For the first time in a long time I didn’t make any New Year’s resolutions this year, not because I have achieved everything, I have set out to do, but rather because I haven’t! Instead, I gave myself a good talking to in a quiet, calm and positive manner about all the things I have achieved and reflected on how I achieved them (essentially with dogged determination and utter willpower).
According to YouGov in January 2019, only one in five Brits planned to make New Year’s resolutions. The least likely of these were the over-50s. Why so? Are they the pessimists amongst us? Or is it simply that their experience over the years has led them to see it as somewhat hopeless.
As a previous poll highlighted, few of us who make these resolutions manage to keep them. And, perhaps even more depressing, one in five failed in the first week of January!
So this year I’ve taken what I would call a somewhat pragmatic approach to my goals in an attempt to realistically achieve them and I thought I’d share them with you:
Trying to get from zero to hero is going to set you up to fail, instead set bite size goals that are more attainable and likely to motivate you to continue.
Sticking to a plan takes a great deal of resolve so build yourself up by talking to yourself in a positive way. Self-care is very important to achieving your goals and is often mistaken as self-indulgence, you need to look after yourself first in order to look after others.
Make a plan
You know the old adage, if you fail to plan – you plan to fail! You can’t just achieve this by wishing it. There will be lots of hurdles that will get in your way like ‘busyness’ and ‘work deadlines’ so you need to think ahead and have plans B and C or a simple strategy to overcome them.
Have a clear goal in mind. If you want to lose weight, how much do you want to lose? Having a firm objective will give you something to work towards.
Concentrate on one thing at a time. Whilst some resolutions go hand in hand such as eating more healthily and losing weight, trying to deal with everything at one go can be overwhelming.
Be kind to yourself
If you missed a session at the gym or gave into that craving for a pudding don’t beat yourself up about it. Instead remind yourself that tomorrow is another day and pick up where you left off.
Our cold, damp miserable weather is not the most motivating of climates for diets or increasing outdoor activity. Perhaps the goals need to be more meditative and mindful ones or those that require less outdoor commitment during January and February. Then you can gear up towards the outdoor activities for the longer days and warmer weather. Take up a yoga class that doesn’t knock you for six when your body is least ready for it.
Set the bigger goals for spring
The weather is better in spring, and you feel more like getting out into the fresh air.
Learn to cook something new
You could learn to cook a new genre of food to expand your repertoire ….. or even learn to cook if you don’t already. Changing food habits in small steps is much more likely to be effective. Remember your diet and what you eat has greater impact in how you feel – it’s the old 80/20 ratio and so you’re likely to make bigger gains by focusing more on your diet than exercise.
Here is my list of top tips for goals for 2020:
- Drink at least 2 litres of liquid (ideally water) before 7.00 pm (otherwise it may disturb your sleep if you need to go to the loo in the night)
- Make your lunch the night before whilst you’re clearing up from dinner.
- Make a little extra whilst you’re cooking dinner so that you can pack the leftovers for your lunch to save time and be more cost effective. However don’t forget portion control – the danger is if you make more you might be tempted to eat it all!
- Portion control is a must and you can easily shave off 20% of your calorie intake simply by eating smaller amounts. Use slightly smaller plates if possible so that it still looks like a substantial meal.
- Eat breakfast – this is an essential part of self-care. Porridge or eggs are very fuel efficient and help to focus the mind.
- Cut down on the sugar or sweet foods. Sugar is addictive and impairs your immune system.
- Eat more plant-based food, even if you’re already quite conscious, you can never have too much green veg.
- Eat with others wherever possible – sharing a meal will make it more memorable and you are less likely to overeat.
- Take a break at lunch time, go for a walk, even if it’s just round the block, the fresh air will do wonders for your head and ability to concentrate in the afternoon.
- Exercise more – walking and stretching is very important to joint care and often overlooked. Gentle weights are very good for fat burning and joints.
On a final note, patience will pay in the end! Behaviour is habit forming and it takes time to get into a routine, so don’t give up. That’s why it’s important that you have realistic and attainable goals, let’s face it, it’s the easiest thing in the world to reach for the sky when you’re only wishing it – but if the bar is set too high then your targets can seem unobtainable.
Whatever path you choose I wish you every success in your endeavours and a healthy and happy 2020.
Kumud Gandhi is a Nutritional Food Scientist bestselling Author, Broadcaster, and Keynote Speaker on the subject of nutritional health for productivity & performance in the workplace. In 2010 Kumud founded ‘The Cooking Academy’ a cookery school that focusses on cooking for nutritional health and wellbeing. Kumud regularly presents to international audiences on a variety of topics such as ‘Eating for Immunity and a Lifetime of Wellness’. She is an expert in the field of Wellness in the Workplace and works with organizations to create transformational change in employee health & well-being through nutrition and health coaching.