Losing weight is definitely one of the most popular New Year’s resolutions. Every holiday season, we are eating every 2 hours and are constantly full of delicious food. And every year we vouch that after this food coma is done, as soon as the new year comes through the door, we will magically be the best of ourselves. We will eat healthy, go to the gym, do that detox program and “get hot” when summer comes around to show off our abs. Unfortunately, this almost never happens, the 1st of January is like any other day, eating the delicious leftovers of last night’s party. Then the routine kicks in and we go back to our old habits.
What is the problem with New Year’s resolutions?
Losing weight and becoming fit is not the only New Year’s resolution around, but certainly the most popular! Other popular New Year’s resolution are becoming more organised, enjoying life to the fullest, travel more (so many places to see!), read more (better finish that super long reading list on Goodreads, eh?), learn new hobbies (hello impossible to learn German!). These are all things we wish for in the year that comes. But as 100% of us promises to achieve all those beautiful goals, less than 10% of us actually achieve them . Is it because we set our goals and expectations too high compared to what we can actually achieve? Perhaps you are a person that takes their time in achieving a goal, or you are simply not accounting for life happenings coming your way in the next 12 months. You cannot simply say “I will lose 10 kg by summer!”. If you know your routine, the pace of your life, you might want to adjust your expectations and goals (you feel me? You get this, right). While it would be a great challenge to completely change your routine and basically your life, this would take time and it’s possible that you will achieve your resolutions partially or maybe the next year.
Change the approach
I believe that the best approach to this New Year’s resolutions thing is to not have fixed numbers or anything too concrete. Change the “I will lose 10 kg in the next 3 months” to “ I want to be healthier next year”, meaning perhaps you will make more and more healthier food choices, you will start slowly an exercise routine that fits your schedule and budget. This way you will feel more confident with every healthy meal you eat and every mile you run. Do not look at the scale too often, you know it doesn’t tell the truth (but you can still look at it because you can’t help it).
If you plan on learning a new skill or brushing up on your language skills, sign up for a class, best if you are doing it with a colleague or a friend. That way you are holding each other accountable! Again, don’t tell yourself “I’ll be fluent in German this year because I lived in German speaking countries for so long I am ashamed of myself”. Be more like “I will go to German class once per week and I will improve my speaking and writing skills because the impossible will be achieved at some point”.
Keeping the New Year Resolutions
Ok, so now that you have vague, but at the same time very precise New Year’s resolutions (e.g. “losing weight” vs “getting healthier”), how do you start and keep it for the next 12 months, ideally for life? What works for me is less thinking. Yup, the more I overthink, the more sluggish I get and fall back to old eating habits. If I want to not overeat, I will tell my brain to make a green tea instead of eating a donut, so I will just leave it there. Let my body boil the water, add the tea then drink it. If I overthink, I will make a detour to the fridge and we all know I’ll be eating more than just a donut. Same with the language class (or even an online class) – add it to your calendar and simply stick to it. Do not overthink and be like – the weather is so cold or I prefer binge watching my favourite TV show – nop! Just move (or open that courser website), don’t think too much and that’s it! Once you’re in class, do your best to block out the noise that tells you to give up. Focus on the content and fall in love with it! You will feel so complete, so achieved afterwards, that you will be craving more. Same goes with exercise – I remember doing a HIIT on the bike at the gym. It was 15 minutes of pain and sweat. But just 15 minutes? I could do it. Not overthink about the actual activity minimized my hate for sports, and my body did the work.
Find what works for you
Is it keeping a journal? Keeping to do lists? Telling yourself in the morning that “You can do this!”? Find what works for you and explore! For some people, is intense pep talking to ones self in the mirror, for some, it’s this disconnect between body and brain to avoid overthinking and falling back to old routines.
What are your New Year’s resolutions and how do you keep them?