IMG_0567How can your New Year’s resolutions be more effective? Written by Rebecca Nicholas, owner and principle chiropractor at Back 2 Balance.

Wikipedia’s definition of a New Year’s resolution, is a commitment that a person makes, to one or more personal goals, projects, or the reforming of a habit. People committing themselves to a New Year’s resolution generally plan to do so for the whole following year. This lifestyle change is generally interpreted as advantageous.

iStock_000041800086LargeOnly a very small percentage of people that start a resolution will actually finish it and get the results they want. Many of us have made the commitment with all the best intentions…..but apparently just one in 11 will still be going to the gym or cutting back on alcohol in 6 months time. Almost 4 in 10 people will break their New Year’s resolutions within a fortnight (cancer research uk). Saying all of that, research does say that people who make resolutions are 10 times more likely to attain their goals than people who don’t explicitly make them.

One study found that people often blame lack of willpower for their failure. One comforting and important fact is that having strong will power is not something we’re born with as opposed to popular opinion.

Change is difficult, yet as hard as it is, everyone has the ability to make and keep meaningful changes in their life, regardless of their age, or how well worn their habitual ways of engaging in the world.

A study done by the university of Bristol said that men were more likely to achieve their goal when they engaged in goal setting, while women succeed more when they got support from their friends. You can greatly increase your odds of being one of the successful people by simply understanding why resolutions fail, and then taking action to work around these problems.

Below are 8 strategies for achieving your goals, researched from several sources. Indeed there’s a science to success when it comes to achieving goals and making life changes whether its on january 1st or any other time of the year. Why wait for a specific date? If you want to do it, just do it!

1) Narrow your efforts. Trying to do too many things all at once makes you unfocussed. Set yourself up for success and start with just one major undertaking (your brain actually can’t cope too well with too many things). Take baby steps- break the goal into simple bite size tasks, that you can easily achieve.

2) Know your why. For resolutions to stick it has to be aligned with your core values. You have to be truly passionate about the goals you set for yourself. If not, then when the going gets tough, and you have to get up early to do your 2 min meditation or 30 min gym session, you won’t have the resolve to stick to your plan. You need an emotional “anchor” to give you the behavioural leverage to get there. Are you losing weight to feel better about yourself? To improve your longevity? To be more physically attractive? To compete with a sibling or friend? To go to a class reunion or wedding? Figure out your top reason for wanting to achieve that goal and use that reason as leverage to guide you in that direction.

3) Be specific. Eat better, get fitter, be happier etc are doomed for failure because they lack specificity. Describe your goals in ways that allow you to track your progress and measure your success. Track your progress. Take a photograph of yourself and measurements. Remember to fill out a daily food diary. BE HONEST as the only one you deceive is yourself. Self monitoring is vital to any kind of resolution and there is no excuse- there are plenty of new tools and gizmos out there on the internet (apps, websites, etc).

4) Don’t just think it, ink it. Writing down a goal increases the probability of achieving it by over 70%. Write the specific goal and how you will feel when you’ve accomplished it. After this, write down on sticky pads, words that inspire you most about your goal and put them around your home/office to remind you of why you are committed to doing what it really takes to bring your goal into reality.

5) Design your environment. Never underestimate the power of your environment to support or sabotage your success. Design it so that it’s hard not to do what you resolved to achieve. Create a progress chart, recruit a cheer squad among your family and friends, find someone to hold you accountable, hire a trainer, join a group, write a blog. Likewise, if there are people who pull you down or make you go off track, address them directly and set boundaries you need up front. Decide if being around those people are going to help you achieve your goals or not. It’s very important to discuss your goals with your immediate family and get their support. If you’re trying to lose weight, they need to refrain from baking cookies and filling the house with that aroma, for example. They need to verbally support your efforts and not tease you or discourage you. Have a serious talk before you begin. People around you will either support you or tear you down. You have to ignore their negativity (it’s usually their own issues and lack of self confidence) and focus on your true goal of being healthy. Forget what anyone else thinks all the time, we are all so concerned about other people, that we forget our goal is for us and us only. Surround yourself with people that you want to be like, i.e. fit healthy people. These people can be a source of inspiration and encouragement. Don’t surround yourself with people who are unfit/unhealthy, they are like that because of their life choices and attitude- they will not help support and motivate you as much as you need.

6) Focus on the process. It’s easy to get caught up in an initial wave of enthusiasm, only to come crashing down when your initial efforts don’t produce immediate and amazing results e.g. if you want to become more fit, focus on being able to jog a little bit further every time you go for a walk, rather than being able to run 5 miles within a week. Persistence always pays off.

7) Forgive your failures. Your setbacks and failures will not define your success in the year ahead or any year. How you respond will! If you happen to mess up, don’t beat yourself up. When it comes to slipping up, you are in good company. It happens to everyone. Just don’t let them mean more than they do. Reflect on the lessons they hold, make adjustments accordingly, then just get ‘back on the bike’. Don’t overreact to a lapse e.g. don’t think that just because the day’s diet is blown, you may as well finish the whole tub of ice-cream, thereby doing far more damage than the original lapse.

