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Top 10 New Year resolutions and how to make them achievable

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Losing weight, doing more exercise and eating more healthily are some of the most common New Year resolutions, but making them happen isn't always an easy task. Here's how to make those resolutions stick.

1. Exercise more

How to make it achievable

If you don't like running, trying to get up at 6am every day to go for a jog probably won't last long – so first off, find a form of exercise you enjoy.

Second, be specific about your goal, whether it's cycling to work twice a week, going to a dance class every weekend, or getting off the bus one stop early. This eliminates excuses and provides a clear guide as to whether you're achieving what you set out to do.

Lastly, make sure that goal is achievable. The key is to start small, and build from there.

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Staying active doesn't have to mean spending hours in the gym. Nicola Addison, fitness and wellbeing expert, shares her advice on how to start exercising.

2. Lose weight

How to make it achievable

Most of us have been on a diet at one point or another. The problem is that they're often too restrictive and not sustainable in the long term.

It's also important to consider your motivations for losing weight: is it necessary for health reasons, or is it because of societal pressure?

If you decide to go ahead, slow and steady is the aim. Work out how much you need to lose to reach a healthy BMI and then set a realistic time frame; most experts recommend aiming for a loss of 1-2lbs a week, remembering that there will be weeks where your weight plateaus.

Our bodies allow us to run, cycle or do yoga, hug our loved ones, go on holiday, to see and smell beautiful things – and ultimately keep us alive every day, so be kind and cut yourself some slack.

3. Eat more healthily

How to make it achievable

Simply telling yourself you'll eat more healthily without a solid plan, or any specifics about what a healthy diet entails, is a common mistake – as is making any eating plan too restrictive.

Instead, set specific, achievable goals, such as:

  • Cooking the correct portion size of carbohydrates at every evening meal
  • Replacing your afternoon chocolate bar with a healthier snack
  • Replacing the sugar on your cereal with fruit
  • Eating fish one day a week
  • Taking a multivitamin supplement every day

4. Take a more proactive approach to health

How to make it achievable

Prevention is better than cure – so taking the small, everyday steps that will help us safeguard our future health is infinitely better than letting preventable health problems arise.

As with many of the other resolutions, define exactly what you mean by being proactive, and which areas of your health you're talking about. Making appointments in advance for the rest of the year (for any health check-ups or dentist visits, for example) is one way to ensure things don't slip off your radar.

Checking your supplements could be another – or setting up a subscription to ensure that you never run out of your essentials, while also saving you money and the effort of re-ordering.

At this time of year, looking after your immune system might be a good place to start.

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5. Learn a new skill or hobby

How to make it achievable

Some of the main challenges when it comes to maintaining a hobby are time and money, so it's important to consider these from the beginning.

  • Make the most of classes. These will help keep you accountable and make it harder for you to make excuses. Likewise if you commit to a hobby or activity with a friend.
  • Block out the time in your diary. This will help you think of this time as an appointment, making it harder for you to simply book something else over the top.
  • Find a time that consistently works for you. This helps you make your hobby a habit, and part of your regular routine. Many people find early in the morning works best, so they get the time in before life's other responsibilities take over.
  • Ensure it works for your budget. Starting a new hobby doesn't have to mean paying a small fortune. There are plenty of low–cost options – from various arts and crafts to community classes or book clubs.

6. Spend more time on personal wellbeing

How to make it achievable

We are all different when it comes to the amount of time we need for ourselves, as well as what helps us unwind and de-stress.

Often ten minutes on your yoga mat every morning, or 20 minutes reading your book before bed, or a lunchtime walk will do the trick – but make sure you set a specific and achievable goal, and check-in regularly to see what's working and what's not.

7. Spend more time with family and friends

How to make it achievable

Spending more time with loved ones is a goal many of us want to prioritise in the new year – but consistently finding free time for family and friends is a challenge, especially with conflicting schedules.

One of the most successful ways people manage this is to establish rules around meal times (usually dinner). It might be the rule that dinner is eaten as a household every night and that once a month (for example, the first Saturday of the month), the extended family gets together.

8. Drink less alcohol

How to make it achievable

According to Alcohol Change, many of us drink too much without realising it. If you're looking to cut back:

  • Quantify your goal – such as a maximum of one drink on any weekday evening, or only drinking on weekends.
  • Rope in your friends and family. This is a challenge that's easier to take on together – and will make it easier for you to succeed.
  • Download the Try Dry app to help you keep track of your units, calories and money saved.
  • Have a non-alcoholic favourite on hand can help to ensure you don't feel left out.

9. Stop smoking

How to make it achievable

Giving up smoking is notoriously challenging – but that doesn't mean it's not possible. Like any big or challenging goal, it can help to break it down and set smaller goals along the way.

The NHS say that if you can make it to 28 days smoke-free, you're 5 times more likely to quit for good – so first aim for one day, then three days, a week, a fortnight and a month smoke-free.

The NHS Quit Smoking app is also a great tool for tracking your progress, seeing how much you're saving and getting daily support.

10. Reduce your screen time

How to make it achievable

Most devices will now allow you to see and monitor your screen time – and the number can be a shock. Social media is a common culprit, zapping away more time than we realise.

The first thing you can do is turn off notifications, and put rules in place dictating when you will check your phone.

If you find it difficult to impose rules on yourself, you can set usage limits on your phone itself, helping you cut down on things like social media. Alternatively, you can also set reminders on your computer or phone, telling you to take a break.

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Nutritionist Sarah Dumont-Gale talks about why the blue light emitted from our laptops, tablets, mobile phones and televisions can negatively impact our health.

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