Health: How to make your resolutions count all year

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Need help to improve your life for the better? Abi Jackson has some top tips.

If you want to change something about yourself or your life, the first thing you need to do is identify what you really want to change.

They key is in the word ‘really’.

“Come January, you hear lots of people saying, ‘I want to lose weight’. But how many of them actually do it? Not many, because they don’t understand why they really want to do it,” says Tim Drummond, co-author of The 30/30 Body Blueprint.

As a personal coach and mentor specialising in health, Drummond is used to hearing people say they ‘should’ do things but, unless you understand why you want to change, you probably won’t succeed.

For instance, his brother’s wife had tried for 10 years to quit smoking.

“Then she got pregnant and stopped straight away,” says Drummond. “She suddenly understood why it was so important to her, and it was so important to her that she was prepared to do it no matter how tough and horrible it was in the meantime.”

Damian Hughes, author of How To Change Absolutely Anything, agrees.

“People often talk about motivation that comes from within and motivation that comes from the outside, but I believe there are three types of motivation,” he says.

“You either act through desperation; that you ‘have’ to do something. People often say, ‘I have to lose weight’. Or people act through rationalisation, so they go, ‘Oh, I should lose weight, really’, or they act from a place of inspiration, which is where they go, ‘I really want to lose weight’.

“All three of them are applicable in different circumstances, but the most sustainable one is where you act from inspiration, where you really want to do something.”

Making a change begins with making an intelligent choice, notes Hughes.

“Don’t resolve to lose weight just because it’s the new year – ask yourself what it is that you genuinely want to change or improve, whether it’s health or wellbeing or a hobby or whatever.”

Just saying you really want to do something won’t cut it either, you have to know what you want to achieve.

“A lot of my clients say they want to lose weight because they want to walk down the beach feeling proud of themselves and confident, or to be able to go shopping and know they can pick something off the rack and it will fit them,” says Drummond. “These may sound like simple things, but actually the emotion attached to them is very revealing.”

But making a change - and sticking to it - is still a daunting process. Breaking things down into small steps is the key, such as focusing on what can be done in the first 30 days.

“If you can continue a new behaviour pattern for that long, then chances are you’ll be able to stick with it. Breaking habits is hard - our brains don’t like it. The only way to change those patterns in your brain, is by repeating something over and over until it feels normal,” he said.

“Long-term goals can overwhelm us, it’s too much. But looking at what you’re going to change in the next 30 days is less daunting, and improves your chances of making a change for life.”

A hippo in Liwonde National Park. PA Photo/Sarah Marshall.

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