Setting targets for the New Year is something that many people do but few keep to. New Year's resolutions are more likely to be kept if they are the result of reflection and are symbolic of a new approach to life.
Assess your own priorities in life over Christmas and determine the progress you can make towards those objectives this year. Most people need to break down their life targets into year-sized chunks, to have a ten year plan.
Forget New Year's Resolutions. Start your Ten Year Plan this year.
- Buy a 10 Year Diary
- Assess our current position
- Write down where you want to be in 10 years
- Break the progress you need to make into year-sized, more manageable, segments
Buy a 10 Year Diary
Buy a good quality ten year diary, leather-bound even. It has to last and if you are serious about changing your life you will be looking at your diary a lot over the next ten years.
Assessing Your Current Health Position
Your health should be your top priority. Nothing else is possible if you are dead.
Think about your lifestyle and how it might be affecting your health. There is no point in being less than brutally honest. Why lie to yourself?
There are four factors that we have control over that affect our health: smoking tobacco, drinking alcohol, overeating and exercise.
Write down in your ten year diary, under the current date if possible, your current status regarding these four factors:
- How many cigarettes you have smoked in the past week
- How many glasses of wine/spirits/beer you have drunk in the past week
- How many calories you consumed yesterday
- How many minutes exercise you have taken this week
- Any health concerns you have
- Your weight
- Your blood pressure
- Your waist measurement
- Any other measurements (shirt size, bra size, etc)
Deciding Where You Want to be in Ten Years Time
Turn forward in your diary to 31st December in 10 years time.
Write down your desired weight, blood pressure, waist measurement and any other measurements you are targeting. These are targets so make them ambitious, you have ten years to reach them.
How Fast Do You Want to Reach Your Health Targets?
You have set ten year targets, but you might want to reach them much sooner. Anything you have set as a target in ten years time can be achieved in three years.
Copy your ten year targets onto the appropriate page in your ten year diary, on the December 31st page in three years time if that is your realistic target, for example.
Set annual targets in each area and write them on the appropriate page of your diary.
For the first year set monthly targets and weekly targets and write them into your diary.
If you like visual reminders then make a poster where you will see it every day that has your weekly targets on in terms of cigarettes, alcohol, diet and exercise.
You need to motivate yourself. Find the things that work for you. Possibilities include:
- Put all your cigarette and alcohol expenditure into tins at the start of a week. Treat yourself at the end of the week with anything that is left over
- Save what you would have spent on tobacco and alcohol for a spa weekend away
- Buy a can of beans for every pound you have to lose. Put them all into a bag and carry them around. Imagine how much better you are going to feel when your weight is that much lower
- Buy a packet of margarine for every pound you have to lose. Keep it on a shelf in the fridge and throw away a packet for every pound you lose in a week
- Imagine your children copying your smoking or drinking habits, think of the example you are setting them. Think how your smoking affects their health from inhaling your second-hand smoke
Nicotine patches or gum work for many people, others prefer the cold turkey approach. Both work if you are ready to give up smoking.
You decided on a timescale that was realistic for you, it is up to you to stick with it. Understand that your body has a chemical need for nicotine. Understand that smoking has other functions; it is a sociable habit, it masks nervousness and it makes you part of a group. You need to understand these non-chemical reasons behind tobacco addiction so that you can find answers to them.
Reducing Alcohol Consumption
If you have a serious alcohol problem consider Alcoholics Anonymous. Giving up alcohol on your own is almost impossible if you are an alcohol addict.
Many people want to reduce their alcohol for health reasons rather than because they are addicted to it. Even moderate consumption of alcohol has health risks and drinking less will improve your health, and probably your weight as well.
Find alternative soft drinks, or drink water. Avoid situations where you feel under pressure to drink alcohol. If you drink at home then change your eating habits to have smaller meals where wine or beer is less appropriate. Drink more tea and coffee. All of these ideas work some of the time, but you have decided to cut your alcohol consumption so decide which methods suit your lifestyle the best.
Improving Your Diet
Remember that eating healthily is a conscious decision you have made. The simplest way is to eat less fat and sugar. You can sign up for various diet help groups depending what is available in your area.
Consult your doctor for advice if you are more than fifteen pounds overweight.
Taking More Exercise
Increasing your exercise levels will reduce your appetite immediately afterwards, so time your exercise for just before meal times. Exercise also makes you feel happier because it releases endorphins into the bloodstream.
If you are significantly overweight or have any health concerns you should check with your doctor before taking significantly more exercise.
Exercise could be as simple as working in the garden or walking to the store instead of driving. Walk the children to school and enjoy the sunshine instead of driving and being stuck in traffic.