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
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 Clinging onto old stuff, even outdated emotions and opinions, literally holds you back.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.