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Make small tweaks this year for a better you

Published on: 23 Jan 2018

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It's often an uphill struggle to start the new year with January blues, Christmas debts and despair at perhaps failing some of those well thought out new year resolutions. Well, hopefully we are passing that phase, after all we have survived 'the most depressing day of the year' - 15th January -(who knew); so now it's all about planning for the year ahead with positive strides to keep us happy, well and motivated.

Look ahead and set yourself small goals for each month of the year.. ending 2018 feeling like you have achieved something and feeling better. We all know that success breeds success after all. 

Motivate yourself to tweak something each month, and here are our ideas, just as a start. 

Drink more water. Ah, the virtues of hydration and hydrating with simple water. There are countless benefits from clear thinking to clear skin.  It can also aid weight loss as filling up on water reduces the need for grabbing those sugary, go to snacks. And the ultimate bonus, it helps flush out any toxins. 

We all know the saying "Eat like a King at breakfast..." so this is the month to prioritise a good breakfast setting yourself up well at the beginning of the day and kick starting your metabolism early on. Time is no excuse as the all famous overnight oats can be prepped the night before. Evidence proves that those that have lost weight, keep it off by simply ensuring they have a good breakfast... that's got to be a motivator. You will also be sharper and more focussed in your working day.

So by now... with clear skin, focussed thoughts and a healthier tum, let's focus on your sleep. Quite simply, aim for more. A quarter of adults do not get enough and the effects are fairly impactful. Getting your zzzz's helps your body fight off illnesses like the common cold or flu and can help reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes.  Aim to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, reducing alcohol, caffeine and increasing exercise to encourage a very happy 7-8 hours each night. Give your body the best chance of repair and growth.

Create a food diary so you are more informed of what you are putting in your body. We are all guilty of snacking out of boredom or just ease. Research shows that if you are documenting what you eat, you are more aware and can also easily see where you need to make changes.

Introduce walking. It's free, doesn't require any equipment and you can do it anywhere and everywhere. Aspire to a 20-30 minute brisk walk five times a week.  Take the stairs and/or get off the bus/ train a stop early. It all helps.

Get your five a day. We all know how important our greens are but often in a hurry they can be overlooked. Plan ahead to ensure fruit and veg are a huge part of your daily food intake. Low in calories and high in fibre, it's win win. Remember the more colourful your plate the better it is for you. We should all try and limit the beige - Pasta, white potatoes, bread etc. 

Change your plate size and see immediate results. Use a slightly smaller plate, ensuring you have smaller portions without trying very hard. 

If you agree (as this can be a topic killer), try and go a couple of days a week meat free. There are so many scummy meat free meals out there it is far easier than you would think. Red and deli meats are the worst so even if you reduce them you are encouraging a healthier diet, and a reduced risk of cancer and heart disease. 

Team up this month with a work out buddy. If you are committed to somebody else you are less likely to give in to the excuses... and being with a friend makes exercise much more fun. 

Breathe, count and slow down. This could be used in many aspects of your life to give you a sense of calm, but here we are talking about when you are eating. Slow down your eating to allow your brain to catch up; after all it takes 20 minutes for your brain to notify you that you are full. 

In today's world of social media, emails and mobile phones, very few of us switch off both electronically and hence mindfully. Take a break from it all so you can then focus on other things. As a start analyse your 'screen time' and set goals to reduce it. You'll be amazed at what can be achieved.

In a busy mind it's hard to take on anything extra but try and make a goal of learning something, however small. Flex your brain, stimulate yourself and create new interests. However tiny, it simply adds to you.

You may have noticed we have avoided any talk of work... but as we are always thinking jobs jobs jobs, it's in our blood after all; it is certainly worth acknowledging that all of the above will contribute to a healthier, happier you.......And a healthier, happier you is a more confident, productive you either in your current role or if you are branching out of your comfort zone and looking for a new one. 2018 is your year Leisurejobbers. Go for it.