As the New Year rolls on, our resolves to get fit and healthy tend to fade away and all too soon we lapse into our old ways. Why is it that we seem doomed to failure when we begin with all good intentions for clean living? A big factor is the seemingly unavoidable spin around new diet books, juice detoxes not to mention fitness fads – all promising we’ll be lean and lithe in no time. When you add in the allure of the latest celeb weight loss and body transformation, the pressure is huge – no wonder it’s so easy to fall for the hype. We begin the kale juice diet on a Monday morning, only to give up by the evening and decide to have wine with dinner, and so the guilt trip continues in a vicious detox/retox circle.
Trouble is the ‘new trends’ we’re bombarded with (rarely new in any case) usually have nothing to do with our own aspirations let alone goals, often meaning we launch into something we don’t like doing and can’t keep up. It’s as if we’re trying to live vicariously through someone else’s – usually luxe – lifestyle. Someone who has an organic chef and seemingly all the time in the world. When we do this, we inevitably set ourselves up for failure then look for other solutions, bouncing from one fad to the next and never really addressing our own bodies.
If we want to improve our wellbeing we need to develop healthy habits for life, and that means taking a much more honest, realistic approach. First step is to work out our own aspirations. This may mean a bit of soul searching, taking a look inwards to really visualise ourselves as we are – and this is where the honesty comes in – it’s not about media imagery or anyone else’s idea of what is fit and healthy, but our own. Keep in mind it doesn’t have to involve drastic change, and certainly doesn’t have to involve drastic dieting. For most of us, it’s about realising we simply want to feel fitter, healthier, happier and more confident in our bodies. If we take time to analyse and write things down, it might be anything from wanting to sleep better, cook healthier food from scratch, or get back into a sport or activity we used to enjoy.
Once we have the idea, then we can then begin to set do-able goals by asking what could be put in place to make it a reality. Our goals need to be specific so that they can be monitored, noting the changes. For example, if the aspiration is to cook healthier food from scratch, the goal could be to make a batch of home made soup every Sunday for the next month. Telling our partner/family so they’re on board for support (even to help in the kitchen!), makes it all the more achievable. Tracking the changes – such as saving on not having to buy take away soup for lunch, how much better it feels to enjoy home made food, knowing exactly what’s in it – will all feed into keeping it up. Acknowledging the small successes along the way eventually leads to doing more.
Equally important to remember – there is no need to be 100% perfect all the time. We seem to be in such a competitive mind set these days, wanting something right now, yet part of being successful in reaching our targets is sticking to a plan in the long term and knowing when to take it easy. That’s why the 80/20 rule is so good. It allows for the occasional splurge within a framework knowing we can trust ourselves to get back on track quickly before ‘bad’ habits kick in. Of course, discipline and work do come into the equation, but if we are working towards our own idea of how we want to look and feel realistically, there is no reason to not succeed.
Keep stoking the motivational fire by thinking about how good it will feel to achieve your goals. Have two images in mind: the fit, energetic, healthy and happy in contrast to the unfit, tired, unhealthy and unhappy and resolve to make more decisions which fit that first image, knowing that all decisions add up. We are in charge of making the best choices for ourselves and if we’ve decided which lifestyle makes us feel happier and healthier, all that discipline and hard work becomes positive – a joy rather than a chore.