The beginning of a new year can provide the perfect opportunity to implement diet and lifestyle changes. After a couple of days, or weeks, of slightly higher intakes of food and wine accompanied with lower levels of exercise, motivations can be high to get started on a new regime.
Social media will be awash with ‘new year, new you’ programmes, and whilst these can be great for some, many struggle sticking with the drastic changes they demand.
A far more successful approach is to have a clear intention for what you want to achieve, and be realistic with the time frame and way in which you are going to achieve it. Here are my top tips for making your new years intention a sustainable one that will support you throughout the year.
1. Set your intention
This may sounds like a no brainer….but I mean get REALLY clear with what you want. Spend some time mind mapping or journaling to reflect on what it is you want 2016 to look like for your health and wellbeing. One fantastic exercise I use for myself and with clients is the circle of want. Write everything you want on the inside, and everything you don’t want on the outside. It’s amazing the things that come up and provide a great basis to draw some goals from.
2. Make SMART goals
The saying “A goal without a plan is just a wish” is so true, which is why I am a huge fan of SMART goals. This stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time bound. From the circle of want pick out a want and turn it into a SMART goal.
For example, “eat healthy” turns into
“I will increase the variety of vegetables I eat on a weekly basis by signing up to a local organic vegetable delivery box and use all of the contents making home made meals 5 days out of 7. I will start the box scheme by 25th January.”
BOOM now we are talking! Not only do you now have a clear goal with a plan to achieve it, but you are also accountable for it. Sticking these goals up around your office or home is a great way of making you more accountable and encouraging support from friends and family to help you succeed.
3. Be Present
Clients often explain to me that if they make one ‘slip-up’ that’s it, the whole day or even week is a write-off and they’re back to square one on Monday morning, perhaps having binged on the previous Sunday evening : /…..I say NO! Every moment is an opportunity to be the best you can be, don’t let them slip past you.
4. Get reflective
Journaling is such a great tool to use when you are making changes to your lifestyle. Not only will it help you track all the changes you have made and the effects they have on how you feel, but it is also a great way of identifying how and why things can sometimes go wrong. Perhaps you are not leaving enough time to prepare food during the week? Or maybe you are just not as committed to the goal as you had previously thought?
5. Be agile and realistic
Which leads me to my last recommendation. We have to be agile in the fast paced world that we live in and this applies to your diet too. Even with all the best intentions in the world, perhaps the goal you had set just isn’t working out. Don’t be tempted to beat yourself up over it, but instead take a different approach. Maybe its time to get some professional advice and seek out a personal trainer, life coach, nutritionist… whatever you do, don’t just continue on with a feeling of failure. Work on setting small, realistic goals that may feel like baby steps, but are much more inclined to help get you on your path to success and keep you there!