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At the beginning of every year, we often make resolutions that will impact our health. Telling ourselves we will do this or that, we mentally decide to make this year the year of healthy living. Weeks later, after breaking at least one of our health resolutions, we console ourselves with a piece of chocolate cake to compensate for yet another failing! Sound familiar? We are already a few weeks into the new year (at time of writing), and you may have already stumbled with your health plans. On the other hand, you may be experiencing success. If so, long may it continue.
No matter where you are in your health resolutions, it’s never too late to begin again if you have fallen by the wayside. In this article, we will give you a few helpful tips to maintain your resolutions past January and into the rest of the year.
Don’t run before you can walk
Many of us have grandstanding plans when we make our resolutions, but they are often too big for us to handle. We need to start small, pacing ourselves, making realistic steps as we go forward. So, if you have decided to exercise more, it’s no good telling yourself you are going to run around the park three times a day. Perhaps a steady jog once a day is more sensible until you have worked your way up to the goal you have set yourself. If jogging seems too much to handle at first, go for a brisk walk. You are less likely to give up if you start small, so set yourself a plan that is is SMART - specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely.
Don’t overwhelm yourself
Limit the number of resolutions you have set yourself. Give yourself too many, and you will quite possibly struggle to manage all of them. Therefore, prioritise. What unhealthy behaviours are causing you the most problems? Think about it, and plan to deal with them accordingly. You have a higher chance of succeeding if you focus your energies on one or two things at a time, instead of trying to fix every habit or behaviour you have in your life.
Confront your fears
Many resolutions fail because our phobias block them. Want to see more of the world? It’s not going to happen if you have a fear of flying. Want to deal with specific health problems? You won’t if you have experienced medical negligence in the past. Want to extend your social circle? If you suffer anxiety in public places, you are going to struggle. You need to deal with these often irrational fears, either through counselling or having the courage to confront them them head on. This way, there is less chance of you giving up on resolutions that would have previously been unattainable.
Seek support from others
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Sticking to your health resolution can take an enormous amount of willpower. Thinking about a diet change ? Great, but it would be helpful to have somebody around to help you resist that bar of chocolate. Want to achieve that exercise goal? Wonderful, but perhaps a gym partner will spur you on when you are tempted to give up! There are times when you will need help, even if they do sound like a nagging voice. Unless you have the willpower of a saint, you need the extra support to lift you up when you fall down, and to encourage you to stick to the healthier lifestyle you are trying to achieve. Whether it’s family, friends, or coworkers, ask for help, and they will make your journey to a healthier life much more achievable.
Look for alternatives
Your resolutions shouldn’t be a punishment. Deciding to give up chocolate might seem like agony, but there are healthy treats available that are just as tasty. Miss your favourite takeaways? Then order food from healthier establishments, where the menu can be just as exciting, with the peace of mind that you are actually eating something better for you. A new year is a time to try new things anyway, so what greater incentive do you need than to mix your life up a little with a little variety as you try to satisfy your tastebuds.
Let’s face it, we are sometimes our own worst enemy. If you are trying to lose weight, it’s no good stocking your cupboards with unhealthy food for the rest of your family. If you are out on your morning run, you shouldn’t plan a route near any road with bakeries or other food vendors. If you are intent on giving up smoking , you shouldn’t have a packet of cigarettes lying around, just in case you need one. If anything is going to get in the way of your health resolutions, get rid of them. The less temptation there is facing you, the less likely you are going to fail.
Don’t strive for perfection
Nobody is perfect. We all make mistakes, and there will be time when your resolutions do not go to plan. That doesn’t mean you should give up, however. If you miss your morning jog because your bed was just too comfortable, or you eat that bar of chocolate because you gave in to your cravings, don’t beat yourself up about it. It doesn’t mean tomorrow will be the same. The world won’t cave in because you have slipped up. Life goes on, and you can get yourself back on track, without feeling like you have gone off the rails. So, don’t wait until next January to start again. You can make amends straight away.
So, whether you have made headway with your resolutions or are already tempted to give up, we hope our advice will help you make it throughout this year. If you have any other tips for our readers, perhaps techniques you find particularly useful, be sure to let us know. We wish you every success and happiness this year, and hope you manage to achieve all the health goals you have set yourself for the months to come.
**This was a collaboration post