Welcome to 2021! This time of the year is all about new beginnings, fresh perspectives, and new years’ resolutions, and after the Christmas period with all its indulgences, many of our resolutions often involve making health a priority. This can be a great time to make changes, but often, we fall off the wagon after a short time. Why?
Most habits take at least 9 months to become fully formed in our daily routine. When we are looking at diet habits this can mean many, many habits, which is why changing our eating habits for the long term is a lot harder than what everybody thinks. Here are some strategies that can help you make that new years’ resolution stick right through for the rest of your life:
1. Set yourself up to make changes stick. Plan, plan, plan! Think about what it is you want and what you need to do to achieve it. If you want to increase your fitness such as how long you can walk or run without getting too breathless, make that plan. Ask yourself; what are the steps you need to get there?
What is available to you – where can you get this? Is it convenient and inexpensive for you to get? How many times per week will you need to get it? What will make it easier and what has stopped you getting out there in the past? Anything you can think of to get around those barriers, What are some things you can tell yourself to be in that positive, “can do” mind frame?
2. Start small and work up. For example, if you want to eat more vegetables this year because you want to feel fuller after you eat and avoid excess snacking, you could think about incorporating one extra serve of vegetables first at one time of the day. Once this has become a habit, you can then think about incorporating another vegie serve, and so on.
3. Ask for help and support. Change can be hard, so enlist the help of those you care about and those who care about you. Also, there is no shame in consulting experts. We can’t have all the skills, knowledge, answers and motivation all ourselves. Dietitians, Psychologists, Exercise Professionals like personal trainers, Exercise physiologists or class instructors, are invaluable to your success. They provide expert assessment and help you reflect on your progress much better then you can on your own.
4. Never give up! If you miss a day, a week, a month… it’s okay. Don’t beat yourself up. Life happens and priorities change. But when you are ready again you can always go back to number 1 in this blog and start again.
Reflection is a great tool to use when something goes wrong.
Dietitians use reflection with our patients as well as every day in our work practice, to learn from ourselves and each other, and from our clients. It can help you too when things go off course in your New Years’ Resolution. You can reflect verbally, to a loved one or even to a mirror, or in writing. It’s important to put your thoughts into words in some capacity so that you can construct and develop your strategy clearly.
To reflect, ask yourself these questions:
What happened? Make sure to think about who, what, where and why.
What did I do well? This is usually the hardest question to answer, mostly because at this time, we are usually berating ourselves for “failing”. However, it is important to be honest with yourself and look for the good things you did in the situation. I guarantee there will always be at least one!
What did I do not so well?
This question is not about blame, but about clarification. When asking this question, be honest with yourself, but not harsh. The reflection process is about personal growth and learning.
What are strategies I can use to prevent this happening again? Make these strategies very specific; simply saying, “don’t let this happen again” isn’t enough.
How will you do it?
What do you need to be able to do this?
Can someone help you do this?
Once your reflection is complete, make sure you give yourself a realistic timeline on when you will have your new strategies in place, and make a plan about how you will implement the strategies and who you may have to ask to help you.
Whatever it is you want to achieve this 2021 by following these steps you will surely be setting yourself up to be a champion of your life!