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2020: make your goals bite-sized!

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Well here we are, the other side of Christmas, emerging from our canapé coma. We've probably set some New Year's Resolutions and are teetering on the edge of success or failure.

How's it looking for you so far? Which way is it going to go?! I don't mean to pile the pressure on, but this is a whole new decade, not just a New Year.

The stakes are high! Wouldn't it be amazing to achieve something awesome? And by awesome, I mean get the kids to school on time, or fold the laundry as soon as it comes out of the dryer. It's the little things!

The problem is, we often set our goals too high. Instead of saying “I'm going to eat berries every day with breakfast”, we say “I'm going to eat healthy from now on, for ever ... and run a marathon!”

While the big goals are good (and kudos to you if you achieve them), I see more frequent, sustainable success when the goals are more modest.

The key is to find a simple thing, or a couple, that you can do every day (or routinely through the week) to work towards a bigger picture of health and happiness.

Big change doesn't occur overnight; it comes from a series of small steps that you took with focus and determination.

If you think about going to the gym, you don't get the results you're looking for after one session. You get them after a few weeks of consistent effort.

You won't be able to pinpoint the exact moment when the change occurred, but gradually you'll notice that your clothes feel better, you've more energy during the day … and that you aren't out of breath after climbing the stairs.

Make your goals bite-sized (for example, a 30-minute class or workout three times a week), be consistent and the change will come. Aside from this, here's some more tips to help make change sustainable.

Let's make it actually happen this year! Go through this checklist and then make yourself a plan.

Go bite-sized

So, you want to run a marathon, but you've never really run before? Start with 5K training.

You can download any good Couch to 5K app which will give you manageable interval-based training to help you reach your goal in nine weeks.

If you need a group for expertise and camaraderie, then join me for Beat the Couch (Season 15) which starts February 20.

And (or!) if you need to eat a better diet, start with changing one habit for 21 days (a good breakfast, six glasses of water, green vegetables every day) and focus on that one thing. After 21 days (long enough to make a habit stick), add a new one!

Get to know your ‘why'

I will always be grateful to Success Coach, Julia Pitt, for clueing me in to this one. You might have a goal (run a 5K, lose 10lb), but why do you want it?

Spend some time thinking about what it is that you want and why you want it. If you have a running goal, what is it you're trying to prove?Why do you want or need your body to be that strong? What will you gain alongside this new-found fitness? (confidence, determination, disease prevention?)

If you have a weight loss goal, think about why a healthier weight is important to you?

Is your weight putting you at risk of scary disease? Is it stopping you doing things you want?

Is your body confidence affecting your relationships at home (partner/kids) and your mood at work?

Understanding your “why” is absolutely key to harnessing motivation and determination.

Choose happy

Humans aren't very good at subjecting themselves to misery.

If you think about it, almost everything we do is based on the pursuit of happiness.

We want to be happy in our relationships, jobs, friendships — even our clothes.

If you pick a goal that forces you to do something you don't like, then this resolution just will not last.

Don't force yourself to eat salad if you hate it!

Don't make yourself go to the gym if you prefer to be outdoors.

If nothing about exercise makes you happy, then do it with people who do!

My first step into fitness came when I signed up to classes and run-training with friends.

I didn't always feel like exercising, but I did always want to see my friends.

Don't just start new habits, replace the bad ones

Let's say you've decided to make sure you're drinking enough water. Good on you!

But make sure you're replacing something not- o good for you, like excess caffeine or any sugary drink.

We often get the best results when we do something good at the same time as replacing something bad.

It's a double whammy and a win-win. Drink more water, ditch the soda.

Eat more green vegetables, instead of starchy vegetables (carrots/corn.)

Go out for a run, instead of watching never-ending Netflix.

Replace your afternoon sugar fix with a walk around the block and some almonds and an apple.

Plan to succeed, plan to fail

This is likely not your first time at the rodeo!

Where you have succeeded before, what helped you be successful? (scheduling exercise in your diary?)

Where you have failed before, what was your undoing? (stress-eating?)

Look at old patterns and then make sure you learn from them. Have a plan for when you would ordinarily fail.

Establish accountability

Having other people hold you to your goals can be annoying, but can also be the making of you.

You might want to share your goals with your family and friends so they can be supportive when you're finding things hard and help you on your way.

They might even join you, and exercise and healthy eating are usually way more fun when you have buddies making the same changes alongside you.

Create a supportive environment

This is probably most important of all.

A supportive environment is absolutely essential for success.

For example, you're unlikely to resist the sugar for long if there's ice cream in your freezer and candy in the kids cupboard.

If you're the type to be elbow deep in a bag of chocolate chips at 11pm (because that's all you could find), then you need to clear out the kitchen.

There's no need for anyone else to be miserable because of it, you're not telling them they can't have these things!

If you have a partner that's not on board with your healthy new resolutions, at least ask them to commit to not sabotaging your efforts.

It's not fair of them to eat ice-cream on the sofa next to you and then criticise you for being overweight after all! (I see it happen all the time!!)

The advice given in this article is not intended to replace medical advice, but to complement it. Always consult your GP if you have any health concerns. Catherine Burns BA Hons, Dip ION is the managing director of Natural Ltd and a fully qualified Nutritional Therapist trained by the Institute for Optimum Nutrition in the UK. For details, please go to www.natural.bm or call 505-4725. Join Catherine on Facebook: www.facebook.com/nutrifitandnaturalnutritionbermuda or Instagram at @naturalbda

Exhausted but happy: Francine Dill crosses the finish line, elated after Beating the Couch 2019 (Photograph by Amy Harvey)

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Published January 03, 2020 at 7:00 am (Updated January 03, 2020 at 7:15 pm)

2020: make your goals bite-sized!

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