How to stick to New Year’s resolutions (and what to do if you falter)

Many start the new year full of good intentions. [Photo: Getty]
Many start the new year full of good intentions. [Photo: Getty]

The old adage “new year, new you” sees many vowing to lose weight, read more and spend less.

While intentions may be good, the temptation of cupcakes, Netflix specials and January sales can make resolutions hard to stick to.

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For those determined to hit their targets, experts explain how to stay on track and what to do if you falter.

READ MORE: Should you do Dry January?

“If you really want to change your behaviour, take the time and make the effort to understand it,” Dr Paul McLaren, medical director at Priory Hayes Grove, told Yahoo UK. 

“Weigh up your options, and make a balance sheet of the pros and cons of changing or carrying on.

“If it’s something you know is really harming you, like drinking or eating too much, get help with it.”

Your GP should be able to offer support or signpost you to specialist care.

If a close friend managed to get down to a healthy weight or a family member gained control of their finances, be open to asking them for advice.

“Find out how people who have managed to change in that way have done so,” Dr McLaren said.

READ MORE: Pros and cons of Veganuary

For those who like a drink, going “cold turkey” may be a tall order. It may therefore be easier to limit tipples to meal times or go without several days a week.

“Chunk what seem to be huge insurmountable obstacles into small bits that can be tackled one at a time,” Dr McLaren said. 

“Small victories will spur you forward.”

With “getting fit” a top resolution for many, Dr Daniel Atkinson - clinical lead at Treated.com - warns not to over do it.

“If you push yourself too hard, too soon, you are likely to experience overexertion through exercise,” he said.

“It will take your body much longer to heal and recover if you’re putting yourself through intense workouts.

“This can then have negative repercussions on your immune system, leading to you becoming more prone to illness and infection.” 

READ MORE: Beware this Veganuary - a plant-based diet may make hangovers worse

Rather than setting a fitness goal to achieve by 2021, it may be less overwhelming to focus on where you want to be in the next few weeks or months, Dr Atkinson added.

If you fall back into bad habits, try not to give yourself too hard a time.

“New Year’s resolutions are no more likely to be sustained than January 14 or April 3 resolutions,” Dr McLaren said.

“Resolve not to beat yourself up about failure but rather learn from it for next year.”

While you may not have hit the goal you had in mind, your efforts would not have been wasted.

“You must not look upon any setback or relapse with your resolutions as a failure; don’t think of yourself as a failure either,” he said.

“Rather than focusing on the negative, look at the positive”.

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