We’re always told that January is about changing our lives. Setting incredible goals. Challenging ourselves. Pushing firmly out of our comfort zones. and in return, we’ll be better people. Lighter, faster, more focused, more organised, more mindful. The trouble is this – New Year’s Resolutions never work. Setting some drastic, unattainable ideal is a fast route to stress, misery and beating ourselves up because we ate a sausage roll rather than a salad or failed to properly Marie Kondo our sock drawer. Small slip-ups become major derailments that become endings. Willpower is hard to come by. So, is there an answer? Or all we all doomed to repeat and endless cycle of promises to ourselves that fail to materialise?
The answer, it seems, can be found in our approach. Specifically, in Dave Brailsford’s approach. The Team Sky manager took our cycling stars from middle of the road to superstar Tour De France winners, all using a system of incremental gains – he described this as ‘the 1 per cent margin for improvement in everything you do’. His belief was that if everything across the board improved by just a tiny one per cent, the collective gains would be huge. History has proved the power of this approach, and you can leverage the same principles to finally crack those bad habits and make real, measurable progress against those looming 2018 goals. So whether your aim is to stop bulk ordering at Vapeshop or to drop a dress size or two, this approach could hold the key to finally achieving that long-held ambition.
It all starts with simple swaps. Easy, almost painless substitutions for the unhealthy habits and mindsets that collectively undermine your New Years Goals. It’s vital to start small- begin with the least difficult change, and keep going, swapping out your minor bad options for good ones. Many make the mistake of thinking that a goal is one big commitment. It’s actually a series of commitments and choices, made during the course of an average week, that really adds up.
Swap The Lift For The Stairs
This one is as old as the hills – but for good reason. We may have good intentions about taking the stairs, but come Monday morning, we’re running late, we’re exhausting before we’ve even begun and we automatically head for the lift. Reprogram your brain to head for the stairs. Repeated across the week, it adds up to a major additional calorie burn.
Swap a Protein Bar for A Homemade Snack
Protein bars and shakes have become enormously popular over the last few years. Quick to grab, nicely packaged and seemingly healthy, they actually hide a multitude of sins, from excess sugar to chemical nasties. Swap them out for some home made protein hits – a sliced apple with a teaspoon of peanut butter, a hard boiled egg or a cup of plain Greek yoghurt is almost as easy to grab, just as tasty and far better for you.
Swap Fruit Juice and Smoothies for Fresh Fruit
As above, seemingly healthy juices and smoothies actually aren’t so good for you. Eating the whole fruit provides many more vitamins and nutrients plus a hit of fibre that will stave off hunger for far longer.
Swap Eating In Front of the TV for At the Table
Eating in front of our latest Netflix addiction may seem conforming, but the distraction of a gripping show stops your brain signalling to your stomach when you are full, which means you will overeat. Studies show that people who eat at the table are fuller sooner and consume less calories.
Swap The Gym For the Great Outdoors
It may seem hard when the weather is at it’s chilliest, but if you want to turbo-charge the benefits of your workout session, take it outdoors. Not only will exercising in the cold burn more calories, but it will also help lift your mood and combat stress and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). It can even help you sleep better by resetting your Circadian Rhythms. So instead of hitting the gym, try shifting to your local park instead and enjoy the fresh air.
Swap Sorry For Thank You
How many times a day do you say ‘sorry’? It becomes a reflex, a well intentioned but slightly meaningless platitude that actually diminishes us. Why not try appreciation over apologies? Turn it all around. Instead of saying ‘sorry I’m late’ say ‘thank you for waiting for me’. It has the power to shift your state of mind and that of other people, by letting them receive your gratitude rather than a dose of negativity.