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Luckily, setting effective goals is a skill you can master – here's how.
The big mistake most of us make? Being unrealistic. When you're feeling bloated after a Christmas blowout, it can be tempting to decide you're going to transform yourself into a wellness hero, rising at 6am for a daily run, going plant-based and drinking nothing but herbal teas.
But if you're a night owl who lives on convenience food and can't remember when you last set foot in a gym, you're setting yourself up to fail. Start smaller, with manageable goals that fit easily into your life. If you're not a morning person, three evening jogs a week will be more realistic than a daily dawn run, for example.
You're more likely to stick to your plans if you have the right support in place, whether that's practical help or your family cheering you on.
If you want to get fitter, get a partner to exercise with – they'll push you to keep exercising.
"It's important to get into a routine," says GP Dr Sarah Brewer. "I take all my supplements at night and keep them in by bedside drawer – I find it easy to remember to take them before putting the light out."
If you're taking supplements at different times of day, try to link taking them to things you already do. For example, if you need to take a supplement in the morning, you could put the pack next to your toothbrush or the kettle (but keep it out of the reach of children.)
"There's one supplement I take in the morning – ubiquinol," says Dr Brewer. "I leave that on top of the bedside table so I see it, and remember to take it with my bowl of yogurt and granola, which I eat in the bedroom after my early morning sea swim."
It's just the same with whatever you're trying to do. Aiming to get fitter? Set your alarm half an hour earlier and walk part of the way to work. Trying to drink more water? Have a glass every time you go into the kitchen. Want to eat more fruit? Keep bowls of fresh fruit around your home so you're prompted to grab an apple when you go past.
If you can make something a habit, you'll soon be doing it without even having to think about it.
There's a bank of evidence to show that making a structured plan is the way to go.4 So, rather than just saying you're going to lose weight or eat more healthily, decide how you're going to do it.
For example, you could decide you're going to go meat-free three days a week for the next month. Think about how you're going to achieve that – perhaps you need to stock up on plant-based staples and find some new recipes.
When you get to the end of the month, look back and see whether you achieved your goal. If you did, set a goal for the next month. If you struggled, think about what got in the way and how you could do it differently.
Goals like getting fitter, eating more healthily and maintaining weight loss need to be long-term if they're going to be effective. Here are some ideas to help:
Good luck – it's worth it!
Nothing beats a healthy, balanced diet to provide all the nutrients we need. But when this isn't possible, supplements can help. This article isn't intended to replace medical advice. Please consult your healthcare professional before trying supplements or herbal medicines.
IntroNorcross J.C et al (1989). The resolution solution: longitudinal examination of New Year's change attempts, Journal of Substance Abuse, 1988;1(2):127-134
1NHS, Quit smoking
2Irwin, B.C. at al (2012). Aerobic Exercise Is Promoted when Individual Performance Affects the Group: A Test of the Kohler Motivation Gain Effect, Annals of Behavioral Medicine
3Ahern A L et al (2017). Extended and standard duration weight-loss programme referrals for adults in primary care (WRAP): a randomised controlled trial, Lancet 2017; 389: 2214–25
4Oscarsson M et al (2020). A large-scale experiment on New Year's resolutions: Approach-oriented goals are more successful than avoidance-oriented goals, PLoS One 2020;15(12):e0234097