Now is the time when many of us make a resolution or two – but how do you make them stick? Here are 10 simple tweaks that will help you achieve change.
YOU WANT TO: START RUNNING/WALKING, OR GO FURTHER/FASTER
USE: The distance trick.
Rutgers University researcher Shana Cole has found that if you focus your gaze on an object in the distance, it seems closer to you and getting there feels easier. “People walked over 20 per cent faster when they focused,” says Shana. To try the trick, pick a target three to 10 metres away that you can clearly see and aim to get there. Once there, pick a new target. Repeat until you’ve reached your goal.
YOU WANT TO: DRINK LESS ALCOHOL
GET: A pouring rule and don’t break it.
When people do this their alcohol consumption naturally falls by about a quarter, shows a US study. In the trial the researchers suggested people stick to the rule of pouring only half a glass. “Regardless of the size of the glass, it did make it less likely that people drank too much,” says Professor Brian Wansink from Cornell University. Other rules you could adopt include leaving a two-finger gap at the top, or filling the glass with ice before you add any alcohol.
YOU WANT TO: EAT FEWER SNACKS
ADD: A little more protein to your meals.
Research from the University of Sydney has found that if we don’t consume enough protein throughout the day our body will urge us to keep eating, triggering cravings that we tend to feed with sugary snacks rather than the protein it needs. You don’t need to load your plate with steak and eggs though. “We don’t advocate a high-protein diet, which we generally find to be unsustainable – instead, eat a balanced diet,” says study author Dr Alison Gosby. Simply add a small portion of protein like eggs, fish, nuts or dairy to each meal.
YOU WANT TO: IMPROVE YOUR SLEEP
MOVE: Your office chair.
The more your body clock is tuned into the natural cycles, the better you’ll sleep. You’ve probably heard that staying off electronic gadgets at night can help but so does getting more light during the day. A study by Dr Phyllis Zee at Northwestern University in the US found those exposed to the most natural light during the day also sleep best at night. But if you can’t get outside much even a light through a window gets results. Try to work within seven to eight metres from a window if you want to improve your health, sleep and overall well-being, says Dr Zee. If your office set-up doesn’t allow for that then do try and get some bright light while you have breakfast, or at lunchtime to top up your levels.
YOU WANT TO: BE HAPPIER
RECORD: Something positive each day.
US research shows that those who recalled the good things in their life daily, and wrote them down, were more positive and motivated about their current situation and their future. Take things one step further and display your favourite motivational quotes in your home or office for an added boost of positivity. Sign up for a Modern Calligraphy Workshop so that you write the quotes on your own (they make for great gifts for friends too!). Ruth Tan of The Workroom conducts three-hour beginners’ workshops which cover the tools used, basic strokes and the alphabet. Visit www.thelittlehappyshop.com for more information.
YOU WANT TO: BREAK YOUR ONLINE ADDICTION
DOWNLOAD: The Moment app to your phone.
Inventor Kevin Holesh developed this app when he moved in with his fiancee, now wife, in 2013 and realised they were spending their evenings on social media rather than talking. It shows you how long you spend on a device in a day – and lets you set a time limit at which it’ll nudge you to stop. “At first I suggest people use Moment to get a sense of how much time they’re spending on their phone and then think ‘How might I better have spent those minutes’,” says Kevin. “It gives you a baseline and the motivation to set your limit.” Moment app is available free from iTunes.
YOU WANT TO: GO TO THE GYM MORE OFTEN
BUY: A new gym kit.
Yes, we all know that making a regular time for your workout or committing to a session with a buddy will help get you to the gym. But possibly the simplest way to boost workout motivation is to buy a new top, shorts or shoes to exercise in. It’s because of a theory called “enclothed cognition”, which says that if you look the part for a task, you’re more likely to do it.
Don’t swap all your kit at once though. “It’s possible that we habituate clothes so they lose their potency after we wear them for many days or weeks,” says enclothed cognition researcher Professor Hajo Adam. Start with one new addition, then add others if your motivation wanes again.
YOU WANT TO: STOP FALLING INTO THE TAKEAWAY DINNER TRAP
TRY: The letter swap.
We loved this tip we found on the Facebook page of celebrity fitness trainer Richard Callender. He suggests calling fast food “fat food” instead. “It doesn’t sound quite so appealing now, does it – whipping up a quick salad sounds like a much better idea,” says Richard.
If the family wants a weekend treat though, order the meal in person or by phone rather than online. According to US research, the Internet creates a layer of anonymity that makes it more likely that we’ll order more dishes and consume more calories.
YOU WANT TO: WORRY LESS
PRACTISE: The five whys.
This trick helps solve all manner of problems. All you do is ask why something is bothering you so much. When you come up with the answer, then ask why that also worries you? Repeat the process and by the fifth time you ask why, you reach the root cause of what’s bothering you – at that point you normally find the solution to the problem or more likely realise it’s nothing you should really be losing sleep over, says psychologist Tony Crabbe. You can find this tip in his book Busy: How to Thrive in a World of Too Much.
YOU WANT TO: OVERHAUL YOUR WHOLE DIET
JOIN: A whole 30 challenge.
A huge social media trend, Whole 30 sees you cutting out foods like sugar, alcohol and junk food for just 30 days, the idea being that cutting those foods out helps you reset unhealthy eating patterns. But it might also identify foods upsetting your system so you can consider moderating your intake of them in the future.
See more at whole30.com and if you try it, use the hashtag #whole30 on social media and you’ll find other people who are trying the challenge too. If that sounds a bit too much, then try plant powering instead. This sees you filling two thirds of your plate with foods from plant sources, such as fruit, vegetables, grains, nuts, or soya product. The other third can then be whatever else you’d like to consume. W
Text: Bauer Syndication / Photos: © seasons.agency / Jalag / Baum, Andreas, 123rf.com, © StockFood / King, Dave.