How to set realistic health goals in the New Year
2022 here we come! It’s time to shake off the last two years and make a positive start to improving your health and diet in the New Year.
Yet, New Year’s resolutions seemingly amount to empty promises as most people fail shortly after January 2. So if you’re not meant to make New Year’s resolutions, then what are you supposed to do when you’d like to make meaningful life changes?
Here are some sure-fire way tips to frame your resolutions and help you make next year your healthiest yet.
Make your New Year resolutions positive. Focus on the types of foods you could include more of in your diet, such as fruit and vegetables, rather than vowing to give up your favourite foods that may not be so good for you. When was the last time you promised to give up chocolate or coffee for good? Deprivation is not the answer. But when you fill up your plate with healthier foods, you are more likely to displace less nutritious foods from your diet. It’s a win-win.
Have a ‘can-do’ mindset. Give yourself some leeway and don’t expect yourself to be perfect all the time. People often throw the kitchen sink at a new diet or exercise regime, but as soon as there’s a spanner in the works, they give up. It’s why more than 95 % of diets fail. You’re allowed to fall off the proverbial wagon from time to time, and there will always be curveballs (like New Year’s Eve) to contend with. Cutting yourself some slack along the way is a must.
Move more. We all know this message, but it really is a great way to boost your health and wellbeing. Go for a gentle stroll around the block, play with your kids, walk the dog, or simply carry your shopping bags to the car instead of using the trolley. Incidental activity counts too! You don’t have to run a marathon. Just enjoy the feeling of moving your body and watch your fitness and stamina improve over time.
Focus on eating a healthy diet overall and get off the fad diet merry-go-round. Nutrition professionals like me have been begging people to change their thinking about healthy eating. There is no need to overhaul your diet radically, as this won’t be sustainable. Instead, focus on small changes that have the potential to lead to significant improvements in health and wellbeing in the long term. Make water your preferred fluid; move your body more; or regularly have alcohol-free days. Such small changes can make your resolutions feel more manageable and less restrictive.
Gain the support you need to keep you on track. Ask a friend, relative or workmate to join you and help you along the way. You can set goals together and keep each other accountable. Building a supportive team around you will increase your chances of accomplishing your goals.
Reframing your resolutions will likely make them more sustainable and achievable. And remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day; slow and steady wins the race.
So let’s not set the bar too high next year. The “new year, new me” saying is fatuous at best. But, in any case, the year’s change represents a time for change and a chance to recalibrate. This is especially true after the annus horribilis x2 we’ve all endured.
Here’s to a happy, healthy and freer 2022.