Health & wellbeing

9 tips to achieve your New Year weight loss goals

The 9 golden rules for successful personal goal setting.

After a festive spell of eating, drinking and general merriment, a lot of us see January as an opportunity to start working towards our weight loss goals.

But no matter how good our intentions are at the beginning of our journey, often we find our motivation or willpower waning with time. Have you ever noticed that your local gym is bursting at the seams in January, and numbers tail off dramatically throughout the year? Or that your kitchen is stocked with fresh ingredients for the first few weeks of the year, but the junk food creeps back in by February?

Here are 9 things you can do to increase the likelihood of making new healthy habits last the year - and beyond.

1. Make your intentions public

Share your resolution with friends and family so they can support you on your journey. Or use social media to connect with people who have similar goals to yours. Having a solid support network around you can really help you stay motivated and on track.

2. Write it down 

Having a clearly articulated goal and a plan of action is essential for success. Writing your intentions down could help to reinforce them, especially if you pin them up on the fridge or somewhere in plain sight.

3. Keep things simple

Taking on too much can be detrimental to your weight loss journey. Keep goals realistic, and remember to celebrate small victories. For example, if you want to lose 50lbs, set five 10lb (or ten 5lb) incremental weight loss goals and celebrate each success. You're more likely to stay motivated and reach your goal weight.

4. Eat mindfully

Mindful eating can be a useful weight loss technique. Try to eat meals free from distractions (like your phone and the TV) and take time to savour each mouthful, noticing the taste, flavour and texture of your food. This also helps you eat more slowly, giving your brain more time to recognise when you're full, and reducing the likelihood of overeating.

5. Mark your achievements

Each time you make a small lifestyle change aimed at reaching your goal (adding five minutes to your daily walk, for instance) reward yourself with a little treat - it could be anything from a new item of clothing to a nice glass of wine. You can also mark your progress on a wall chart.

6. Make small changes

If weight loss or a healthier lifestyle is your goal, keep fruit and veggies at the front of the fridge and stash the digestives out of sight. Other ideas: try a new food each week (like tofu, Heck sausages or a new vegetable), walk when you’d normally take the car, and start steaming and baking food instead of frying.

7. Tap into the power of a streak

Let’s say you keep your resolution for a week, or two weeks, or a month. That’s a great streak and you can let it drive you (“I really want to do X, but I’m not breaking my streak”). And if something happens to force you to break it? Start a new streak!

8. Gradually develop healthy habits

Slow and steady wins the race, and there are lots of small changes you can implement over a defined time period to make big steps towards better health. For example, you could: drink water before meals, eat eggs (or another high quality protein) for breakfast, use smaller plates, cut down on sugar in your tea, lift weights for ten minutes a day or go to bed earlier. Making small changes over time is much more attainable than trying to change everything in one go.

9. Buddy up

Buddying up with a friend or family member with a similar goal can help reinforce your resolution. You could also appoint an accountability manager (perhaps someone you live with) to keep an eye on your progress. Make sure it's someone who wants to see you succeed!