We all know New Year’s resolutions have a bad rep, with less than half of us sticking to our promises by the time June hits. Despite our good intentions, the main problem is we’ve usually made grandiose commitments that are too vague, ill-informed or difficult to stick to beyond the first week of January (sound familiar?). But this isn’t a reason to give up on yourself: the following resolutions are so simple, you’ll be set to slay your health goals in 2018.
Old resolution: “I want to stop [insert bad habit here]”
Why it doesn’t work: If you’ve been trying to kick a certain habit for years, but haven’t, it’s likely because you’re trying without any awareness.
New resolution: “I’ll practise 10 minutes of mindfulness daily”
“In order to break a habit, you have to first be aware that it is happening. Mindfulness allows us to be present with what is happening in any given moment, so we can choose our actions and break our habitual patterns,” psychologist Mary Hoang from The Indigo Project says. “Create a habit of sitting quietly for five minutes in the morning and five minutes before you go to bed. Try ‘Mindfulness of breath’, a simple technique that involves focusing your attention on the sensation of the breath as it enters and exits the nostrils, or use apps such as Headspace or Smiling Mind if you need some guidance.”
Old resolution: “I’m going to drink veg juices every day to lose weight”
Why it doesn’t work: Juices are filled with extra kJs, contain little fibre and don’t keep you satisfied, meaning you’re likely to eat more to compensate (and hence, put on weight).
New resolution: “I’m going to eat fruit and veg whole”
“While it’s fun for hardcore health-foodies to down greens via a straw, most of the palatable juices available simply contain too much fruit in one go. This can be hard on the digestive system to process and can result in abdominal pain and bloating,” dietitian and nutritionist Larina Robinson says. “Stick to eating your fruit and vegetables whole instead, so you get all their filling fibre, and less of the sugar rush.”
Old resolution: “I’m going to sleep more and stress less”
Why it doesn’t work: When life gets busy, it’s easy to prioritise work and going out over sleep, both of which end up increasing your stress levels.
Replace it with: “I’m setting a daily reminder to be grateful”
“Research shows that having a gratitude practice can increase sleep quality by 25 per cent, plus lower stress-related illnesses by 10 per cent and increase positive emotions and productivity,” Mary says. “The act of practising gratitude also releases dopamine and serotonin into the brain, which has the same effect as taking an antidepressant.”
Old resolution: “I’m going to exercise like an animal to get better results”
Why it doesn’t work: After those first few intense sessions at the gym, you’re in so much pain you couldn’t be bothered going back (Netflix and the couch are less torturous).
New resolution: “I’m going to treat my workouts as moving meditation”
“When you exercise, are you really focusing on what your body is doing or are you miles away thinking about trivial things?” asks Darren Cox, functional wellness practitioner at Total Reformation. “If there’s one time in your life when you should be 100 per cent focused on your body, it’s when you’re exercising (especially if you’re doing weights or high-intensity interval training). When you break the habit of using exercise as a ‘disconnect’ from reality, your results will come sooner and you’ll become more competent in moving well and pain-free.”
Old resolution: “I’m going to be happier”
Why it doesn’t work: This statement is so vague that you’re setting yourself up for failure. What does it mean to be happier anyway?
New resolution: “I’m going to schedule weekly catch-ups with loved ones”
Mary says, “If you want to be happier and healthier in the coming year, invest in close, positive relationships. Research shows having someone to lean on helps with emotional, and even physical, pain. Set aside time every week to foster your most important relationships, and allow space to debrief emotionally. What’s important is not the number of friends you have, but the quality of your close relationships.”
Old resolution: “I’m going to start following [insert new healthy diet trend here]”
Why it doesn’t work: Most new diet trends are usually complicated and so strict (or bland), you’ll be bored after a few days. If you want to eat healthily, it’s actually really simple.
New resolution: “I’m going to fill half my lunch and dinner plates with colourful vegetables”
“Think zucchini, tomato, carrot, pumpkin, broccoli, cauliflower. The more colour you add, the more variety you’re enjoying, and according to research, you’ll likely live longer,” Larina says. “Plus, they contain water and fibre for a happy digestive system, and thanks to their different colours, are loaded with a variety of antioxidants to fight premature ageing and free radical damage.”