Healthy Habits

New years Resolutions do they work?

So some do it every year, others just do not believe in it. But no matter who you are or what you prefer to call it – We are all somehow get faced with the new year and new possibilities topic floating around in our heads.

We all want to move froward in life. We set goals, make plans and try to improve ourselves. for many this is called New Years Resolutions. There are a tremendous amount of articles on why they work, why they don’t work, How to make them work and how to stay motivated.

There are tips like:

  • Make sure the goal is measurable, time based and realistic.
  • Choose one resolution – quality over quantity 
  • Go slow – not too big to fast
  • Decide on your resolutions early – not on new years day – plan ahead
  • Tell someone – Have someone other than yourself hold you responcsible
  • Get into a routine and a set structure
  • Prioritize what you want
  • Be in the moment – Its about how you get there, not about the end result.
  • Be realistic on how hard its going to be
  • Don’t be afraid to fail – The master has failed more times than the Beginner can even count.

And although I do agree with many of these tips, they don’t always help you achieve your goals, or new years resolutions. So how then?

What is the secret to this annually conundrum that we face?

According to psychologytoday.com  – ” Making resolutions work involves changing behaviors—and in order to change a behavior, you have to change your thinking (or “rewire” your brain). Brain scientists such as Antonio Damasio, Joseph LeDoux, and psychotherapist Stephen Hayes have discovered, through the use of MRIs, that habitual behavior is created by thinking patterns that create neural pathways and memories, which become the default basis for your behavior when you’re faced with a choice or decision. Trying to change that default thinking by “not trying to do it,” in effect just strengthens it. Change requires creating new neural pathways from new thinking. “

I guess here comes in the truth of literary changin your way of thinking. that by persistence and continuous repetition of what you want to achieve you will in fact change the way of thinking. this will in turn re prioritize your life and restructure you priorities.

Maybe the better way to setting new years resolutions is to just decide on changing your mindset first, and the rest will follow. Then after your mindset has changed, and your priorities followed then you will change your life accordingly?

For instance, I wanted Six pack and I wanted to be more healthy a year ago. I also wanted to take better care of myself in the beauty department and I also wanted to run more. a Year has now passed and I don’t have my six pack, but I am healthier and have lost 4kg normally and naturally no pills no silly diets and I run at least 3-4 times a week.

My husband is also healthier because I decided to change the way I cook and what we have in the house to eat. thinking back now me getting a six pack was a little ambitious for a one year goal – But I had so many people tell me it was not possible, that knowing me as a person with my love for all things to be consumed, I wouldn’t be able to do it. And in the beginning that fueled me. But in turn that is getting a six pack for the wrong reasons.

I don’t want to “GO” on a “diet” I seriously do not believe in that for myself and whoever I cook for. I don’t want to “CUT-OUT” things I love. All in good moderation and with the correct amount of exercise you should still be able to live the way you want and have the body you want.

Saying that – I am sitting here on my bed, stuffed like a Thanks Giving turkey after all this indulging this holiday… and I have now picked up 3kg again, but that is from eating out of normal patterns and drinking more than usual. But that’s OK, you cannot live on restrictions. I Believe that my resolutions or goals for next year will be easier, and better – because my mindset changed first – because I created new pathways for thinking.

Another downfall for resolutions are habits. Habits are hard to break. the best way to change a bad habit is to simply replace it with a new one.

Acording to Psychology today to create a new habit you have to follow these 3 steps (based on B.J. Fogg and Charles Duhigg)

  1. You MUST pick a small action. “Get more exercise” is not small. “Eat healthier” is not small. This is a big reason why New Year’s resolutions don’t work. If it’s a habit and you want a new one it MUST be something really small. For example, instead of “Get more exercise” choose “Walk 1/3 more than I usually do” or “Take the stairs each morning to get to my office, not the elevator”, or “Have a smoothie every morning with kale in it”. These are relatively small actions.
  2. You MUST attach the new action to a previous habit. Figure out a habit you already have that is well established, for example, if you already go for a brisk walk 3 times a week, then adding on 10 more minutes to the existing walk connects the new habit to an existing one. The existing habit “Go for walk” now becomes the “cue” for the new habit: “Walk 10 more minutes.” Your new “stimulus-response” is Go For Walk (Stimulus) followed by “Add 10 minutes.” Your existing habit of “walk through door at office” can now become the “cue” or stimulus for the new habit of “walk up a flight of stairs.” Your existing habit of “Walk into the kitchen in the morning” can now be the stimulus for the new habit of “Make a kale smoothie.”
  3. You MUST make the new action EASY to do for at least the first week. Because you are trying to establish a conditioned response, you need to practice the new habit from the existing stimulus from 3 to 7 times before it will “stick” on its own. To help you through this 3 to 7 times phase make it as EASY as possible. Write a note and stick it in your walking shoe that says “Total time today for walk is 30 minutes”. Write a note and put it where you put your keys that says: “Today use the stairs.” Put the kale in the blender and have all your smoothie ingredients ready to go in one spot in the refrigerator.

In changing our eating habits I tried to ensure that food and snacks are prepped. Always having carrots and cucumbers cut into snack size ready to eat – now getting carrots out the fridge is just as easy as opening a bag of Doritos. I changed very small things like this, and it became such a normal habit. I now prefer to spend money on a bag of carrots rather than a slab of chocolate – or Doritos.

So in our house The existing habit “I’m Hungry lets have a bag of Doritos” now becomes the “cue” for the new habit: “lets rather have carrots.” Our new “stimulus-response” is Have a snack (Stimulus) followed by “Lets have carrots and cucumbers.”

My Husband might not notice but he is just as happy with a bowl of carrots than a bowl of chips and so am I – Now its like its normal. Because we changed this one small thing it became easier to change other things, as my mindset changed I now think differently about everything I buy and or prepare.

So the new existing habit “lets rather have carrots.” now becomes the “cue” for the next new habit: “I don’t want to eat junk.” Our new “stimulus-response” is Carrots/Healthier option (Stimulus) followed by “I don’t want to eat junk.”

But it was hard – it still is hard, everyday you make the choice – everyday you are one decision away from changing your life.

So maybe this year your new years resolution should be to make a small change that will lead to big differences in the long term of your life. Not unrealistic short term goals that you cant reach because your mind is not there yet.

Get your head around new habits first -around the changes that you want to make and how hard it really is to achieve. It is a difficult process enough without you overwhelming yourself with ambitious goals! So wrap your head around it first, and take a year to do it, one day you will wake up and you wont be able to remember how you even did it differently before.

I think next year December I’ll be ready for my Six pack, and you?

HAPPY NEW YEAR! Its sooo Exciting! 

Remember its always your year, you determine how it goes! Let try and be more positive and think about all the wonderful possibilities that are waiting for us around the corner.

XOXOX – Jani

3 Comments

  • Divine

    Great great read. I’m a fitness fanatic and total foodie, I totally share your notions about dieting, as I love working and and staying healthy but hate feeling restricted, the word diet just makes me cringe. It’s about adobpting healthy eating habits ey

    • Jani du Toit

      Glad you liked the post – I love food, ad eating, its a wonderful part of life – I hate it when people say to me their going on a diet – I literally just shut down and stop listening. Thank you for the interaction, hope to see you here again!

  • Astrid

    Thank you for an excellent article. I agree with you wholeheartedly. I have found that adding healthy habits goes a long way to achieving my goals. I too don’t diet but change up my eating style and quantity. I appreciate your quotes too. Thanks for such a positive doable article.

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