So how are last year’s resolutions? Have you climbed that mountain, become your own boss, lost those few pesky pounds around your belly and mindfully managed to stay zen around colleagues, family and friends?
If the answer to these is no, you're not alone. Those first few days of heady renewal that come every January, where we can bask in the aura of our good intentions, always seem to evaporate with ‘comfort food’ or another soggy morning spent under the duvet instead of at the gym.
We often start the new year bloated and tired from overindulging, which often starts from Halloween along with the excuses we tell ourselves: ‘It’s nearly Christmas’, and, ‘I have glitter from making that costume permanently in my hair’. Combined with life’s daily stresses, this undermines the healthy behaviours we know we should have.
If our minds are so powerful that they can lead us astray (metaphorically speaking!), we should be able to repurpose that strength to help us stick to what we know is good for us, right?
Few of us are likely to wake up looking and feeling like Gwyneth Paltrow on 1st January, and even fewer of us will start making our own cashew milk or redefining our lifestyle overnight. Instead of being envious of others’ visions of health and wellbeing, why not focus on your own health goals and visualise how your life would be when you achieve these?
Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to embark on realistic and attainable new year’s resolutions:
1. Define your values What are your values around health and wellbeing? Self-care? Family? Adventure? Once these are clear, it’s time to examine how they can be translated into goals.
2. Make your goals SMART: Specific, Meaningful, Adaptive, Realistic and Time-bound. For example: ‘I want to lose weight’ is like saying ‘I want to be taller’. It's time to be precise. ‘I want to lose 7kg in the next three months and increase my aerobic fitness so that I can easily run with my children without wanting to throw up!'
3. Mind chatter: Our minds can be hugely irritating. There are many ways to quieten the chatter, such as yoga, meditation or singing – something that takes the focus away from the internal dialogue. The real skill however is how we respond in the heat of the moment when you are faced with choosing the duvet or dumbbells, the cake or the carrot.
STOP! Next time when you’re faced with this predicament, hit pause. Take a few breaths and observe what your mind is saying, remember your goals and values and reconsider your choice.
Often even this act of delaying an impulse is enough to help us find the strength and focus to make the right decision. Five seconds of mindfulness can be enough to retract those twitchy fingers from that slice of chocolate cake.
As long as your actions are in line with your values, you are on your way to a happier, healthier and more fulfilled 2017. Could this be the year you slow down, observe and make some time to think about what you really want?
Suné Markowitz-Shulman is a registered nutritional therapist, health coach and trained chef. She has more than 10 years’ experience and worked on Harley Street in London, where she has coached clients from around the UK and the world. Suné specialises in weight-loss, behaviour change and healthy nutrition for families. She is also one of the UK’s leading Metabolic Balance™ coaches and works with clients in person or through web-based consultations.
SPECIAL OFFER Suné offers individual and group coaching packages from her home in southeast London. Psychologies readers can get 10% off any of the programmes on her website at nutritionredefined.co.uk before 31 January.