So, you’ve managed to get through Christmas without burning the turkey or rowing with anyone over Monopoly. You’ve recycled the wrapping paper and the advent calendar and eaten all the festive leftovers in the fridge. 2021 is done and dusted, and like many, your thoughts turn to the New Year and changes you want to make to your routine. Maybe you’re conscious of bad eating habits that have crept in over the last year, or you’re keen to update your exercise regime.
However, did you know that a massive 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail?
Resolutions are notoriously hard to commit to for the following reasons:
- Making a lasting behavioural change requires a concrete shift in mindset
- You may put too much pressure on yourself
- You may expect results too quickly
Think about framing the resolution in a positive and less pressured way. Instead of a set of defined outcomes, think of your resolutions as a set of intentions to be kinder to yourself and to put your needs first.
If you’re starting a new exercise programme, remember it takes on average 66 days for a new habit to become ingrained, so start slow and pace yourself. Remember it’s not a race (unless you’re training for a marathon!) and in the early days you are likely to be more prone to injury. It will take time for your muscles and tendons to acclimatise, and you need to give your body a chance to rest and rebuild in between sessions.
So here are 5 ways of putting your health and wellbeing first without sabotaging longer-term progress:
1. Practising regular mindfulness can help you become aware of any self-sabotaging behaviour. It can also help you to become more aware of your motivation. In mindfulness you learn to be more accepting of your feelings without judgment. The book Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Finding Peace in a Frantic World by Danny Penman and Mark Williams is a good place to start.
2. If you start an exercise programme, make sure you are practising self-care for your muscles, joints, and fascia. Soaking in magnesium bath flakes directly after exercise is a great idea as it loosens tightness and soothes inflammation. Or you can use a sports cream with magnesium especially formulated for post-exercise care, such as our Cooling Massage Lotion with therapeutic menthol and arnica to ease tension and stiffness.
3. When you’re trying to establish new habits it’s all about taking baby steps. Fitness shouldn’t be a boring slog; it helps to make changes fun, so why not ask a friend with similar goals to join you and do something different? Find out what’s on in your area: it could be hula hooping, roller skating, even skateboarding!
4. If you want to change your diet, think about realistic changes you can make that won’t add hours in the kitchen and make you give up in frustration. Make one change at a time and monitor it to see how you feel. For example, you don’t need to give up carbs altogether to have more energy, maybe it’s just the bread that makes you feel sluggish and bloated. If you struggle with a chocolate addiction, don’t go cold turkey. Swap the chocolate for a healthy date and nut bar; these days there are lots of low-sugar, plant-based options.
5. Don’t forget that healthy eating is as much about what you add in as what you take away: for example, adding things like brown rice, legumes and bean pasta to meals represents a small increase in calories but makes a big difference in helping you feel fuller for longer, meaning you’re less likely to snack on ultra-processed foods.
Most importantly, be kind to yourself, and recognise that if you want your healthy New Year’s resolutions to stick around longer than the paper they’re written on, you need to want to change. If you fall off the wagon, don’t worry; just get up and give it another go. Consistency is key!