Unfortunately, people often set themselves drastic and unrealistic resolutions that are only sustainable for a month or so at best. As a personal trainer, I see it all the time. Right after new year’s clients come to me wanting to train 6 days per week, they quit alcohol, cut out food groups and generally punish themselves for their decadence in December.
The statistics are bleak: only 8% of people who make new year’s resolutions stick to them and those who don’t usually abandon them after just one week. Overambitious resolutions are fated to fail; people don’t realise that it is completely unrealistic to think that you can immediately overcome a habit you’ve spent years establishing.
This quick fix approach to forming good habits is completely unsustainable and often does more harm than good. You end up sending a subconscious message to yourself, one that associates a balanced lifestyle with pain and agony. You’re also setting yourself up to fail by doing this, adding a load of unnecessary pressure which can lead to self-hate and more bad habits
If you want an effective habit forming strategy, you need to think about small daily changes over a long period. Not only is it more sustainable, it’s far more enjoyable!
How to Incorporate Small Changes
Try the 2 Meal Day
Fasting can improve energy levels, cognition and body composition. The 2-Meal Day is a very simple way of keeping your diet in check without the need for counting calories or tracking macronutrients. All you need to do is push your first meal later in the day and reap the rewards!
Training more than four times per week is completely unnecessary if you are pushing yourself in each session. What will make a difference to your fitness is incorporating movement throughout the day. You could easily set an hourly reminder to spend 5 minutes moving and stretching if you’ve been sitting for a while, choose (or maybe accept!) to stand on your commute, take the stairs and avoid the lift or escalator. Another way to build movement into your routine is to take your trainers to work and get off 1 or 2 stops early to walk or run the rest of the way home.
Incorporate 5-10-minute flexibility sequences into your daily routine; first thing in the morning and right before bed. Being consistent with this will make a big difference to your ability to move properly as you age.
Form new drinking habits
Having the odd drink here and there isn’t the issue, binge drinking 3 nights per week is. Unfortunately going teetotal for a month isn’t likely to do anything to break bad drinking habits. What you need to do is fundamentally change the way you drink. Try sipping your drink rather than necking it, aim to alternate between one alcoholic drink and one hydrating drink: a soda and lime for instance, but most importantly practice your sober social skills. This last point is incredibly empowering and can have a knock-on effect for self-esteem and self-confidence.
These are just a few examples of things you can try, the main point is to keep changes manageable so that you can sustain them over a long period. The number one rule is consistency: whether it’s forming new drinking habits, planning your gym routine or eating healthily, the changes you make should be manageable enough for you to keep them up well past the end of January!