Why Improving Your Health In The New Year Isn't About Reinventing Yourself
by Jake Gifford
As we spend the last few days of 2017, no doubt a shroud of guilt about the inevitably of indulging in plenty of food and drink has descended upon you. As a consequence you’ve now made losing weight one of your “new year, new you” resolutions.
Whilst initiating positive change and taking action in getting healthier is something that should always be encouraged and applauded, more often than not we miss the forest for the trees in an attempt to reinvent ourselves and who we inherently are through the medium of what we believe constitutes as a healthy lifestyle.
I have no doubt that if you use Facebook as a social platform, you will have seen the latest classes, ‘belly blasting programs’ and 21 day detox systems that promise claims of a ‘new you’ and that they’ll induce massive change to your body, mind and lifestyle. It’s understandable how one might get sucked into such claims and feel that these will solve your body shape woes. However ask yourself are these what you truly believe will help you with your new years resolutions?
The problem with new years resolutions is that we tend to rely on willpower to instigate action and maintain a health kick for as long as we can. We never tend to have a solid plan, we just tell ourselves to go to the gym, run and ‘eat healthy’ which has so many connotations there are always going to be conflicting messages from professionals with different beliefs.
Willpower is a finite resource that we can't rely on for long-term change.
There are two innate problems with our dependency on will power and the need to throw everything but the kitchen sink in the beginning; one is that willpower is not infinite and we can often deplete it quite quickly. The other is that we fail to recognise or appreciate the positive changes we make pursuit of a healthier lifestyle.
With regards to willpower, as the clock strikes midnight and the new year ticks over, we suddenly get this surge of motivation to go hard in the gym and eat salads all day long in order to shed the holiday weight and create a healthier lifestyle. Our intentions are to create a permanent change because we are motivated to do so, but how often does that last and how do we feel when we encounter obstacles and barriers in front of what we intended to achieve?
When we encounter difficulty or hardship, more often than not we quit because we don’t believe we can meet out expectations or achieve our desired result or that what we realise that when we lose weight our issues with self-confidence and happiness never seem to disappear.
The initial excitement associated with New Years resolutions is often short-lived and followed by disappointment.
After a few weeks of committing to some sort of diet and exercise routine we may often be disappointed that we haven’t met our expectations or we start to doubt ourselves and compare what we’ve achieved to others’ progress.
What we should be doing is recognising our progress, making peace with food and stop being so damn hard on ourselves.
As the title of this article aforementioned though, new years isn’t a time to completely reinvent yourself. Living a healthier lifestyle isn’t necessarily about a complete overhaul, rather making small adjustments to your current lifestyle and trying to enhance it through exercise, improved eating patterns and a heightened sense of wellbeing. It’s more about improving yourself, using what you currently have and enriching your lifestyle rather than making yourself miserable and turning yourself into something you’re not.
Longevity isn't about making a massive overhaul of your lifestyle or an all or nothing approach. It's about being realistic and making small changes you're capable of doing.
You don’t have to be obsessed with a healthier lifestyle to enjoy it and you certainly don’t need to spend your money on overzealous programs, complicated cookbooks or detox products. You need to take a step back, focus on one thing at a time and find ways to weave it into your lifestyle that doesn’t make you loathe the process. If that’s something you struggle with, then don’t do it alone, find a friend, family member or hire a coach to help you with the process.
Stop trying to reinvent yourself in 2018 and focus on enhancing your lifestyle by getting 1% better each day by working on a few habits at a time, being part of a community and reflecting on the process. You don’t have to get things perfect straight away but being consistent even during the tougher times will ensure you reap the results you seek.
- Don't adopt an all-or-nothing approach if you're looking for long term changes.
- You don't need to feel guilty for your food behaviours over Christmas, be glad you enjoyed the food and move on.
- Don't resort to quick fixes or fads, the new year is rife with them.
About the Author
Jake Gifford, MSc is a personal trainer based in Amersham, Buckinghamshire. Jake encourages people to reject diet culture and discover the benefits of exercise beyond the way you look. You can also find him on Instagram @thephitcoach