Grit Doctor: Forget resolutions, follow these 10 tips

The key to being healthy is to make small changes to your habits you can live with

Resolution 10: I am . . . binning new year’s resolutions

Resolution 10: I am . . . binning new year’s resolutions


Q Dear Grit Doctor. The first week of January is almost over and I’m feeling really pleased with myself for having religiously followed a juice-only detox since New Year’s Day, spring-cleaned the whole house and joined the gym. I’ve promised myself to get healthy. It’s kind of exhausting though – probably the detox – but I also feel amazing. I hope you are impressed, I just wanted to let you know how gritty I was being with myself.

Grit fiend anon

A I don’t mean to rain on your parade, but needs must. New year’s resolutions, especially of the kind listing fundamental changes to routine and character such as yours, would floor the Grit Doctor – even in her grittiest mood – and, I’m afraid, are going to floor you too.

You need look no further than your own body of evidence, gleaned over how ever many years of making new year’s resolutions to illustrate my point perfectly. Have any of those resolutions succeeded in the long term?

How many times have you tried to give up smoking on New Year’s Day? How many detoxes have you undergone in January only to find yourself a bit heavier at the year’s end?

How many thinly veiled commitments to get fit begin in the new year, only to morph into a large sofa dent by spring? Isn’t this list highly reminiscent of many others that have gone before it?

If the aim of your detox is to shed the excess weight gained over the Christmas holidays, I’m afraid you are wasting your time. Yes, it might work after seven days in superficial terms because you will lose a lot of weight in water, but it will all come back on again when you return to eating normally. With bells on.

Why? Because your body will cling to food once it is reintroduced, believing itself to be starving and that it is essential to store as much fat as it can whenever it gets hold of any. This is a kind of dieting madness.

The best way to avoid ever having to go on intensive diets is, of course, to eat normally all year round. This requires making good choices regularly and exercising a degree of self-control throughout the year.

Less rubbish, more movement. All. Year. Round. Scrap the list and take just one item and, using the 10 tips below, transform it into a realisable goal that you can continue to develop all year.

Take on another item from your list as and when the first item (let’s say giving up smoking) has genuinely become a good habit, as opposed to a daily challenge.

Those that require breaking down, such as ‘get healthy’, see below.

Ten tips that might actually suceed

1 Within the enormously vague concept to “get healthy”, focus on one specific thing within this goal that is measurable. For example: having three meat-free days each week. Add a specific new goal (such as no more eating McDonald’s) when the previous goal has become an ingrained habit.

2 If you want to give up alcohol or cut down, I recommend holding off until spring. January and February are quite bleak enough already.

3Make yourself accountable to someone. Declare your goal and get that someone to be your back-up Grit Doctor – someone who will always be on your case (within reason and with kindness).

4 Celebrate reaching milestones along the way and make sure you acknowledge how far you have come.

5 Smarten up your goals to dress them for success. Smart goals are: specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-related. They are the answer. So, for example, you could make a goal that “By March, I will have written 5,000 words of my debut novel.”

6 Don’t beat yourself up when you fail however. To fail is to be human. Make friends with it and, when it happens, don’t dwell in the failure and use it as an excuse to give up. Move on. Quickly.

7 Have fun. As much as you can. That’s my goal for this year: it may be vague, but it will be an enormous pleasure to break down.

8 Run your way to success. Whatever goal you have, regular running will help you to get there. Why? Because it teaches you self-discipline.

9 Frame your goal in the present tense, to invigorate things. By adopting the position “I am”, you will start living as if you are. Right away.

So, for example, “I am a non smoker” is an infinitely more powerful statement than “I am trying to give up smoking.”

The Grit Doctor says . . .

10 I am . . . binning new year’s resolutions Ruth Field is author of Run Fat B!tch Run, Get Your Sh!t Together and Cut the Crap.

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