Healthy Food Guide (Australia) - - LIVE WELL -

De­spite the high dropout rate among New Year’s goal set­ters, re­mem­ber: goals are good! Re­search con­firms they not only help to keep you mo­ti­vated, but that peo­ple who set them are 10 times more likely to achieve a health ob­jec­tive than peo­ple who don’t. Use this proven five-step plan to help you feel health­ier and hap­pier this year.

1Re­flect on the ‘why’

be­havioural sci­en­tists say that keep­ing the rea­son why you want to lose weight front of mind mo­ti­vates you to keep at it, and helps you keep those ki­los off. rather than let­ting all those healthy be­hav­iours that got you there fall away, you’ll keep do­ing them.

stud­ies re­veal los­ing weight to please your­self rather than some­one else de­liv­ers bet­ter re­sults, as does do­ing it for a rea­son like get­ting more en­ergy or bet­ter health, rather than purely for ap­pear­ances.

And re­mem­ber — no ‘should-ing’ your­self. in­stead, re­frame your weight-loss strat­egy so it sounds like some­thing you’d like to start work­ing on. that will put you in a more help­ful frame of mind, so that you’re more likely to start tak­ing steps to­wards do­ing it.

‘i’d like to lose weight’ is also a great way to start ex­plor­ing why that goal’s im­por­tant to you, es­pe­cially when you put a ‘be­cause’ or a ‘so i can … ’ on the end.

2Don’t fo­cus too much on the end goal

You might have a num­ber on the scale in mind, but ac­cord­ing to a Por­tuguese study, mak­ing it your pri­mary fo­cus isn’t the best ap­proach. Fo­cus­ing on achiev­ing a cer­tain weight can be a sub­con­scious ‘cue’ that you can quit weight-loss friendly be­hav­iours once you hit (or don’t hit) that tar­get. A 2016 study also found most of us need more im­me­di­ate re­wards to stay mo­ti­vated, rather than the far-off car­rot a num­ber on a scale rep­re­sents. A bet­ter ap­proach is to fo­cus on the weight-loss process in­stead by mak­ing a bunch of smaller changes that are re­ward­ing — be­cause that de­liv­ers big re­sults over time.

3Make SMART-re­lated changes that stick

the ‘small changes’ ap­proach to los­ing weight is sci­en­tif­i­cally backed, and there are so many changes to choose from. check out the 20 we've high­lighted on page 34. Once you’ve picked a few to work on, turn them into easy rou­tines that are spe­cific, mea­sur­able, Achiev­able, re­al­is­tic and time-re­lated (smArt).

For ex­am­ple, if you choose ‘ex­er­cise more‘, you might say: ‘i’m go­ing to walk the dog af­ter work three times a week this month’. it’s spe­cific. You can also mea­sure whether you achieve it. it’s very achiev­able and re­al­is­tic — and by in­clud­ing ‘this month’, you’ve made it time-re­lated.

4Turn changes into habits

When some­thing’s ha­bit­ual, you’ll do it on au­topi­lot in­stead of hav­ing to make a con­scious ef­fort. An ef­fec­tive way to do it is by us­ing the proven TAP tech­nique — or Trig­ger, Ac­tion, Prac­tise.

So, if your ac­tion is, ‘I’m go­ing to walk the dog af­ter work three times a week this month’, choose a trig­ger to act as a prompt to do it. It might be hang­ing the lead at the front door or re­fill­ing the dog’s wa­ter bowl. Then, when­ever you en­counter that trig­ger, prac­tise the ac­tion.

5Don’t let a set­back set you back

Gained weight in­stead of lost it? Or per­haps you haven’t car­ried out those small changes as of­ten as you’d like? Don’t panic — and don’t give up. Re­search shows you don’t need a 100 per cent hit rate when act­ing on your trig­ger to make a change stick, and that weight gain doesn’t have to de­rail your jour­ney to­wards your weight-loss goal, ei­ther.

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