New Year’s Resolutions
New Year’s may mean a lot of things to a lot of different people, but to most it means a fresh start. A chance to tackle that thing they’ve been putting off, or perhaps take a step in another direction altogether. These ideas often come in the form of New Year’s Resolutions.
In 2019, 48% of people said they wanted to lose weight, 59% said they wanted to exercise more, and 54% said they wanted to eat healthier. If you’re one of many people who want to improve your health, then you’re not alone.
If this phrase fills you with dread, then it might be likely you’ve decided something restrictive and unrealistic for yourself for the New Year, and perhaps set yourself up for failure in doing so.
Here’s our best strategies to not fall off the bandwagon within the first month, like the 75% of people that unfortunately do!
Set actual goals. Not unrealistic resolutions. For a scientifically supported, step-by-step process of setting realistic goals, have a look at this.
Don’t just think about the outcome you want, focus on the positive steps it’ll take to get there. Instead of being driven by one metric of success, you should write down a list of the behaviour changes you’ll be undertaking. For example, if you are aiming to lose weight, try changing the focus to the healthy behaviours that it’ll take to achieve your goal. For example, increasing your physical activity to a certain number of sessions per week to improve your cardiovascular health, or getting your recommended five serves of vegetables per day.
Accumulate lots of small good habits over time that correspond with your goal. If your goal is to be healthier, start taking the stairs instead of the lift, start making morning exercise your habit, or start meal-planning ahead of time. There’s some great resources to help you get started right here.
Get an accountability buddy. It might be your partner, best friend, or a work colleague to keep you on track with your goals. Team up and commit to each other to exercise together, take turns making healthy treats for work lunches, or remind one another of your commitments when you’re not feeling so motivated.
Now that we’ve covered some top behavioural tips that will help you shape your environment for success, let’s look at some helpful strategies to achieve that weight loss goal that you’re going for!
- Try keeping a food diary. Writing down what you’ve eaten helps you be mindful and enjoy your meals and snacks rather than eating on the go.
- Limit added sugars in your diet to only a few serves per week (or what might be achievable for you). These are usually fairly obvious foods, things such as processed sweets, cakes, chocolate, biscuits, soft drinks and juices.
- Be mindful of the calories in alcoholic beverages. Wine, beers and cocktails add up substantially over a long dinner and can vary from 150-500 calories per drink! Try to pick spirits mixed with no sugar mixers (such as soda water or diet soft drinks), and alternate drinks with water to stay hydrated.
- Plan meals in advance. Try getting a meal planner so that you can organise your shopping list ahead of time, minimising the chances of having to order takeaway or fast food.
- Go for low GI (low glycaemic-index) foods. These means foods that are digested slower, and don’t raise your blood sugar level as quickly as highly processed foods do. For example, choosing brown versions of grains (wholemeal bread, pasta, and brown rice) and eating fruits and vegetables. For more information about GI and how to understand it, refer to this https://www.gisymbol.com.
- Be sure to include protein at each meal to fill you up well and prevent the 3 o’clock energy slumps. Some of the best protein rich snacks include: a tin of tuna, a protein bar, nuts, boiled eggs, or a protein shake.
Make a plan B for any setbacks. If you don’t work towards your goal over a particular week, brush it off, give yourself a pep talk and keep going! Consistency wins every day. You’re better off working slowly towards something for 12 months rather than going 100% in the first month, falling off the bandwagon and giving up.
Good luck, and go and smash those 2021 goals!
Accredited Practising Dietitian
Ballard, J. (2018). Exercising more and eating healthier are this year’s most popular New Year’s resolutions. YouGov. Retrieved from https://bit.ly/32PhDHo