Sticking To Your New Year's Resolution

Research suggests that the majority of New Year's resolutions don’t last beyond February - it is important to understand why you can fail and how you can ensure you don’t fail this year!

Published: Wednesday 01 January 2020



Following the celebrations of Christmas and New Year's, you may now be looking to improve your health and well-being with a positive start to 2020! The turn of the new year can play an important role in identifying what you value, wish to prioritise and hope to improve in your life. Whilst New Year's resolutions are often easily made and notoriously hard to keep, this time of year is as promising as any to implement a positive behaviour change to support your personal development.

Common pitfalls of unsuccessful New Year's resolutions

Despite good intentions, research suggests that the majority of New Year's resolutions don’t last beyond February[1]. In order to improve your chances of keeping your New Year's resolutions, it is important to understand why they can fail and how you can ensure you don’t fail this year[2]:


  • Self control can be challenging
    Full commitment is essential to achieving your goal. You have to be willing and ready to change aspects of your lifestyle.
  • Targets are unrealistic
    Set simple, realistic and measurable goals. Don’t let a misjudged goal expectation cloud your progress.
  • Lack of social support
    Tell your friends and family to help them keep you in check! Possibly join a club, gym or social group where your goals are similar and you are surrounded by people who are similarly committed.
  • Lack of enjoyment and motivation
    Do what you can to make it enjoyable. Make your resolution competitive and exciting; don’t forget to reward good progress!
  • Failure to persist in spite of setbacks
    You may miss targets or experience setbacks; but don’t let them get to you. Regroup and try again until you succeed, this is an inevitable part of the process when trying anything new.

The most popular New Year's resolutions are focused around enhancing personal health and well-being[3]. Common subcategories consist of: losing weight, eating healthier, getting fitter, living a more stress free life, improving sleep quality, improving sexual health and improving mental health.

How do you successfully lose weight?

Losing weight can be difficult due to the high demand of willpower and often steady results. However, your approach to weight loss and the strategies you choose to employ can make a significant difference to the speed and extent of intended weight loss.

Diet

It is widely reported that a calorie deficit is essential to cause the body to metabolise or utilise the body’s excess fat stores for energy, resulting in weight loss. This deficit can be created by reducing calorie input (calorie restrictive diet) and/or increasing calorie expenditure (exercise or increased physical activity). The recommended daily calorie intake for men is 2500 kcal and for women it’s 2000 kcal; the difference of recommended daily calorie intake is due to sex differences in stature and metabolic activity[4]. Therefore, ensuring you regulate calorie intake is highly important, given that calorie dense foods high in sugar and fat are regularly available and often the most difficult to abstain from due to their appeal.

An effective method to reduce calorie intake may be to review your diet following a food diary. You can easily work out your daily/average calorie intake by recording the calorie information on from the food packaging. You can see if you are eating more than the recommended calorie intake and which foods you may choose to exclude. Furthermore, you can also highlight which foods you want to introduce to your diet as a healthy, low-calorie but appealing alternative.

Exercise

Exercise is crucial to losing weight. A minimum of 30 minutes low-moderate intensity physical activity, completed 5 times per week is recommended[5]. However, when starting out, it is important not to follow this guide too strictly, as it is generic and exercise programmes should be specific to the individual taking part. Specificity, is important as the exercise you choose to engage in should be enjoyable to you, realistic but challenging. Remember, weight loss is a process, therefore, it is so important to make your experience as appealing and enjoyable as possible.

Starting to exercise can be a daunting challenge. However, the encouraging fact about exercise is that it has a fast dose-response relationship[6]. This relationship explains that as exercise dose (intensity and duration) increases, the benefits from it are relative and will be significantly noticeable in the early stages where the body is responding to a marked change in physical activity; even if it is only a small increase in exercise dose. Therefore, quick results will be rewarded for persistence across a period of a couple of weeks. Furthermore, in addition to continued weight loss, the exercise itself will become easier, which will enable you to workout harder and lose weight faster!

Medication

If you are overweight and struggle with obesity you can be prescribed medication to improve your chances of successfully losing weight. Orlistat and Alli are clinically proven weight loss medications, they work be preventing the absorption of fat in the digestive system where it is passed out of the body naturally. Clinical trial data reported that roughly 67% of patients who took Orlistat alongside a low calorie diet successfully lost a minimum of 5% of their body weight after only 12 weeks. A further 62% of patients went on to continue to lose greater than 10% of their body weight after just one year of taking the medication.

How do effectively improve your fitness?

Regular exercise is necessary for increased fitness. Cardiovascular fitness is improved by elevating the heart rate through exercise to induce training adaptations in the body. These training adaptations are essential in reducing the risk of onset of metabolic disease and illness. Furthermore, increased cardiovascular fitness can positively improve your energy, exercise capacity and in turn, well being; especially if being physically active is a part of your life or important to other people in your life.

Resistance training can ensure you remain physically fit and healthy; it involves using resistance to strengthen the muscular system. If cardiovascular exercise does not immediately appeal to you, resistance training may be more suitable and equally effective at improving health and fitness. However, aerobic exercise (endurance training) is important for cardiovascular fitness and should be integrated into your weekly workout if you are aiming to improve overall fitness.

The SMARTER goal setting guide offers a useful plan to ensure your workout is optimal for your fitness based sessions: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound, Enjoyable and Rewarded[7]. Your session should be specific, tailored to your current ability. It should be measurable, so you can record progress/performance. Your session should be realistic and achievable. It should be relevant to your overall goal, this may be to lose weight, get stronger or be healthier. Time-bound means that your goal should be completed within a certain time period respective of your expectations. Your training schedule should be enjoyable to avoid demotivation; achievement of milestones and goals should also be rewarded and recognised.

How do you significantly improve your general health and wellbeing?

Sleep

Sleep quality is really important to well-being, it can be negatively influenced due to a lack of sleep duration, lack of sleep depth and other factors such as stress which can cause you to be restless. Exercise, meditation and lifestyle changes (e.g. earlier bedtime, abstaining from electronic devices late at night) are popular, recognised strategies to improve sleep quality and reduce fatigue.

Stress

Reducing daily stress is exceedingly important in preventing the onset of chronic stress and burnout syndrome. Chronic stress incurred due to an excessive stressful working/living environment can increase the risk of mortality by upwards of 30%[8]. Exercise, meditation, yoga, lifestyle changes, improved sleep and medication are all suitable stress relieving exercises.

Sexual Health

Sexual health can be a source of persistent stress; significantly negativley affecting your sex life. It is important to seek sexual treatments to improve your sex life; it may involve addressing sexually transmitted infections, treating erectile issues or premature ejaculation. One of the foremost advised approaches to improving sexual health is to be proactive; seeking fast, reliable advice and effective treatments are imperative to sexual health improvement.

Well-being

Your mental health and well-being is equally as important as your physical health status. Make 2020 the year that you focus on improving your mental health. The ‘Mind’ mental health charity is a reliable source for extensive advice and information to support you in improving your mental health.

Sources

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