Every year around this time, millions of people promise to change their ways, “next year will be better”. Next year I will eat less, drink less, quit smoking and start exercising. Every year we undertake to stop doing negative or harmful things to ourselves only to find that next year has come and gone and we have not changed at all. Sound familiar?

I am no stranger to New Year’s resolutions myself, and my experience (like so many others) has been that they rarely survive the month of January. What if, next year, instead of promising to stop doing something, we take a different approach? Let’s make a list of things to start doing.

It’s that age old problem, the moment someone tells you to stop doing something, it’s all you can think of. Isn’t starting easier than stopping? Is it easier to start eating a chocolate, or easier to stop? You decide.

Even if we fail, the resolution is to try. Believe it or not, being hard on myself is probably first on my list to ditch. It’s one of the major reasons why people don’t succeed, they set impossible expectations for themselves, which in turn just sets them up to fail.

So next year, I will try a new approach. Here is a list of my new year’s resolutions, of things that I will start doing:

  • To give myself a break and stress less.

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  • Being hard on yourself makes you more stressed. For most of us, stress is a fact of life. Unfortunately, research reveals that it’s also a source of fat. “Even if you usually eat well and exercise, chronic high stress can prevent you from losing weight —or even add kilograms,” says Pamela Peeke, MD, author of Body for Life for Women. So why not accept the fact that you are in fact human and prone to make mistakes. Take a few deep breaths and try again tomorrow. There is a principle that we should learn to settle for 80%. Most people think they need 100%, which is impossible for the average person. So they keep going and burn themselves out to get to 100% while they only require 80%. So sit back and think, what do you really need?
  • Drink more water.

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Not only is it essential to stay alive, it keeps your digestive system running and your energy levels high. It’s the easiest way to lose those few Christmas kilos and helps to keep your skin clean and clear. There are many benefits to drinking water, read more here. Women’s Health did a featured article to teach you tricks to drink more water – read it when you have a moment.

  • To cut out sugar and lose my ‘Sugar Belly’.

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Forget the beer belly, I need to lose my sugar belly. Recent studies have shown that regular intake of sugar causes weight gain around your abdomen. I don’t know about you but this seems like a great reason to give up sugar!

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  • Skipping a meal sounds like a great way to lose weight, except that it really isn’t. It messes with your blood sugar and in extreme cases can cause weight gain because your body tries to store more energy.
  • To plan.
    Planning is key when following a healthy lifestyle. Next year, my resolution is to plan ahead to avoid going of track. Like they say, if you fail to plan – you plan to fail.

Do yourself a favour and put your new year’s resolutions on paper – it makes it more official. Place this paper somewhere where you can see it often and remind yourself that this is your goal. What is on your list of resolutions? I would love to hear what you struggle with – perhaps we can find a solution together!

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