The leftover turkey has finally disappeared, and all those tins of Christmas chocolates have long been eaten. After a festive spell of eating, drinking and general merriment, many people see January as an opportunity to lose weight, by eating better and moving more.
But 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?
While this is completely normal, there are things you can do to increase the likelihood of sticking to your resolutions:
1. Make your intentions public
Share your resolution with friends and family so they can support you and help you stay on track. If you’re a WW member, you can also post in our social media network Connect and share your journey with others on the same road.
2. Write it down
Having a clearly articulated goal and a plan of action is essential for success. Writing it down can help to reinforce your goal, especially if you pin it up on the fridge where it’s visible. You could also try keeping a diary to log your food, activity and mood.
3. Keep things simple
Break a big goal into a series of smaller goals. Want to lose 50 pounds? Try losing 5 percent of your body weight first, or set five 10 pound incremental weight loss goals. Remember not to take on too much at once. For example, denying yourself your favourite treat at the same time as embarking on a new exercise regime could cause frustration and a lack of motivation.
4. Eat mindfully
Mindful eating can be a useful weight loss and mindfulness technique. Try to eat meals free from distractions like smartphones and the TV, and take the time to savour each mouthful, noticing the taste, flavour and texture of your food. If you’re a WW member, you’ll find a Headspace meditation exercise about engaging your sense while eating on the My Day screen of the app.
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 or mark your progress on a wall chart. WW members have their achievements marked with in-app notifications, certificates and small awards.
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 behind your morning porridge. Try a new food each week, 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 terrific 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. Drink water before meals, eat eggs (or another high quality protein) for breakfast, use smaller plates, switch regular tea for green tea, lift weights for 10 minutes a day, make time for movement, go to bed earlier, cut out sugary drinks. There are loads of small changes you can implement over a defined time period to make big steps towards better health.
9. Buddy up
Buddying up with a training partner or someone with a similar weight loss goal can help to reinforce your resolution (and share in your pain!). You could also appoint an accountability manager to keep an eye on your progress, such as a relative or a good friend who wants to see you succeed.