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...


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.


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.


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.


‘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.


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.


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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