Hello 2021! A new year is always seen as a fresh start, the term ‘New Year, New Me’ gets thrown around a lot and we all start making resolutions and goals for the next year. After the festive period we commit to ‘Dry January’, ‘De-chox’, ‘Veganuary’, starting a new ‘diet’, sometimes with an air of positivity and sometimes in a bid to feel healthier or hit a weight loss goal. How many resolutions or goals have you set over the last decade? And how many have been realistic enough for you to stick to the whole year? That’s the thing with setting ourselves such high expectations, we always want to be improving something about ourselves and not taking it slow, we all dive head first into the deep end and start feeling overwhelmed and unhappy.
January is the month that drags on longer than it should, we’re all clock watching waiting for the days to get lighter and the month to end so we can move on. If you set yourself the goal of not having something for the month, then as soon as we hit midnight and welcome in February, releasing the chains, we then run straight to the fridge or cupboard and inhale all the chocolate stashed away and are sat with a bottle of wine in each hand.
It doesn’t have to be this way…
Through behaviour science, we see how humans want everything to be easy for ourselves, and setting these new year resolutions are not that! Instead of setting BIG goals at the beginning of the year, why not break them down into smaller goals throughout the year. Make it easy for yourself! If you want to reduce your alcohol consumption, then set goals like ‘I’ll only have 2 drinks on a Friday and Saturday evening’. If you want to control your chocolate, sweet or treat consumption, portion out your food before you eat it and take some time away from screens and distractions so you can really take the time to enjoy and take in the taste and flavour of the food.
For things like wanting to eat healthier or reduce consumption of animal products, think of small changes to suit your lifestyle; switch milk to an alternative, try to have 1 meat-free day a week, try to replace animal products with beans, pulses or alternatives, aim for 3 of your 5-a-day at least 4 times a week. Then, slowly you can start to build these over the coming weeks and months.
This way of making changes is far more realistic and sustainable for the long term. You’re more likely to stick to these changes as you made it easier for yourself! And, you will be able to enjoy the changes you make, seeing how far you have come over the year and have that sense of achievement.
When it comes to exercise, January is always the time we are wanting to lose weight, feel fitter and sign up to all these challenges online. Fitness is not everyone’s cup of tea and can feel like a chore that you try to avoid for as long as possible through the day. Again, it’s important to make a goal that is realistic and finding something you enjoy. Take some time to think about what you like to do and how you can fit it in with your lifestyle. Getting 30 minutes of exercise every day is recommended, this could be anything from walking to running, yoga to weight lifting, Zumba to boxercise. Start off slow, do it a few times a week, and slowly build up to get that 5 days a week of exercise in – mix it up so you don’t get bored! Find what makes you feel good and you look forward to doing!
There is no such thing as the perfect way of doing things. But, when we make changes for a positive reason, we want to make sure we can stick to it in a sustainable way so we don’t feel restricted, overwhelmed, or put off wanting to ever try to be ‘healthy’ again. Goals can be made any time in the year.
Taking some time to think about what you are wanting to do is always important, by breaking it down by how you can start and the small changes or steps that will work for you, making it feel easy. Jot it down, make a chart for your wall, scribble on your whiteboard, make a spreadsheet; whatever works for you.
Just remember to be kind to yourself, as you want to be achieving these goals for a positive reason and have a positive outcome. In the current circumstances, we should all be being kinder to ourselves, which means it’s okay to have the little things (like that choccy biscuit with your cuppa) that helps you get through the day.
- Make small changes
- Make it easy for yourself
- Make it sustainable for the long term
You got this!
Article by Stephanie Hayes ANutr. For more motivation and nutritional advice, visit Steph’s webpage https://www.instagram.com/steph.nutrition/