Typically, most of us would have over indulged over the festive period. Naturally in the New Year, our attention turns to making changes to what we eat, to getting fit, or giving up bad habits.
We tell ourselves that this is the year that things are going to be different.
So, what happens in between that initial excited passion and enthusiasm, to when we go off the rails by the end of January? And how can we stop this happening?
1. Make sure your goals are realistic and sustainable.
When we make our mind up to lose weight, or get fitter, we usually focus on the end result rather than thinking of how we get there.
So lets’ say you decide that you want to lose 20 pounds and start going to the gym more regularly. Instead of going on a super restrictive diet and saying things like “I am cutting out all sugar/bread/sweets etc” think about what you could reduce. Lets’ face it, it’s unlikely that you will give chocolate up forever. Bbut maybe instead of a chocolate bar a day, you could have 1 or 2 per week?
As far as exercise goes, most people go from doing nothing to 5 exercises classes per week. Guess what? The combination of less food and more exercise will make you feel hungry, tired, and eventually pretty grumpy. This in turn will mean giving up.
So what should you do instead? Start slowly and build up. If you are sedentary now, just try and go for a walk every day. If you do go to the gym start off with twice per week then build up slowly. You are more likley to stick with this approach and long term you will get better results. And more importantly than anything, make sure if it fits with your normal life and is sustainable in the longer term.
2. A change for a change
If you are trying to break a habit, cold turkey works for some people. Once they decide, that’s it. But what if you are not one of those people? Well, you will need to rethink how you approach this. Rather than concentrating on the habit, try and think of the kind of person you want to be.
Keep visualizing what that looks like and next time you reach for that cigarette or whatever your poison is, ask yourself the question ” Does the future me do this?”. Create a new habit to replace the old one. So every time you reach for whatever you are trying to give up, have a strategy as to what you are doing instead. And make sure that the replacement habit is something that is good for you or makes you happy.
It’s been proven time and time again, that in order to be successful with changing old habits it to develop new ones. Research has shown that in order to make something a habit, you have to practice it every day on average for around 66 days.
3. Create some accountability.
Tell friends, family and work mates what you are doing. Ask for their help. Don’t be afraid to tell people what you are trying to do. And if they dont support you, avoid those that are looking to sabotage your efforts.
You could also get a friend or your partner to check in with you every week, and buddying up is great idea so you are accountable to each other.
4. Don’t be too hard on yourself
If you goals are related to fitness & nutrition (as most are) remember this will not be as easy in midlife & beyond. Not only have you had longer to establish bad habits, but your body is also different to when you were in your 20’s or even 30’s.
Your metabolism is slower, your hormones are more erratic, you may have injuries or medical conditions that slow you down, or you might just have stress in your life that you never used to. All these things are genuinely going to mean that you need to take a slightly different approach to health and fitness, than you might have in your younger years.
We believe that living a healthier life is all about making small gradual changes, over the longer term. Making a plan, working to a structure and making yourself accountable to a third party.
So taking a gentler approach and being a bit kinder to yourself is far more likely to give you the results you want, rather than jumping in at the deep end and failing miserably after a couple of weeks.
So what are you going to choose in 2020?
We would love to know what your resolutions are – please post them in the Facebook Group so our community can support you!
Wayne is a Nutrition coach & Personal Trainer specialising in the over 40's age group. Wayne also runs The Next 40-Mantor Project, an all male group helping men to alleviate stress and take control of their masculinity. www.thenext40.co.uk
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