A happy and healthy New Year

PUBLISHED: 05:28 26 January 2015

Sticking to New Year's resolutions

Sticking to New Year's resolutions


Our new health columnist Dr Matt Piccaver, an East Anglian GP, gives us his advice on making and sticking to New Year’s resolutions.

Every year I make a New Year’s resolution to get fit and stay fit. This usually lasts until about half way through my first day back at work after New Year’s Day. The incessant tide of misery and suffering that I’m expected to deal with, plus the ever increasing morass of paper work and endless government initiatives, mean my best laid plans don’t last the morning.

But this year will be different. Although I’m pretty sure I said that last year.

If, like me, you’re full of good intentions, then by the time you’re reading this, quite possibly our dreams of a fit and healthy 2015 will have derailed already. I’m probably eating a biscuit as we speak!

Despite the years of training, and a head stuffed full of medical facts, I find it hard to stick to my plans. What can we do to make sure we make our resolution and stick to it?

Changing our behaviour takes time, and the temptation is to expect rapid changes in our patterns of exercise or diet, and therefore rapid changes in our waistline. If we don’t succeed rapidly, we all too often give up.

Here are a few tips to get you started:

1 Get SMART. Often the realm of management consultants and company away days, SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely. So if you want to lose weight, specify how much, weigh yourself (not too often), pick an easy amount of weight to lose, and set yourself a realistic time-frame. Pick a goal that’s right for you.

2 Concentrate on the one thing that will help you change. We often get caught up with the vastness of the task at hand. Break every big problem down into a little one. Each little problem solved will contribute to your final goal.

3 Write things down. Studies have shown that writing down your aims can mean you are more likely to achieve them.

4 Tell someone, or indeed everyone, about your goal. In the days of almost permanent, constant self-broadcasting via social media, this may be quite easy. Broadcast your success and your failures. The reinforcement of our peers can often be very helpful.

5 Keep it simple. The more complex a goal, and the solution for that matter, the more likely we are to fail.

6 Don’t be to harsh on yourself. We are often our own worst critic. If we fail or stumble, this often leads to disappointment, and once again, we’ll give up. Accept your fallibility, and start all over again.

These tips are by no means exhaustive, but by breaking down our problems and aiming for sensible and achievable outcomes, we may one day be the person we want to be.

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