How are those new year health goals you set yourself looking now that we’re into February? Have you stuck to them? Or did you fall off the wagon halfway through January?
The new year sees so many of us making resolutions and promises to ourselves to change bad habits and start healthy new ones. Typical resolutions may include going on a diet, starting a new fitness regime, or perhaps giving up something like smoking or drinking. And while introducing some new healthy habits is never a bad thing, it can be really tough going after the first couple of weeks. So much so, that the second Friday of January has now been dubbed ‘Quitter’s Day’, as research suggests this is the point our new habits start to wear a bit thin and we give up on them.
If you’ve managed to stick with them up to this point, but your motivation is now starting to drop, firstly well done you for making it this far. If you want to carry on, we’ve got some great advice to keep you on track, so that all of your hard work won’t go to waste.
Stay Away From The Cigarettes
Quitting a lifelong smoking habit is one of the hardest challenges a person may face. The addictive nature of nicotine makes going cold turkey incredibly difficult. And while to the eye of a non-smoker it may seem ridiculous that a person can’t just stop, for the smoker themselves it can be wrought with many not so nice side effects.
If you’re finding it harder and harder to resist the temptation to smoke, now might be the time to consider the use of a disposable vape. Growing evidence suggests that vaping through the use of an e-cigarette is an effective tool to help people quit smoking. They don’t burn tobacco like standard cigarettes, and also don’t produce tar or carbon monoxide, which are two of the most dangerous elements in tobacco smoke.
Aside from struggling with nicotine addiction, smokers may also struggle with suddenly having nothing in their hands; smoking acts as a kind of comfort, or stress relief to them. Using a vape pen means they still have something there, which will help with anxiety levels and should also help fight cravings.
Gym memberships always skyrocket during January. I mean it makes sense, right? We’ve just spent December pretty much eating and drinking whatever the hell we want and moving very little, unless perhaps to walk from the TV to the Quality Street tub, and then we get to January and surprise surprise our trousers feel snugger and our energy levels are close to zero. So, we do what every other person does… we sign ourselves up to a half price gym membership.
New year, new you. That’s what the adverts promise us. We see image after image of beautiful, toned, happy people working out in the gym and we think, “Yes, I could be like them”. And it starts off so well. We put on our new activewear (a Christmas present obvs.), we get given a workout plan, we’ve totally got this. But then a few weeks in, the novelty starts to wear off. Every bit of you aches, you’re tired because you’ve given up your lie ins for early morning gym sessions, and so far you can’t see any sign of the abs you were promised. This is NOT what you signed up for.
Let’s get real here for a minute. Fitness takes time. You can’t expect to go from zero to hero overnight. So cut yourself some slack and set some slightly more realistic fitness goals. Fitness isn’t just a quick fix thing, it’s a lifestyle. Exercise should be fun and slogging away at the gym really isn’t fun. As long as you’re taking the time to add movement into your day, every day, then that’s fine, You’re doing it!
Oh yes… the new year diet thing. Where we promise to cut out sugar, fat, and carbs, to throw away all the takeaway menus, and to sign up to Veganuary because well everyone’s doing it, so it’s got to be good. It’s the same old story though. We’re great for 2 weeks, I mean we’re basically still existing off all those excess Christmas calories, but then temptation and cravings start to come back with a vengeance.
Let me give you some advice… don’t cut everything out at once. It’s miserable. And honestly, January can be pretty miserable as it is without making it even worse for yourself. I live by the motto “a little bit of everything does you good” – with emphasis on the ‘little bit’ part. If you start denying yourself certain foods that you love your body will crave it even more, so unless you are gifted with the highest levels of willpower known to humankind, then please give yourself a break and have that biscuit if you want it. Just maybe don’t have the whole packet!
Mindful eating is all about taking your time with food, slowing down, taking time to chew your food properly, and observing the tastes and textures of each mouthful. Food should be enjoyed, it is one of life’s small pleasures, so make each mealtime a delightful ritual and fall back in love with all types of food again. We’ve become so accustomed to having food labelled as being ‘good’ or ‘bad’ and all this really serves to do is damage our relationship with food and encourage us to form this unnecessary food hierarchy. Tune into your body and it will tell you what it needs, what makes it feel good, what helps it to function correctly, and it is this that will help keep you on track with your new year health goals, not some faddy diet.
Everything In Moderation
If you chose to give up alcohol as one of your new year health goals, then you picked a good one. Because a) our livers could all do with a bit of a break after the battering we gave them over the festive season, b) no one goes out in January anyway, and c) we’ve got no money until payday. So well done, you picked an easy one.
If you’re just giving up alcohol for a bit, with no real intention of it being a forever thing, you just want to cut back after Christmas, then come on, it’s time to stop being so hard on yourself if you fancy a pint down the pub with your mates. Remember, the key to success is everything in moderation.
For some people however, giving up alcohol is incredibly difficult. It’s an addiction, and the pandemic has highlighted more than ever just how many of us use it as a coping mechanism for stress, anxiety, and other mental health concerns. If you want to give up alcohol for good and are struggling trying to do so on your own it’s time to reach out for help from others. There are lots of alcohol support groups dotted around the country and a quick Google search will tell you the details you need. Listening to others in a similar situation well help keep you on track. If you’re not keen on talking to a roomful of strangers, reach out to your friendship group. There may be others who feel the same as you and who are also struggling to stay off of the booze, but you won’t know unless you ask.
Setting yourself goals isn’t a bad thing; it’s important to set challenges and to recognise when bad habits have got out of control. But let’s make no bones here, it’s hard, really freaking hard to stay on track with them. Hopefully, by reading this it will give your motivation the boost it needs to stick at it and keep those new year health goals right on track.