The first week in January can be a time of mixed feelings: There’s the understandable sense of anti-climax following Christmas and the party season, coupled with the optimism of making a fresh start for the New Year.
That fresh start is often motivated by the battle scars of the party season: a few extra pounds on the weighing scales and clothes that suddenly seem to have shrunk. The usual response is either mild panic or a ridiculous sense of confidence that you can fix your entire life – waistline included – in the first couple of weeks in January.
This approach results in gyms packed with motivated, teetotal, non-smoking, diet-conscious, fitness freaks. And it usually lasts for about 3 weeks.
If this scenario sounds depressingly familiar to you, let’s look at why it’s not a great strategy for success and how you can improve on it.
As a species we tend not to like too much change: familiarity may breed contempt but change can stimulate fear and discomfort. Therefore if you try to introduce too many changes in lifestyle all at the same time, the chances are that you will experience a sense of loss or overwhelm that will make them extremely difficult to maintain.
A much more sensible approach would be to focus on one change at a time. It’s been estimated that habits can be formed in approximately 21-30 days, so if you can pick just 1 aspect of your life that you want to improve, and focus on that until it becomes a habit, you will be far more successful in sticking to it.
When it comes to weight loss, there are lots of areas that will help you to reach your goal:
- Eating smaller meals
- Eating more vegetables and protein
- Exercising more regularly
- Getting better quality sleep
…..to name but a few.
It will also help if it involves doing something positive (training 4 times per week) rather than giving up something negative ( eating sweets/drinking alcohol).
Decide on just 1 of these areas to improve and give it 100% commitment. When you start to feel and look better – and the new behaviour becomes second-nature – it will give you the confidence and motivation to introduce a new habit.
This method is less spectacular than the All-Or-Nothing Approach, but if you can be patient enough to try it, you’ll find that in the long term you will achieve far better results. And you’ll still be training, eating well or using that new gym membership in February, March and April!