How to do this year differently


Happy New Year!

When it comes to weight loss and fitness, a lot of us no longer believe in setting New Year’s resolutions. Maybe you’ve tried and failed so many times before that you simply don’t trust yourself to see them through anymore. Or perhaps it’s a realisation that this particular day of the year is no different to any other; you won’t magically be more motivated, while hard decisions don’t suddenly become any easier just because our calendar starts anew.

The types of resolutions we tend to set at New Year also aren’t conducive to long term success.

“I’m going to get fitter”

“I’m going to earn more money”

“I’m going to be kinder to my friends”

These are all fantastic outcomes, but achievable, actionable goals they are not. Maybe it’s not New Year’s resolutions themselves which are an issue, but the way we set ourselves up to fail.

A fresh approach

“People consistently overestimate what they can achieve in a day and underestimate what they can achieve in a year”

This quote has been attributed to a number of successful people, but it’s particularly relevant when setting your New Year’s resolutions.

What you can achieve in a day is limited; those excess pounds and kilos you want to shed won’t suddenly fall off, your VO2 max won’t sky rocket and you won’t be able to add 20kg to your gym lifts. We all appreciate this of course, but the problem is these longer-term goals can seem very far off in the dark days of January, so depressingly so that after a couple of weeks we can feel so dejected the hard work necessary to reach them can seem impossible.

So, set yourself up to work toward what you can achieve in a day:

  • going to the gym
  • eating your fruit and vegetables
  • making sure you get good sleep

Take a moment and just visualise the difference the compound impact of this after 365 days. 365 days of waking up and doing what needs to be done whether you feel like it or not.

Whatever your goal for the year, commitment and discipline are the two best resolutions you can set yourself to improve your chance adopting better habits and achieving success.

The power of marginal gains

In 2003 Dave Brailsford was the recently appointed performance director of British cycling. A 10 year span saw 178 world championships, over 60 Olympic gold medals and 5 tour de France successes. Brailsford’s secret? The aggregation of marginal gains. Tasking his team with achieving just a 1% improvement every day, by the end of the year, the numbers suggested they would see a 37x improvement!

Rather than set ridiculous goals in an impossibly short time, the team was committed to getting a little bit better each day. This is something so often overlooked by people when they set New Year health and fitness goals, yet it is a simple path to success.

When it comes to weight loss, with a little help you can turn these theories into practice

My four-week course, Taking the emotion out of emotional eating, is designed to give you the tools you need to help change your habits around food. If you are fed up with yo-yo dieting and wrestling with food issues and are interested in more sustainable answers, then join me on a journey that can show you how to overcome using food as an emotional crutch. If you are setting a resolution this year, why not make it a commitment to the process of change? I’ll be delighted to help set you on the path to success.

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Ian is a Registered Dietitian specialising in the use of mindfulness and behaviour science to help people make sustained improvements to their health.

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