Putting your best foot forward. How are your New Near Resolutions going?

Do you manage to stick to your resolutions? It seems that most people just can’t do it. They know what they should do, right enough (lose weight, get fitter, spend less, be tidier etc) but it’s just too difficult to see it through.

Well, there’s a simple trick to achieving what you want to achieve, and that is to find the fun in it. Let me explain.


Let’s take getting fitter as an exampler. It’s mid-January, so the annual peak in gym membership applications is here. There will be lots of new faces signing up for classes or inductions to the gym to start the process of losing weight and toning up. How many of these people will still be regularly training in February? Not so many, I’d be prepared to bet. The problem is that unless you are fairly fit to start with going to the gym, or an energetic Zumba or dance class, it’s going to be too hard to be fun. And if things aren’t fun, it’s very hard to stick to them. At the slightest excuse (it’s pouring with rain: my kit’s in the wash…) it’s too easy to give up. But if things are fun, you do them whatever the inconvenience. Shopping? Going to the pub? Many people don’t have to be asked twice!

I’ve written a short Kindle book to explain my thinking about getting fit through walking, and I’m sure that this is a really good way for most people to get started.

You see, establishing the habit of walking doesn’t need too much time or special equipment. Most people can easily fit some walking into their normal day, either walking to work, or walking the children to school, or walking the dog or going to the library. If you choose your walks carefully and have the right mental approach you can easily find that walking is fun. The more pleasure you find in walking, the more you want to do it, and the fitter you become. The key is enjoying the place you are walking; taking notice or and an interest in what is around you. If you can manage a fast walk for 30 minutes or more, preferably including some hill work, then you are probably fit enough to enjoy going to the gym or starting an energetic class. Read more in my book. A beginner’s guide to walking for pleasure   ASIN B00L3D7ENY.

The same principles apply to other areas of life. To take one more example, it’s easier to eat better and spend less on food if you learn to enjoy cooking. It is fun to cook if you approach it with the right positive attitude; starting with something quite easy and building up new techniques as you gain confidence. I’ve enjoyed cooking for years, but am still working through some techniques that are new to me – making my own pasta for example, and getting good at making bread by hand. (My rye and wheat loaf with caraway seeds and ale was a masterpiece!) Again, it’s about enjoying learning new skills and the results of your work.

So, don’t set yourself up to fail by setting too big a challenge for yourself. Start small-ish, but keep challenging yourself. Above all, find a way to make what you want a pleasure, by focusing on the positives, and you’ll find it much easier to get where you want to be.

Goodbye 2012. What’s your approach to 2013?

go with the flow

Sunday 30 December 2012.

You are probably already thinking about New Year Resolutions.  We all do at this time of the year, don’t we?

Partly is because we are mentally starting a new calendar and we have that whole fresh year spreading out ahead of us to make the most of. Partly it’s because we already feel at least a bit guilty about all the extra food and drink we have consumed in December, not to mention the amount we have spent during the last year on things we don’t really need.  Partly too it’s due to an in-built desire to make the most, and to be able to feel proud, of ourselves, perhaps recognising a need to turn things around for ourselves.

What does the picture I’ve slotted in above have to do with resolutions?  Well to me resolutions are about being realistic and not trying to set on something that goes too much against the flow of my nature and what I am able to do.  If I set myself a target that is honestly unattainable, I am bound to fail.

So I do want to get back on track with my health, but no grapefruit-and-yogurt-drop-two-dress-sizes-in-a-month diets for me.  I know that I can lay off snacks and chocolatey treats, and drink alcohol only at the weekend (and then just a glass).  I know I can exercise more too, and tomorrow I’ll resume visits to the gym on a consistent basis, but I’m afraid you’ll never see me entering the London Marathon.

I’ll revisit my long-term issue with controlling portion size for meals.  The problem is I love food and cooking, and if you make something delicious it is really difficult to stick to the amount you know you should eat.  So renewed determination is called for.

My big resolution for this year is to make sure I organise my time, so that I have some time each week to be creative, and to properly keep in touch with the people who are important to me.  I have several projects in mind that I should be able to develop into something that is at least personally satisfying, but which might also be the basis for a little business enterprise …  it’s too soon to share details just now, but by this time next year I hope to have something to show for it.

Enjoy your New Year’s Eve whatever you are doing.  Good luck with choosing and sticking to your resolutions and have a truly marvellous 2013.