By Elizabeth Greatrex
To many, January is known as the most depressing month of the year. Christmas is officially over and the high from all the festivities is slowly fizzling out. The tree gets taken down, the decorations go back in their box and the last of the celebrations get finished. After one last blow out on New Year’s Eve, you come crashing down to the reality that you should probably start to do something about that muffin top that has become exceedingly obvious over the holiday season.
And just like that, in comes the flood of unrealistic New Year’s resolution ideas, that you promise to all your relatives and friends that this time, you’re ‘really sticking to’. You tell yourself that, this year will see the back of the old you, as your life only has room for the new you: a lean, green, healthy eating machine that would never even think of putting such poisons in the temple that is your body ever again!
Listen, we’ve all been there. Statistics have shown that the most common New Year’s resolutions include goals such as losing weight, exercising more, drinking less alcohol, quitting smoking, or eating more healthily. While these are all fabulous goals, experts have revealed that we are much more likely to change when we set ourselves realistic and specific expectations. If you’re an individual that really can stick to the promises you make yourself, then of course, I congratulate you. But for many, deciding to go cold turkey in whatever form is downright unrealistic, with a greater likelihood that you’ll feel disappointed in yourself and completely deflated when you give in to that odd cigarette, drink or chocolate bar.
In our book, slow and steady wins the race. It’s all about balance.
Here are some helpful points to remember when setting yourself goals for the New Year.
Be Realistic and Specific with your goal.
Let’s say that you want to start going to the gym. You recognise that exercising will be a really positive aspect to incorporate into your lifestyle. You know that it will make you look better and feel better, mentally and physically. Understanding this is a great first step. But remember, if you are not used to exercising, going to a legs, bums and tums or full-body burn class is going to be a big shock. Being screamed at by an instructor to do five more squats while you’re lying on the floor, gasping for air and watching everyone else around you keep up easily, is bound to be a horrible feeling. Many people start off their resolutions this way and ruin their potential because they’ve jumped in at the deep end.
Don’t lose hope.
Set yourself a realistic goal instead. Understand that you are new at this and that’s ok! Instead of telling yourself you’re going to go to the gym every day and go through complete agony, just say you’re going to go once or twice every week for the next few weeks. Find a specific fitness regime that works for you, and just stick with that. Core Collective is an ideal place to do this. Priding themselves on pursuing self-improvement, not perfection, this relaxed, welcoming space is home to some of London’s finest trainers and has a range of different bespoke classes, made to suit the individual. Another plus is their pay-as-you-go system, which means you won’t have to go to the gym every day to make your spending worthwhile. Again, if you’re looking for an effective one-on-one experience, with a reputation for delivering training sessions with elite athletes and international sports teams, Reach Fitness is London’s leading gym for personal training. An ideal place to be pushed to your personal best, and execute a specific individual goal.
While you’re working to achieve your goal, remember to stop comparing yourself to those that have been exercising for years. Because if you work slowly but steadily, you’ll suddenly find that keeping up with all the gym bunnies isn’t so hard anymore.
Be Kind to yourself.
As humans, we are often so self-critical. It’s hard not to beat yourself up when you get things wrong. While trying to achieve your New Year’s resolutions, it’s important to remember to check in with yourself, and to be kind to yourself. Of course, persistence is key, but if you are trying to give up chocolate and slip up while the box of after eights is being passed around after a dinner with friends, don’t worry about it! Don’t be too self-critical. Research shows that self-compassion enhances an optimistic state of mind. And with optimism and self-love, you’ll be much better equipped to get back on track with your resolution. Always remember, tomorrow is always another day! Onwards and upwards.
By the way, being kind to yourself can also include finding a delicious alternative to chocolate to nibble on instead! Why not make a day of it, and head on down to Partridges Food market to find a sweet (or savoury) substitute.
Set a goal that Motivates and Excites you.
There couldn’t be anything worse than setting yourself a New Year’s Resolution that you just know isn’t for you. For example, if you think that Kale is disgusting, then it probably isn’t a wise decision to tell yourself that you’re going to make and drink a Kale smoothie every day for a month. Even though you know it’s good for you, the motivation just won’t be great enough for this to be a sustainable goal. Instead, set yourself a goal that excites you. For example, learn two new healthy recipes that are both tasty and nutritious, that you will make yourself for dinner two nights out of a working week. Mimo London cookery school is the perfect place to do this. Located in the buzzing culinary hub of Borough Market, one can take cooking classes led by expert chefs in a range of different cuisine. Armed with new knowledge from classes such as these, it might be an idea to invite friends over to eat with you on those two nights a week. This way, you will be putting your newly learnt skills into practice, fulfilling your taste buds, benefitting your health and sharing the excitement of it with your friends. It will motivate you to continue.
Practice being Grateful.
During January, it’s easy to think about what we don’t have: the killer bod, the ideal relationship, enough free time. Life isn’t perfect, and neither are we, but remembering the importance of gratitude is important while trying to achieve our goals. For example, if you’re heading to the gym and already feeling unmotivated, remember how lucky you are to even be able to work out, and to do something incredible for your body and mind. Many people are too unwell to do so. Similarly, if it’s a Friday night and you’re feeling irritable that you can’t have that glass of red wine, or two, remember how you’re going to feel tomorrow. No headache, fresh, ready to take advantage of the day ahead. Sometimes a little change in perspective is you need to feel happy about the path you are currently on and to remember why you set your goal in the first place.
With these tips in mind, I hope that this year, you won’t view setting a New Year’s resolution as a chore, but as a chance to make a change to your life. Even if you don’t think that something as small as choosing to take the stairs instead of the lift, walking the dog yourself instead of hiring a dog walker, or eating a bit better will make a change, in time you will see the results.
Making just one small change can mean embracing new opportunities, giving yourself the chance to meet new people, have new experiences and realise the potential that you have always had within, to be the best version of you.