remember, it is not the extent of the change that matters, but rather the act of recognizing that lifestyle change is important and working toward it, one step at a time.” Therefore, the first step in setting a resolution that you will actually stick to is making it REALISTIC. You need something to focus on every day, like changing behaviour.
Here are some simple steps to help you achieve your realistic goals:
- Start small and write them down: For example, if your resolution is to lose weight, start by replacing unhealthy snacks with a handful of trail mix, reduce your portion size or include more fresh veggies with each meal. Write down you goals and put them where you can see them, fridge mirror etc.
- Change one behaviour at a time: Bad habits don’t form over night, so replacing them with healthy ones will also take time e.g. if your resolution is to get fitter, then book two sessions a week at the gym, or commit to two long walks per week, then build it up.
- Keep track of what you do and what you don’t do: Self-monitoring is powerful, it makes you more mindful and you feel a sense of achievement when you accomplish something. It also helps you identify the triggers for your behaviour e.g. what triggers a bad food choice, stress? loneliness? sadness?
- Reward yourself for each step forward (no matter how small): Give yourself credit for every positive behavioural change. It can simply be a verbal pat on the back, or you could reward yourself with a nice outing or a long lazy bath.
- Don’t beat yourself up: On the flipside of rewarding, is not punishing yourself if you slip up; THEY WILL OCCUR. It’s normal, so you had a chocolate bar or skipped exercise for the day, or had a ciggie, no worries, tomorrow is a new day start again.
- Talk to friends or family: Share what you are going through with friends or family, they will be encouraging. You may even get them to go along to the gym, or a new class or course, strength in numbers!
If you don’t usually make a resolution or you need some help, we have a few suggestions for realistic goals.
- Take the stairs instead of the lift
- Wear a pedometer
- Take a walk at lunchtime
- Commit to a short term fitness course like a 5 week boot camp
- Commit to a colourful plate – include more veggies with your meal
- Cut down on take-away
- Keep hydrated – drinking more water helps you feel fuller
- Swap unhealthy snacks for high protein ones with more nutrition
- Keep a food diary and see where you can cut back on calories
- Reduce portion size
- Drink more tea – it is detoxifying and gives you a brighter-looking skin complexion
- Practice yoga – even if it is just for 10 minutes a day
- Enrol in a meditation course
- Take 20 – 30 minutes just for yourself every day, sit down with a book or go for a walk
- Learn some relaxing yogic pranayama (breathing techniques)
- Plan your weekends so you have time to relax and recharge the batteries
- Keep screens out of the bedroom – no laptops, TVs, tablets or phone in bed
- Check out some yoga nidra recordings
- Guided meditation
- Go to bed at the same time each night and get up at the same time each day
- Don’t drink coffee after midday
Finally, there are a few simple things you can practice every day to bring some joy into your life (and others):
- Be more positive -Focus on the good things during the day and write them down or write out positive affirmations, stick them on your mirror and say them when you are in the bathroom
- Find a new hobby – Take up volunteering or a new sport or join a community group
- Learn something new – Keep the brain young by learning a new skill, you can enrol in a course or do one online or find some YouTube tutorials
- Spread kindness –Smile at a stranger, ring a friend for no reason, or let someone ahead of you in the queue. It’s the little things that bring joy to yourself and others
- Be grateful –Appreciating what you have or where you at in your life brings on feelings of contentment
We hope this blog arms you with some tools to set you up for success in the New Year.
Good Luck from all of us here at WW!
Western Wellness Team
(Your friendly neighbourhood yogis)