New year’s resolutions. They’re a funny little concept aren’t they? I completely understand the thought process behind making them. Perhaps last year didn’t work out too well, a bad year maybe? So with a new year comes the possibility of a fresh start. 365 brand new days to start all over again, do things differently. Even if the last year was an amazing one, there’s always room for improvement. Little changes that can be made that have been niggling away in the back of our minds, or the realisation that we’d like to do something totally different with our lives. It’s that feeling of hope really isn’t it? Me personally though, I don’t usually make any big, brash, life changing resolutions to see in the new year. Why? Because I never stick to them!
Each new year during my early twenties, I’d resolve “no more alcohol fuelled nights out or parties, to cut down on my wild child days”. Who was I kidding? I was young and free! My promise to myself would be forgotten the very next weekend on receiving a simple text message asking “You coming down the pub?” The same goes for weight loss. A few times I’ve tried to start a particular new year with a visit to some energetic exercise class after binning all of the junk food, and having to sell an arm and a leg just to be able to afford to purchase the masses of healthy food I’d resolve to start eating. Did it work? Nope! Most of the food spoiled from me putting off cooking the healthy meals I didn’t even plan to make, and the exercise class was forgotten after the second one!
In 2015, I did actually drop a dress size after hiring a personal trainer and spending a year following his dietary and fitness advice. What surprised me most is the fact that I actually enjoyed training and lifting weights! I even enjoyed tracking my food! Me! The girl who, in secondary school, used to pretend she was on her period every week to get out of swimming lessons and forge notes from my mum saying I couldn’t do PE because I had a bad foot! In all honesty, I can’t believe the teacher actually fell for it!
However, my 2015 fitness streak and weight loss wasn’t the result of a New Year’s Resolution. I’d decided to take action that April after seeing how terrible I looked in photographs from a family holiday we’d just returned home from. As a result, I spent the next year feeling confident with the way I looked and being a single mum, it gave me something to focus on for me. It was an escape from reality, from the pressures of motherhood, work and just life in general, and I wasn’t influenced by my friends. If I’d have waited 9 more months until the following January to do something about my weight, chances are I would have spent 2015 feeling sorry for myself, feeling self conscious with my appearance and probably wouldn’t have as much fun as I did have. Also, I probably would have got to January 2016 and failed at the first hurdle! I don’t know what it is about making resolutions at the beginning of the year, but I always seem to break them. The way I see it is, I don’t need to wait for the new year to come around to take action to improve myself or my life. I prefer making New Me Resolutions! Tomorrow, at any time of the year, can be the start of a new me if I want it really bad!
Mind you, that’s not to say I’m not going to make any resolutions in January. The older I get, the more realistic my resolutions tend to be. For example, one of my goals for 2016 was to gain control of my Diabetes, and I think it’s safe to say I succeeded in doing that, but I only got there by making small, bite-sized changes, and not by throwing myself in at the deep end. Regardless of when you will be making your new resolution, whether it’s on January 1st or August 1st, by following a few simple steps, I believe your goals can be achievable.
- Prepare in advance. Like I’ve done in previous years, there’s no point in suddenly announcing “Tomorrow I’m going to throw out all the bad food and buy healthy food!” You need to make a plan first. Search for recipe ideas so you know exactly what food you need to buy. And most importantly, stick to the plan!
- Be realistic. My new year promises have usually failed in the past because I’ve been expecting immediate results. I’m not going to lose a stone after a week, or even a month, of healthy eating, and I realise that now. It takes lots of work.
- Baby steps! Set yourself smaller goals which will eventually help you reach your long term goal, rather than jumping in at the deep end and getting overwhelmed. Take my Diabetes control for example. The hardest hurdle for me was getting into the habit of regularly testing my blood sugar levels after years of not testing at all. So I started testing just once a day before breakfast, then building it up to another at lunch, and so on. Now, I test on average around 8-10 times per day, sometimes more! All of these tiny steps have helped me to achieve my long term goal, which is to keep my Diabetes control in check.
- Track your progress. Losing weight? Take photos of yourself before you start and then every X amount of weeks. Quitting smoking? Put the money you’d normally spend on cigarettes each day/week in a jar so that you can see your savings grow. Putting your health first? Journal it! Seeing the results of your actions will spur you on and encourage you to keep going.
- Remind yourself why you’re doing it OFTEN. I want to improve my Diabetes control so that I can live longer and watch my little girl grow up. Each time I remind myself of that, it helps me to pull myself together.
- If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again. You may well fall at the first hurdle, but you have 365 days in a year, just start again tomorrow. Don’t beat yourself up about it. Clean slate tomorrow, forget about what happened yesterday!
- Social Media. Search out relevant support groups full of people who are going through the same thing. Don’t always rely on family and friends for advice, as they may be uncertain how to help or unable to (and some can even unknowingly sabotage your attempts!)
- Reward yourself whenever you complete each little goal. That money you’re saving in a jar for each pack of cigarettes you don’t buy? Treat yourself to something nice after a week, then a month, 6 months, a year! Lost your first 7 lbs in weight? Splash out on a new pair of shoes to make you feel even better about yourself!
What do you think? Have I missed anything out? Are you making any resolutions, not just in January, but at any point in the year?
Find out what I’m hoping to work on throughout 2017 here. By following my own advice, I’m feeling positive that I can complete them successfully, without falling off the wagon and giving up! And I’m positive that you can too! Good luck and Happy New Year!