So it’s that time of year again. We’ve completely overindulged over the festive period and feeling a little jaded we start the New Year full of good intentions. As 2017 beckons, our thoughts turn to a brand new, blank canvas that is the NEW YEAR – the chance to be the “best” versions of ourselves once again…. Millions of us will make New Year's Resolutions but apparently 80% of us fail to stick to them. We’ve all experienced the frustrations of starting a new training program and sticking with it perfectly for a few days or weeks, only to fall off the wagon for one reason or another.
If you want to maximize your chances of actually sticking to your resolutions this year then read on for Mama on the Move’s 5 top tips for a healthier 2017.
- Focus on a habit goal
The most common pitfall that people tend to fall into is to create a resolution that is focused on an outcome, such as ‘lose weight’ or ‘run 10K’. The problem with this is that we have little control over achieving these outcomes. Whilst a few people will manage to lose weight, for many of us this simple sounding statement is far more challenging to achieve. When we fail to see progress we become dispirited and give up altogether.
A habit is something that you do often and regularly, sometimes without knowing that you are doing it. Around 40% of the actions that we perform each day are a result of habit. Whilst you cannot control outcomes you can totally control the time and effort you put into acquiring new, healthier habits. All outcome goals are actually the result of creating and sticking to a new habit for a sustained period of time. Just focus on what you can do each day and before you know it you will start seeing results. In our programmes we have created 10 nutrition commandments that we encourage you to adopt as healthy eating habits.
- Make small changes that are achievable
Another of the main mistakes that people make is to make large sweeping statements as their resolutions. Yes, I do understand that it seems a lot more impressive to pledge to ‘Run a marathon’ or ‘Drop a dress size’ but most people fail at new habits because they take on too much too fast. This is just not sustainable, particularly if you are a new mum trying to juggle everyone’s demands, or an expectant mum struggling with morning sickness.
Aim to start with a small positive habit that will take you five to ten minutes each day. You’ll get a lot more mileage out of setting up a small habit, and winning at it repeatedly. According to a 2012 study of more that 650 000 adults, those who walked for 10 minutes every day, even if they got no other exercise and even if they were overweight, lived on average 2 years longer than those who couldn’t find 10 minutes to exercise. We’ve designed our Mama on the Move workouts so that they are less than 15 minutes long, which is totally achievable. You may even find that once you build one workout habit, it’s even easier to achieve the next one.
- Expect setbacks
There seems to be an increasing fear of failure in our culture. Particularly as mums we put huge amounts of pressure on ourselves to live up to unrealistic expectations. Quite often when we fall off the wagon or break our resolutions we feel like we have ‘failed’ and at this point it is tempting to give up completely.
However, failure is not only normal, it’s completely healthy. When you make a mistake or fall short of a goal, you haven’t failed; you’ve learned. Try to adopt a “growth mindset,” which thrives on challenge and sees failure as an opportunity to acknowledge and embrace your imperfections so that you can become better at overcoming them in the future.
- Use external triggers to re-enforce your new habit
One of the best ways to get a new habit to stick is to link your new healthy habit to a trigger and perform it consistently. If you get it done before, during, or after something you’re already doing, and you’re a lot more likely to actually do it.
For example, you go to work every day. You could put your workout in before work. Or after work. But work is the trigger that you connect your workout to.
Or maybe you tie it to dinner. I’m going to workout before dinner.
You can workout after you take the dog for a walk. During your lunch break. Right after you wake up. You can put your workout whenever works for you. But as a new habit, you want to plan it either:
- Before something
- During something
- After something
That something that you already do is the trigger for your new habit to start.
- Get motivated
Motivation is crucial in helping you to stay on track with your resolutions. It takes on average about 30 days to master a new habit, which occurs in three phases:
PHASE 1(1-10 days): After the initial excitement around the start of a new habit the motivation wears off and tedium sets in.
PHASE 2 (11-20 days): The new habit starts to become easier but daily discipline and commitment are still needed.
PHASE 3 (21-30 days): Habits start to become routine. The positive results and advantages of the new habit start to be felt.
If you want to make it through the 30 days its important to build in strategies that will help you stay motivated. Obviously we are all different in terms of what makes us tick but here a range of suggestions to keep you on track.
- Team up with a habit partner
- Write down your successes at the end of each day (and if you had a hiccup, what you’re going to do to make it less likely in the future!)
- Sign up for a challenge or event
- Give yourself small rewards each day you achieve your habits
- Make yourself accountable by telling people about your new habit
- Keep a record of any positive changes you have noticed
- Enlist the help of friends and family to support you
- Join an online community like our Mama on the Move Facebook pregnancy or postnatal groups
- Make it easy to stick to your habit, for example by clearing the kitchen of temptation
So, hopefully armed with these tips you’re all set to make some awesome new habits next year. However, particularly for new mums and mums to be my last piece of advice would be to be kind to yourself. There are a lot of different ways that life's stresses can increase for periods of time. You may need to dial your habits back to stay in the game. Just know that it’s okay to do more some times, and less other times. These things go in cycles; that’s normal and ok.
Get in touch with us on our Facebook page to let us know your resolutions for 2017!