"New Year, New Start", "New Year, New Me", "This Is the Year I Lose 2 Stone"
How many times have we heard variations of these at the starts of each new year? It's the ideal time for setting new goals and plans, but often the resolutions made in the quest for a 'healthier you' can actually hinder and keep you further from your goal!
Here we lay out resolutions not to make for 2017, and suggest alternatives that could actually help you towards your health & wellbeing goals...
1) DON'T swap full sugar drinks for diet versions – Diet drinks may not contain sugar but are usually packed with artificial sweeteners instead. Most studies now show that artificial sweeteners can still cause weight gain, and are also commonly associated with a whole host of other unwanted side effects. DO swap sugary drinks for pure fruit juice diluted with water, or better still, plain filtered water instead.
2) DON'T choose margarine instead of proper butter – For years now fats have been labelled the bad guys, hence why many choose to replace butter with margarine or similar non-butter spreads. They may well be lower in fat but it’s an artificial type of fat that your body probably doesn’t know what to do with. And your body does actually need the fats found in butter, just in small amounts. DO stick with proper butter and just use a bit less.
3) DON'T keep your goals secret in case you don’t achieve them – Telling other people about your goals is a great way to help you stick to them. It adds another layer of commitment and makes it much more likely to happen. So if you’re serious about making some positive changes, don’t keep it quiet! DO spread the word instead – this will increase your chances of success.
4) DON'T give up alcohol / chocolate / caffeine – If you’ve decided your health would benefit from having less of any or all of the above it’s not necessarily a good idea to vow to give it up completely all in one go (unless it’s a serious problem). You’re much more likely to succeed if you do this in a series of smaller steps. DO choose a small goal to start with and build slowly from there. For example, cut your caffeine intake by one third as a first step.
5) DON'T always choose zero fat products – Unfortunately, zero fat or low fat products (like yoghurt) are usually packed with sugar and or artificial sweeteners to compensate for the lack of taste. DO choose the full fat versions and just eat a bit less.
6) DON'T make hundreds of new friends on social media – No matter how many friends you have on social media they will never compare to the real friends that you meet up with, have a coffee and a chat in person. With depression, anxiety and even more devastatingly, suicide rates on the rise, it’s never been more important to nurture a good support network of real friends. Connecting with others in person is known to be an important way to keep your mood up. DO nurture your friends in person, not on facebook.
7) DON'T eat less to lose weight – To lose weight, most people actually need to eat more not less. It’s the quality of food not the quantity that’s most important when it comes to losing weight, so DO eat regularly (3 meals and 3 snacks daily). This is absolutely crucial when it comes to encouraging your body to let go of fat.
8) DON'T stop eating nuts and seeds, because they’re 'full of fat' – Nuts and seeds are powerhouses of nutrition; they do contain fat but most often they contain essential fats that are lacking from Western diets. DO eat more nuts and seeds not less if you want to improve your health.
9) DON'T cut out snacks – Eating regularly is crucial for weight loss and can help to reduce cravings for sugary drinks and snacks too. Nutritious snacks can be a useful aid then if your goal is to lose a few pounds. Unfortunately crisps, biscuits and chocolate don’t count as nutritious snacks! DO choose a piece of fruit and a handful of nuts, hummus and carrot sticks, nut butter and oatcakes or even yoghurt and some berries.
10) DON'T ditch the yoga and do more cardio instead – In our fast-paced Western lifestyle it’s never been more important to plan in a regular time for deep relaxation practices. Chronic stress has become a major problem and often lies at the root of many common chronic diseases. And whilst heart pumping cardio workouts are great for you, it’s important to have a healthy balance that includes more relaxing types of exercise as well. DO choose regular forms of relaxation such as yoga and mindfulness to help to keep you balanced, and minimise the negative effects of daily stress.