There are several reasons why most people give up on their New Year’s resolutions by 12 January. Not even two weeks in, and our motivation for making healthier lifestyle changes has already begun to falter.
One of the main reasons is we tend to make extremely lofty promises.
“Most of us create resolutions that are too ‘big’ and therefore we can’t meet them,” says success coach, Amy Applebaum. So if your aim is to become healthier as well as happier next year, then try these manageable lifestyle changes.
The experts reveal their secrets and how, by making a few tiny lifestyle changes, you can still get big results.
Lifestyle changes to kickstart the New Year
1. Master meditation
Forget those expensive anti-ageing creams in 2020; your secret to a youthful glow is all in your mind. A study in the International Journal of Neuroscience has shown that people who have practised meditation for five years or more are physiologically 12 years younger than their actual age. So close your eyes and let yourself breathe.
2. Move more
We all sit way too much during the day and it’s damaging our health. According to a study by Queen’s University Belfast, it’s linked to 70,000 yearly UK deaths. Anything we can do to move more in 2020 will do us good.
“Standing for 30 minutes can burn 64 calories, lower blood sugar levels and your risk of heart disease, as well as reduce back pain and improve energy,” says Dr Petra Simic, clinical director at Bupa Health Clinics.
3. Easy exercise
Personal trainer Amy Tarr recommends kick-starting your lifestyle changes with a fitness regime with low-impact cardio exercises, such as walking or swimming. “Squats, lunges and tricep dips are also a great introduction to resistance training,” she says. Try Joe Wicks’ free Absolute Begin-ner HIIT Workout from YouTube to start.
4. Count colours not calories
Well, this sounds like a lot more fun and a lot less faff. The idea? Having a wide variety of colours on your plate means you’re consuming lots of vitamins, minerals and polyphenols.
“I’m a creature of habit,’ says nutritionist Lily Soutter. “If I’m not mindful of what I eat, I can easily consume the same things for days on end. If my plate is a rainbow of colour, however, I know I’m eating optimally for my health.”
5. Try a sensual massage
You may have banished this particular extra to the sex sidelines around the time Take That were initially hitting the charts, but you could be missing out.
“Use lube for a sensual massage,” suggests sex and relationship expert Annabelle Knight. ”It’s fantastic foreplay – it doesn’t require a lot of energy and it’s great for creating an intimate bond between you and your partner.”
6. Have a set sleep routine
“Set your alarm for the same time each morning, even after a late night,” says Dr Simic.
Why? “Having a lie-in resets your sleep cycle and decreases your need to sleep. Consistency will improve sleep quality, reduce sleep problems and ensure you start the year off with the right amount,” she explains.
7. Eat earlier
A huge 61 per cent of us Brits suffer from heartburn. To stay indigestion free, nutritionist Lily Soutter recommends avoiding eating less than three hours before going to bed. “Lying down too soon after a meal tilts the stomach so acid is able to spill into your oesophagus,” she says. “This is a common cause of heartburn.”
8. Do something NEAT
Structured exercise– hitting the gym or going for a run – are great lifestyle changes. “But often it isn’t enough to make a real change to your health and fitness,” says Marvin Burton, head of fitness at Anytime Fitness UK.
Non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) – everything we do that’s not sleeping, eating or sports-like exercise – can help top up our activity levels and beat the number of calories we burn at the gym.
Just by moving around and being on our feet, we could zap an extra 2,000 calories a day. Just think, we only burn 300-400 calories after a punishing hour on the exercise bike.
✱ Take the stairs
✱ Do your own chores, such as mowing the lawn or changing the bedclothes
✱ Go grocery shopping instead of ordering online