If you think your NewYear’s resolutions are doomed to failure, fear not! Karen Fittall shows us how trying things from a different angle can help to make them stick. It is not hard to revamp your life.
The most popular New Year’s resolutions are always health-related ones. But 44 per cent of us break them in the first six months, so why not try something different this year? You’ll still be working towards the same result, just from a different angle, one that’ll make success more likely. Here’s how to take a fresh approach to five common health-based New Year’s resolutions.
Resolutions for Revamp Your Life
To Lose Weight
Commit to: taking a probiotic every day. You’ll lose twice as much weight over a six-month period. Researchers say it’s thanks to the way probiotics reduce levels of an appetite-related hormone, as well as concentrations of a strain of intestinal bacteria that’s been linked to obesity. It’s thought the probiotics work by altering the permeability of the intestinal wall so that pro-inflammatory molecules, which have been linked to obesity, are prevented from entering the bloodstream.
MAKE THE MOST OF IT: by picking a supplement that contains the Lactobacillus rhamnosus strain, which is the one linked to weight loss, as well as at least one other variety of probiotic. Other research shows multi-strain probiotics are most effective at boosting weight loss.
To Exercise More
Commit to: asking yourself how much exercise you plan on doing that week. That increases how much time you’ll actually spend being physically active by as much as 138 per cent. Because exercise is a good for- you habit, asking the question makes you think about how much you should ideally be doing, compared to what you usually do. And that motivates you to move more.
MAKE THE MOST OF IT: by linking exercise to a ‘cue’, like hearing your alarm clock go off in the morning to make exercise a habit. As soon as you hear the cue, exercise seems like the obvious choice – as long as it’s an exercise you get a kick out of.
To Drink Less
Commit to: participating in one or two‘dry’months, this year. One in two people who quit alcohol for four weeks at a time say they drink less in the months that follow – and for more than a third of them, it’s a change that lasts at least a year. Plus, after a month off alcohol, your insulin resistance, which is a measurement of diabetes risk, will be 28 per cent lower, and your liver stiffness, which is one indication of liver damage, will have improved by 12.5 per cent.
MAKE THE MOST OF IT: by officially signing on to months like FebFast (febfast.org.au) and asking your friends and family for their support. Not only are people who register for a cause more likely to stick with it than people who go it alone, telling others what you’re doing increases your chances of success by 10 per cent.
To Sleep Better
Commit to: eating at least 25g of fibre every day. You’ll spend more time in the stage of deep, restorative slow-wave sleep if you do. One explanation is that certain nutrients have a direct effect on the body’s circadian rhythm – low-fibre diets may delay the drop in core body temperature and reduce night-time melatonin secretion, both of which are vital for good sleep. Good sources of fibre include wholemeal pasta (8g of fibre in 1 cup), kidney beans (6.5g of fibre in 100g), and fresh corn (6g of fibre in 1 medium cob).
MAKE THE MOST OF IT: by avoiding saturated fat aswell, particularly at dinnertime. The same researchers say meals rich in saturated fat increase the time it takes to fall asleep by 70 per cent.
To Eat Healthier
Commit to: cooking as many meals from scratch, at home, as possible. It’s the key ingredient to a healthier diet – people who cook at home more often than not consume fewer kilojoules, and eat fewer carbohydrates and less sugar and fat than people who eat out more often. Plus, when‘home cookers’do eat out, they tend to make healthier choices.
MAKE THE MOST OF IT: by covering half of your plate with vegetables, at lunch and dinner. Do that and you’re much more likely to hit the recommended ‘eat five serves of vegetables’ a day, something only one in 20 Australians currently do.
Try one of these
They’ll still help your health, but these New Year’s resolutions are a little more left field.
RESOLVE TO: Take more photos. You’ll genuinely enjoy an activity or experience more, when you take a photograph to remember it by. The more you enjoy things the happier you’ll be – and research proves that happier people tend to live longer and experience better health.
RESOLVE TO: Quit binge watching TV.While it’s easier than ever to enjoy consecutive episodes of your favourite show, spending more than five hours a day in front of the television increases your risk of dying in the next 20 years by two-and-a-half times. It’s because too much time seated in front of the TV increases the risk of pulmonary embolism, a blood clot in the lung, which can be fatal.
RESOLVE TO: Go for a 15-minute walk after you’ve eaten. That puts a cap on how high your blood sugar levels spike post meal. And that matters: post-meal high blood sugar is a key factor in the development of insulin resistance, which increases the risk of type 2 diabetes.
RESOLVE TO: Think positively about your next birthday. Do that year after year and you’ll extend your lifespan by more than seven years. That’s a bigger impact on longevity than not smoking and getting your blood pressure under control. Being excited about growing older is one way to feel more upbeat about ageing, a thinking style that improves health, say researchers.
RESOLVE TO: Write your feelings down. Do it whenever you feel stressed or emotional – research proves it can reduce your risk of illness, high blood pressure and hospital stays. It can even speed up the healing time for skin wounds. Putting feelings into words triggers physical reactions in the brain, which makes the impact of negative emotions on your health and wellbeing less intense.
MAKE IT STICK
New Year’s resolutions aren’t doomed to fail – linking a behaviour change to a meaningful time of year really can make you more likely to keep doing it. Here’s how to increase your odds of success even further.
STICK TO ONE OR TWO. Research proves that the brain can’t handle working on too many resolutions or changes at the same time, so the fewer, the better. Choose a couple that matter most to you, this year.
BE SPECIFIC. It’s the reason why we’ve suggested a different approach to the five most common New Year’s health resolutions – research proves that a resolution of ‘cooking as many meals as possible from scratch’ has more chance of sticking than ‘eating healthier’. It’s the same end goal, but a more detailed method.
HANG IN THERE FOR 42 DAYS. If you do something at least four times a week, after six weeks it’s much more likely to stick as a long-term habit, say researchers.