8) Positive feedback and rewards increase your chance of success e.g. treating yourself to an unhealthy snack after several days of successful healthy eating is more appropriate if you want to continue with the healthy eating long term. Reward yourself often- if your waist line shrinks, splurge on new clothes. If you feel deprived you want it all the more, therefore all diets should include a small amount of your favourite foods. If you want to do it this way and have a little bit of what you crave, try the healthier option e.g. if you are craving chocolate, eat a couple of squares of >85% cocoa chocolate rather than a dairy milk.

If you’re going to set some weight management goals, I strongly advise you to first take care of all the basics by asking yourself these nine powerful questions:

To be clear, there are many reasons why people put on extra body weight, including under-active thyroid, sugar addictions, trace minerals depletion, vitamin D deficiencies and more.

#1) Are you taking enough vitamin D yet? Without vitamin D, weight loss almost never works. (suggested 5,000 – 10,000 IUs daily but you should research the right dose for you).

#2) Have you stopped drinking liquid sugars yet? If you’re still drinking corn syrup and/or fizzy drinks, forget about weight loss.

#3) Are you consuming enough fresh fruit and vegetables? Are you juicing yet? You’ll need to do both of these things on a regular basis. Lack of Nutrients. Your body will lack certain nutrients. The brain sends your body “feed me signals” when it needs calories, if you do not eat a nutrient dense diet you will go over your calorie allowance. Do not binge eat- eating nothing and then eating rubbish is also not the best way to go about losing weight. Apart from confusing your body somewhat, you also are not giving your body the nutrients it deserves. You may still consume the same number of calories but not all calories are the same and your body knows which ones it can use and which ones they can’t.

#4) Are you exercising yet? You’ll need a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise every day to start dropping pounds. This can be brisk walking, swimming or cycling. Weight training is also very valuable if you do it safely. Exercise must be included. It doesn’t mean rush off and join a gym. Try some simple tips like get off the bus one stop earlier than you would normally. Use the stairs instead of lifts and escalators. Park furthest away from the supermarket entrance.

#5) Have you addressed the emotional reasons why you overeat? Inside every person who isn’t happy with their body weight is someone who still has some emotional stuff to work out. Get some support from friends, family or professionals. Find out WHY you tend to overeat. Explore your habits and behavioral patterns. Are there certain things that trigger over-eating?

#6) Do you have enough trace minerals in your system? Many people who crave “salty snacks” are actually extremely deficient in minerals. They crave salt (minerals), but they misinterpret the craving as a desire to eat empty calories. Your body needs a certain level of minerals to function, and when it lacks those minerals, it will generate internal cravings to motivate you to try to find them. People who make an effort to eat foods rich in trace minerals (and quality full-spectrum salts) often find their cravings for salty snacks literally vanish.

#7) Have you committed the TIME to realistically accomplish your weight loss goals? You’ll need to set aside the time for exercise as well as time for fresh food preparation. Figure a minimum if one hour per day, and it can easily be two hours total. Your goals also take time to reach. Do not expect to lose 10lb in a week. It took a long while for you to put on the weight. 1-2llb is the right amount to lose. 1llb a week is 52lb a year!! You must also realise that when you go from eating your favourite foods of pizza and such like, the shock of eating fish and chicken on your taste buds is unacceptable. Persevere and let your taste buds adapt.

#8) Prepare yourself to be hungry and know that it’s okay. If you eat every time you feel hungry, you will never achieve your weight loss goals. Dropping excess body fat will absolutely require experiencing feelings of hunger. Know that hunger does not mean you are dying. You’re gonna be fine. Don’t let your body trick you into thinking you desperately need to intake more calories. Become familiar with a bit of hunger and learn to live with it during your weight loss journey. It’s okay to feel hungry! Cowboy up and move on. However, a life long change in lifestyle will not permit you to eat nothing but one lettuce leaf. It is not sustainable so don’t even try to lose weight this way. Yes you will probably lose weight initially, but for one, your body will go into starvation mode and as soon as you begin to eat again, store it all as fat stores. Secondly, you need the nutrients from different food sources and that requires you to eat. Any diet that limits the amount of food too much is not the right one as you cant do this forever. Your body will just ping back to its ‘pre diet’ weight and shape once you go back to eating the way you have always done.

#9) Do Not diet … Change your ‘lifestyle’. Dieting is faddy, and as soon as you are on a diet you crave certain foods that are bad for you. Adjust the wording and your thoughts.

As a final thought, beware of health claims that if you take this pill or just eat this one food you will lose this much weight. Don’t believe the pictures either! Companies are very good at advertising and marketing, and statistics can be used very effectively. There is no such thing as an easy or quick way to lose weight but lifestyle changes can get you the life you want. Just go get it, you CAN do it.

Please comment below things that you’ve found useful in setting goals, be it losing weight, getting stronger at the gym, training for the marathon etc. If you could help someone by giving them some of your experience what would you say to them?