This time of year is the absolute worst time to be thinking about weight loss as a New Year's resolution. Firstly, traditionally this time is party season with Christmas parties, New Years gatherings and family catch ups. These will mostly involve getting together around food and drinks. It’s no coincidence that it’s called the silly season. This time is about having fun and forgetting about what is traditionally expectated. “Treat Yourself, it’s Christmas” and then promising to commit to exercise and healthy eating cannot form part of that same philosophy. If you are like me, you have promised yourself that Jan 1 is day one of your diet, then wake up with a huge hangover and need a salty carb heavy fix. That’s your resolution broken before it’s even begun.
Another issue is that the gyms are full of people who have also decided that this year is THEIR year. Most of the people in there will have no fucking idea what they're doing, the trainers that can give you guidance are flat chat with clients and you have to queue to get on the squat press. That’s making your new habit even harder to achieve. The gym owners will love you as by week 2 they are still taking your money but now don’t have to remember your name.
Have you ever spoken to someone in September/ October/ November, who has achieved weight loss or they have quit smoking, and they've actually attributed it to being a New Year's resolution? New Year's resolutions are forgotten about by February. It’s also worth noting that if you make the same resolutions at the same time every and you fail you are continually reinforced that mindset of failure… and so the cycle continues..
What makes things even worse is that the media at this time of year is swarming with terrible weight loss and fitness ads. Ads for shitty fitness equipment being used by skinny models with ripped abs, detox teas that will LITERALLY give you the shits, and miraculous shakes and meal plans. These ads are specifically designed to feed into your fear of not being enough. of not looking attractive, not feeling good, or not being your best. You’re sitting on the couch with Turkey sweats and a bloated belly, feeling guilty for stealing the last potato, and they smack you in the face with empty promises of making you feel great, dropping kilos like it’s hot and giving you your best life. You cave and find yourselves with cupboards full of ab machines and dusty packets of protein powders.
This time of year should be a time to reflect on the things that worked for you in the year before, and looking forward to the great prospects you can create for yourself in the New Year ahead. Wouldn’t it be better to start the year on a positive change and a growth opportunity? We can instead be focusing on how you can look after yourself and level up to stage 9 of the magnificent you, optimizing what is already good about you.
if you do insist on setting yourself a New Year's resolution that's aimed towards weight loss or health and fitness in general, then these are my recommendations to get you to maximize your success.
Avoid “negative goals”
One of the usual faux pars is that we tend to use negative words in our goal statements. We want to LOSE weight. We want to STOP eating carbs or donuts or whatever, we want to eat LESS calories or RESTRICT the times we eat by Fasting. The thing that these words have in common is that they are coming from a place of lack, and your mindset will associate this with deprivation, control and FOMO. This can then feel like punishment rather than a step towards a positive change. If you make the goal a more positive one, like drink MORE water, eat PLENTY of vegetables or ACHIEVING 10 push ups, then it feels much more achievable, more goal oriented and more likely to be successful.
Keep the goal small.
If your long term goal is to run a marathon that's great, but this sounds so daunting and far away. How about we just try being able to run two K's non stop or just running three times a week. Focus on the smaller increments, then once you've achieved your small goal, you can create another and make it the next step. Before you know it, that Marathon will be within your reach.
Keep a record.
Write it down or tell someone about it. Keep a chart on your shower, mirror or the front door when you leave the house. It's a constant visual reminder of what you want to achieve. Humans are creatures of habit, and the unconscious mind performs most of the daily tasks, which is why introducing new things can be so hard to do. You are literally having to reprogram those neural pathways to change those patterns of behaviour, so keep it front of mind and visual. It will make it easier to for a new skill to become a new habit.
Be kind to yourself
Don't beat yourself up if you do forget one day or drop back into old habits and patterns. don't beat yourself up. It's natural. We all have bad days. I'm sure even the most skilled marathon runners take a day off. Keep going. It's not a fail, It's a hiccup - a delay that’s all.
Get some support
A friend or relative is ideal, but make sure you can trust them to help you stay on track. All too often you will find that with all best intentions, friends and family become saboteurs. They don't intend to, and think they are helping by being nice and suggesting you have a day off or just one doughnut. Just know it’s a slippery slope from there. I find the most successful support is if you pay someone. It’s then literally their job to stay on track. Ultimately though, know it’s still up to you and you alone.
Focus on your Why
It needs to be really good reason why you want to achieve it, otherwise it won’t happen. It is not a good “why” if it’s because you think you need to be skinny, to look good in your Instagrams or somebody called you fat last week. A good reason would be for your health and wellbeing, your mental health, to have a long active life, to be able to play with your kids in the park or to meet your future grandkids. Reasons like these will keep you motivated and grounded when you remind yourself why you are doing this.
Whatever your future goals and plans for 2022, we wish you all the success. You have the power to make a positive change in your life, and positive outcomes are all but guaranteed to be a success if you greet them with a positive mindset and the right goal setting skills.