Keep your healthy new year’s resolution and succeed where most others fail.
“A happy and healthy new year” is something I’m sure you’ll have heard a few times recently. The addition of “…and healthy” in that greeting is no coincidence. Good health and happiness go and in hand and, for most of us, the good health of yourself and your loved ones is a prerequisite of having a happy year.
It’s no surprise, therefore, that improving one’s health in various ways has always been amongst the most popular New Year’s Resolutions:
- Lose weight
- Get fit
- Get a six-pack
- Eat more healthily
- Give up smoking
According to at least one survey, these still figure strongly this year, but another common thread in what many people would like to improve in 2016 is the wish to spend more time with the family, or do more things to improve the quality of life, and generally being more efficient with time. Another is being less wasteful with money.
But as the road to hell is paved with good intentions, as they say, the road to a disappointing year starts with failed resolutions. Unfortunately, nearly 90% of New Year Resolutions do fail, and fairly early on in the year. If your hopes and ambitions for what you’re going to achieve in the new year have all but crumbled by February, how does that make you feel, looking to the rest of the year?
This begs two questions:
Why do so many resolutions fail?
And what can you do to make sure yours don’t?
I’m going to try to answer these questions. For the sake of this example, we’re going to assume you’re aiming to lose some weight, but the same principles apply to anything.
Why do so many New Year’s Resolutions fail?
In many cases, the problem starts with vagueness about what the resolution is. And, often, that is because the person is not really serious about it. If you haven’t really given it much thought until New Year’s Eve, when someone at a party asks “What’s your New Year’s Resolution?” and you say glibly “I suppose I’d like to get a bit fitter and lose a few pounds”.
But do you really mean it? Only around half of those who make new year resolution’s are confident of keeping them, which implies they’re not really serious about it nor very determined to try. But if you are, what are you prepared to do about it?
This last question is very important! As a musician, I’ve lost count of the number of times someone has said to me “Oh, I’d love to be able to play a musical instrument”. What they mean is: they wish someone could wave a magic wand and they could play the piano or guitar, but they never will because they’re not prepared to put in the hours a day of practice over many years when they would otherwise be watching television or whatever.
The truth is, almost nothing comes free. If you genuinely want to lose weight and get fit, you’ll have to find the strength of character to say no to some foods you enjoy and which got you those extra pounds in the first place; and you’ll have to make the effort to do more exercise than you’re doing at the moment.
So I’ll repeat:
If you really want to lose some weight and get fitter, what are you prepared to do about it?
If you’re ready to answer that, you’re ready to succeed. And for that, you need a plan.
The good news is that when you do start to make progress, you’ll find that the results are more than worth the effort and you’ll be glad you did.
Planning to make your New Year Resolution succeed
1. Firstly, you should get specific. Success is really only success when you can measure it. Otherwise, how do you know if you’ve succeeded?
So don’t say “ I want to lose some weight”; say “I want to lose [x] pounds/kilos by the end of the month”.
2. Next you need to plan how you’re going to achieve it. Are you going to join a weight-loss group? Or are you going to do it yourself? If the latter, that’s ok, but you should go about it the same methodical way that they do in a group.
Weigh yourself regularly using reliable scales, at the same time of day, wearing the same level of clothing and write it down, or keep a spreadsheet.
Whether it’s fitness or weight loss that you’re aiming for, it goes without saying that you should eat healthily and there are plenty of resources for guidance on that, but you should monitor what you eat and alter it accordingly, depending on how near you are to your target.
3. Hand in hand with a balanced diet, is regular exercise. It’s likely that you weren’t getting enough, so how are you going to change that? The various alternatives are looked at here but, given the name of this website, you won’t be surprised to discover where I stand on the subject.
As far as New Year Resolutions go, one of the benefits of having exercise equipment at home also helps with the other two popular subjects mentioned above,
Being more time-efficient – because you can exercise at times that suit you without having to travel to a gym and back; and
Being less wasteful with money – because, after the initial outlay, use of the equipment if free. No expensive monthly gym membership regardless of how often or infrequently you go.
4. As with your diet, you should set targets both in the time you spend exercising and in the exercise itself.
So you can say, for example, you’re going to spend half an hour on the bike/treadmill/rowing machine … every other day before work/dinner… (Don’t exercise just before bedtime; it’s not good for helping you sleep).
And, in that exercise, I’m going to set a target pace of [insert target here]. That target obviously varies depending on your current fitness. If you don’t know what that target should be, it would be sensible to start moderately and gradually increase it until you can manage but you’re slightly out of breath. The fitter you get, the more out of breath you can push yourself, and you can raise your target. But get advice from your doctor, especially if you’re in any doubt.
The combination of healthy eating and regular exercise is a winning one that will help you become one of the few who succeed in achieving their New Year Resolution. And being healthier and fitter also helps reduce general stress levels and lead to a genuinely happy new year.
And here’s to a happy and healthy new year!