The new year often starts with the best of intentions. But by the middle of the month, most of us have already begun to abandon the resolutions we made so resolutely on the first of January.
The cold, dark weather, the long wait until payday, and the desire to cheer ourselves up often means we let our plans slip and before we know it, we’re back where we started.
So, how can we really realise our goals? How can we protect ourselves from self-sabotage and make those resolutions a reality? Here are some of our favourite tips and tricks.
It’s not uncommon to throw ourselves into a new routine at full steam when we’re full of motivation. But trying to change too many things at once simply isn’t sustainable and can quickly turn into burnout.
Setting SMART goals is a great way to keep yourself on track. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely. By setting smaller goals with clear deadlines, you are more likely to see them through and, in turn, feel a sense of achievement that encourages you to keep going.
Pile on the positivity
When you’re trying to achieve a goal, exposing yourself to positive encouragement is a good way to keep your motivation high.
While social media can be inspiring, it can also feel demotivating as a lot of what we see simply isn’t realistic. Editing, filters and skewed timescales can make us feel that we’re failing when our own experiences don’t match up.
Don’t let your social feed discourage you. Follow accounts that promote realistic goals, healthy, sustainable changes, stories from real people and helpful information and resources.
Find it hard to muster up the motivation to exercise? Why not try a trick called temptation bundling. By combining a task that you don’t like with something you do like can make the activity seem less of a chore. For example, if there’s a podcast you love, try only allowing yourself to listen to an episode when you’re running, walking, or working out.
Everything in moderation
When we’re trying to lose a few pounds, we often start out far too strict, banning certain foods completely or replacing them with ‘diet’ versions. We may feel we’re being virtuous, but this can do more harm than good.
Fat-free versions of your favourite foods are often more processed than the full-fat versions and lack the important ingredients that trigger satiety. This means that after eating them, you feel less satisfied and end up craving, and sometimes eating, more overall than if you’d just allowed yourself a little of what you really wanted.
When we tell ourselves we ‘can’t’ have something, it’s inevitable that we’ll end up wanting it more. So, continue to allow yourself the foods you love in moderation and keep a track of your treats to make sure you’re not undoing your good work.
Build in rewards
While reaching your ultimate goal is the reward in itself, that target can often feel a long way away and a little unattainable. By building in little rewards along the way, you’ll acknowledge the smaller achievements and help close the gap to the finish line.
This could be a new item of clothing, a pampering treatment, or a trip somewhere – whatever makes you feel good about hitting your mini goals and helps you celebrate that achievement. Once you reach the main goal, continue to build in little maintenance milestones that keep you on track.
Check your intolerances
When it comes to food, even the healthiest options can cause problems.
Food intolerances, which can occur when your body’s immune system mistakes a food protein as a threat and releases antibodies to fight it, can cause inflammation that leads to a range of problems. Headaches, brain fog, skin complaints like eczema or acne, and joint pain are all reactions that can result from a food intolerance. IBS and bloating are particularly common complaints that could be getting in the way of your weight loss efforts.
It’s estimated that around 45% of the UK population has a food intolerance. Often, they go undetected for years, causing mild, but persistent and frustrating problems that stop you from feeling your best.
As you consider making changes to your diet, keep an eye on how your body reacts. If you notice some of those common complaints, it may be that something new you’ve introduced, or something you’re eating more of, is the cause.
Take control of your diet
Getting to the bottom of a food intolerance can be a frustrating process. A common recommendation is the elimination diet, where you remove one food at a time for a few weeks to see how you feel. But this can take a long time and, although many of us commonly react to a few different ingredients, the elimination diet is often abandoned when the first trigger food is found, leaving an incomplete picture of what’s causing the problem.
Get answers faster with Smartblood
When it comes to food intolerance testing, it’s important to do your research and choose a reputable laboratory testing company.
At Smartblood, we offer a comprehensive test to help you take control of your diet quickly and discover your own trigger foods.
Our home-to-laboratory service gives you fast, accurate results that pinpoint exactly which foods you are reacting to. Tests are completed in our accredited laboratory by trained experts, with clear, easy to understand results sent to you via email within three days.
Dedicated nutritional support
Our tests include a telephone consultation with our BANT registered Nutritional Therapist. This additional support is there to help you understand your results and put a plan together to make safe, sustainable changes to optimise your diet. If you’re looking to make changes this year to help you feel your best, your consultation is a great way to get helpful, healthy guidance.