January was named originally from the God Janus who was the God of doorways and gates. I think this is really fitting as this makes January the way or the entrance into something new – the month of a fresh start.

But if I do a quick search for the most googled in the last few days it’s a pretty revealing summary of how most of us feel in these early days of 2018

How to lose weight fast…

How to do dry January..

How to detox…

Sounds pretty miserable doesn’t it?  Not particularly optimistic or filling me with resolve and energy when I read that, in fact is sounds like punishment and most of us will run a mile from punishment.  So is it any wonder that most of us fail to make any lasting change when it is build on an internal thought process of pain and maybe even self loathing.

This got me thinking, I used to always love January – It and September were my 2 favourite months of the year. I still love September as the month when autumn  starts, the leaves fall and can you put on your almost winter clothes – we Irish definitely look better more covered up. January is a bit more complicated for me as it is the anniversary of the death of my first husband and once Christmas Day has passed I start to feel it approaching and yet deep in side me I still do start to prepare and mentally think about what plans I would like to make for the year. This planning always feels positive, hopeful and optimistic as I love seeing written down what i would love to achieve for the year. Even our daughter makes a list of what she would love to do as a family for the year – trips out, walks, experiences so she has the bug too.

So what if that Brain shift could be applied to helping you plan how to eat better, get fitter, detox (loads of water to help your liver is the answer by the way, not buy expensive ‘detox’ teas). How can you make it different, so you aren’t setting yourself up for failure from the word go, so that you can develop healthy habits that you can keep for a life time and not just for January? How can you reframe your thinking on making change so that you can cultivate real change that lasts. Lasting change starts in the Brain and making positive statements of intent around what we want are the most powerful catalyst of change.

There is an exercise you can do to really help you succeed and it’s this: Get yourself in a quiet place with a pen and paper and think back to a time when you were really excited and positive about a change you were planning or something you were excited about, really immerse yourself in those feelings of joy, pleasure and optimism. Now write down the changes you want to make but don’t write them down in negative terms, write them down as positive exciting changes which will enrich you and make you feel great. Look at them and keep remembering those feelings of joy from your memories and focus on those memories and what you have written to really anchor them into your brain . This is a proven method to associate your changes with joy and positivity to help you start with loads of energy and happy feelings.

Now that you have them anchored in positive feelings, remember to stop talk about what we can’t do or what we have to stop in order to
feel fitter and healthier – lets find ways to talk about how to enrich
our lives with the changes we are going to make. That won’t happen overnight – the first hurdle is catching yourself when you do it and congratulating yourself for realising it.  A few quick tips to get better at this and to help you keep going (because although change starts in the brain), we need to keep it going to embed it).

It’s not a diet – this word comes with a message of exclusion and elimination. If we think and talk about prohibited foods then this doesn’t represent a positive or sustainable way of thinking and feeling about food. Think about what you’ll be adding and including :-

I am going to eat more fruit and vegetables every day

I am going to Up my protein intake

I am going to learn to cook some simple meals

I am going to feel great when I ……

Remember that if it sounds too good to be true…… Much of the fitness and nutrition advice is sold to us as if this fancy NEW program is going to get us to our goals faster and easier than ever before. Of course this is really attractive, who doesn’t want to achieve their goals quickly but deep down we know there are no quick fixes. Just focus on today and get started whether that be back to the gym or out walking if you are starting from scratch. Put the junk food out of sight (better still dump it) and save your money. Ditch the shopping list packed with expensive superfoods, detox teas and return to buying real food.

Lets instead talk about moving more, getting outdoors more, enjoying nature and moving our bodies the way they were meant to move.

You’re not going to find God – Go easy on yourself. Wellness, Fitness, Nutrition are all now being pursued with too much reliogiosity and almost being presented as something that none of us can truly achieve.  Especially if we look on line it can seem even more unattainable and I for one usually end up feeling less than happy with my myself when I look at all these models of perfection posting pictures of their beautiful abs and fantastic diets. Then I remind myself, they are human too, and we aren’t seeing behind the scenes at what is going on in their lives.  Eating well, moving more will help us fell and look better and that is ENOUGH. Eat in a way that makes you feel your best. This might look a little different from one person to the next but it is right if it feels like something you could do forever.

Share, Give and Get Support  – Visit a place at least once per week that has people who support and encourage your lifestyle changes and where you can encourage others. This could be a gym, a bookclub, a church or somewhere you volunteer. Friendship and company will help strengthen your resolve to keep you going through kind words of support. Giving support to others also helps you find balance and purpose. Remember those feelings from the exercise up top – you will get those again by giving and receiving support to others and I for one love how that feels. 

Make January good again – a doorway to real lasting change.