Af­ter the RES­O­LUTI

We all want to over­haul our lives in Jan­uary – but mas­sive, sweep­ing ch to fail. Jane Alexan­der shows you how to make a year-long plan you ca

The Irish Mail on Sunday - TV Week - - BODY & SOUL -

New Year is syn­ony­mous with mak­ing res­o­lu­tions. The nat­u­ral urge is to think big — we all want to shift our en­tire lives in one fell swoop. But be­fore you re­solve to change your job, re­la­tion­ship, shape and size in one gi­ant gulp, bear in mind that al­most half of New Year’s res­o­lu­tions won’t make it into Fe­bru­ary, ac­cord­ing to re­search by health in­surance provider Aviva.

We all seem to want pretty much the same things: the top New Year’s res­o­lu­tions are to lose weight, to eat healthily and to ex­er­cise more. All ad­mirable ideals, so it’s a shame so many of us fall by the way­side. The prob­lem lies in our goalset­ting, says Jane Matthews, au­thor of Have The Best Year Of Your Life (O-Books). ‘We set the bar too high. In­stead of de­cid­ing to change one or two un­healthy habits or get a lit­tle more ex­er­cise, we com­mit our­selves to rad­i­cal crash di­ets and fit­ness regimes that would de­feat se­rial gym mem­bers.’

But this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t re­solve to make changes. Re­search shows that peo­ple who ex­plic­itly make res­o­lu­tions are still 10 times more likely to at­tain their goals than those who don’t. It’s just a case of how you man­age them. ‘Break the res­o­lu­tions down into smaller, man­age­able steps,’ ad­vises Matthews. So, why not make the res­o­lu­tion to shift your life over the whole of 2013, not just the first month of it. Here’s how...

Jan­uary RES­O­LU­TION: AS­SESS YOUR LIFE

Think about what you want to achieve over the coming year and fig­ure out the best ways to do it (source cour­ses, find help­ful peo­ple, make lists). Don’t race to join a gym (they’re packed for the first few weeks of Jan­uary). Coax your­self into healthy eat­ing by cut­ting back on rich, heavy food and al­co­hol and shift­ing your diet to warm­ing soups and en­ergy-boost­ing lean meat and fish (with plenty of fruit, veg, nuts and seeds).

Ditch: Dra­co­nian di­ets and detoxes — truly, it’s the wrong time of year.

Take up: Pi­lates or yoga — in­door (warm) work­outs that stretch body and mind.

Small shift: Take a good-qual­ity mul­ti­vi­ta­min and min­eral sup­ple­ment.

Fe­bru­ary RES­O­LU­TION: CLEAR THE DECKS

Make this month’s res­o­lu­tion a to­tal clear-out on your home, get­ting rid of all your clut­ter. Have a cull of your ad­dress book too, los­ing any ‘false friends’ or sponges. Cling­ing onto old stuff, even out­dated emo­tions and opin­ions, lit­er­ally holds you back. Slash and burn. Hon­estly, life’s too short.

Ditch: All the dross. Make char­ity shops happy with your cast-offs or try sell­ing stuff on eBay.

Take up: Mind­ful­ness med­i­ta­tion. Take five min­utes ev­ery so of­ten to fo­cus on what you’re do­ing, right there and then.

Small shift: Switch from cof­fee to herbal tea.

March RES­O­LU­TION: REG­U­LAR EX­ER­CISE

If you want ex­er­cise to ‘stick’, you need to find some­thing you en­joy, says Jane Matthews. ‘ Even with Mamma Mia! pump­ing through my head­phones, I just find jog­ging bor­ing,’ she says. ‘But I do love chat­ting with my mates so we sched­ule reg­u­lar power walks and yab­ber our way round the block.’ There’s a sport or class for ev­ery­one, so don’t be put off if you’ve been a couch potato for years.

Ditch: Sugar. Hon­estly, it’s age­ing as well as fat­ten­ing.

Take up: Re­bound­ing. In­vest in a small tram­po­line and pop it in front of your TV — bounce dur­ing the news for a mini work­out (and a great lymph booster).

Small shift: Make break­fast or lunch your largest meal. Try not to eat af­ter 7pm.

April RES­O­LU­TION: BE KIND TO YOUR­SELF

‘The mes­sage be­hind many of our res­o­lu­tions is that we’re not good enough as we are,’ warns Jane Matthews. She ad­vises chang­ing the mind­set. ‘See res­o­lu­tions as a pos­i­tive choice to grow or to make healthy changes in your life.’ Don’t think in terms of what you’re go­ing to give up but rather what you can do to make your­self feel bet­ter, more pos­i­tive, hap­pier.

Ditch: Look­ing for in­stant, dra­matic re­sults. If you’re try­ing to lose weight, aim for a healthy one or two pounds a week. If you want to get fit, take it in slow, sen­si­ble stages.

Take up: Mas­sage. Can’t af­ford it? Buy a ‘howto’ DVD or take a course with a friend and trade.

Small shift: Drink two litres of water ev­ery day (fil­tered tap water is just fine). Keep it at room tem­per­a­ture (not freez­ing cold) or even warm.

May RES­O­LU­TION: TAKE A GEN­TLE DETOX

For­get New Year; now is the op­ti­mum time to un­dergo a good, thor­ough cleanse. My book The Detox Plan (now avail­able in e-for­mat from Ama­zon) of­fers sev­eral sug­ges­tions. Ba­si­cally cut out all pro­cessed food, sugar, salt, caf­feine, al­co­hol and in­stead boost your­self with fab­u­lous health-giv­ing foods. If in doubt, seek the help of a qual­i­fied nu­tri­tional ther­a­pist. Ditch: Late-night hor­ror movies or vi­o­lent thrillers while you’re detox­ing. Lis­ten to soft mu­sic or read a spir­i­tual or self-help book.

Take up: Skin- brush­ing to stim­u­late the lymph. Use a soft­bris­tle brush on dry skin, be­ing sure to brush to­wards the heart be­fore bathing or show­er­ing.

Small shift: Get out into na­ture (yes, parks count). Breathe deep.

June RES­O­LU­TION: OVER­HAUL RE­LA­TION­SHIPS

Take time to ‘check in’ with your loved ones. What do you want from the re­la­tion­ship? How do you both feel? Re­mem­ber, it’s a two-way process so keep an open mind. Take it in turns to say how you feel; ex­plain what you want from life. Give each other un­di­vided at­ten­tion. Be hon­est but kind.

Ditch: Crit­i­cism. In­stead of carp­ing on about some­one’s short­com­ings, de­scribe how YOU feel.

Take up: Yoga to­gether — there is noth­ing like it to bring part­ners and fam­i­lies to­gether.

Small shift: Get in­volved with your com­mu­nity — help out an el­derly neigh­bour; start a book club.

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