It’s no surprise that following the blow out and over-eating of Christmas that many of our New Year’s resolutions revolve around becoming healthier. And while it’s admirable, a knee-jerk reaction to one too many mince pies is not a foundation on which to build a new, healthy regime for 2015.
The clue to a successful New Year’s resolution is in the name – it’s a resolution for the year, not the first two weeks of January. As with any health regime, it’s about balance, longevity and commitment. A good tip is to write your resolutions down and stick them to the fridge as a daily reminder.
Here we look at the most popular healthy resolutions and give you some tips on how to keep your good intentions going until next year.
I will…exercise more
It’s a popular one and one that makes sense. After all those Christmas dinners and nothing much to look forward to in January, doing more exercise seems like a good way to get through the dark, cold days. And although running in the frosty air might be off-putting, there are still plenty of options out there from squash, swimming, joining a gym, Zumba, joining a kickboxing club or simply doing some sit-ups in your bedroom.
How to keep it going: Make yourself a seasonal exercise calendar, focusing on indoor activities in the winter months, heading outdoor for spring, then to an air-conditioned gym in the height of summer. Also, finding yourself an exercise buddy is a great way to stay motivated.
N.B. If you have not done any exercise for many years, or are over 40, you should get checked by your doctor before beginning an exercise regime.
I will…eat better and lose weight
Leading on from the first one, this puts its finger on one of our main health issues – weight loss. By adjusting your diet to cut down on saturated fats and upping your intake of fruit and vegetables, you could make 2015 a healthy one.
How to keep it going: Take it slowly by introducing one meat free meal a week. Then slowly try and increase your vegetable intake. Find a few healthy recipes and master them. Try giving yourself something to look forward to, like hosting a healthy eating, alcohol-free dinner party for your friends. Doctors also recommend that you eat fish at least three times a week.
I will…drink less alcohol
Alcohol, especially when drunk in excess, can cause all sorts of health issues and Christmas is a time of excess. Following in the footsteps of Sober October, there is now Dry January. However, it’s worth having a look at your overall drinking levels. Find out exactly how much you drink per week and when and where you drink it.
How to keep it going: Joining in with something like Dry January is a great way to reduce your drinking in the short-term. For longer term solutions, give yourself realistic targets. It’s no use saying you’re going to quit completely and then, when you have one glass of wine, to feel like you’ve failed. Cut your drinking to five units a week, then see if you can drop that further. You should always have at least two alcohol-free days a week.
I will…stop smoking
This is a big one and one that’s probably the most difficult to manage. Studies have found that after 24 hours without a cigarette your lungs start to clear, after two days your body is nicotine-free. After one year your heart attack risk is half that of a smoker and after 10 years your lung cancer risk is half that of a smoker. So, it’s clearly worth going for it.
How to keep it going: Will power. On top of that, use all the other tips above. Get your friends to help you, give yourself realistic targets of maybe cutting your smoking by half by the end of January. Also, it’s worth noting when you smoke most and then finding something else to do at those times. Or, you could put away the money you would be spending on smoking and treat yourself every month.