New Year’s resolutions – how can we make them stick?
It’s that time of year when we make those New Year resolutions. Mostly, the good intentions don’t last and the pledges we make to ourselves turn to dust.
In this blog, I will try and articulate a personal journey I have gone on in the last 7 months; what I have learned so far in achieving my personal goals; more importantly, how I can sustain that achievement from now onwards. Hopefully, by following a similar plan, anyone reading this can make their New Year resolutions stick.
Reason for change
There must be a genuine reason to change. In my case, it started with a routine trip to the opticians for a regular eye test. With the fancy equipment they have these days, he advised me that I may have a blood pressure issue as he could spot something showing up on my retina. I took his advice and went to the doctors who confirmed that I had a blood pressure issue. The good news being that my blood sugar and cholesterol levels were fine. However, with a family history of strokes (my Granddad and Uncle) it was clear that I needed to do something about it and at 19st 8lbs with a BMI of 38.3 (healthy being 25), it was obvious where the problem was. Being honest with myself, it was something I knew but had chosen to ignore with all the usual excuses.
Support to change
I now had a very good reason to change. At 59, I wanted to be around a bit longer than the path I was inevitably going on. But to make a big change in lifestyle that would be needed, I needed support and help. I was lucky in that my surgery participates in a scheme called “Move it Lose it” which offers free gym membership for 3 months and 3 months membership of a slimming support group. As a Yorkshireman, I love free things, and this was a great way to get started.
I joined the gym and started going to the “Move it Lose it” classes and going on a Saturday and Sunday morning instead of reading the papers. I also started making different eating choices and started losing weight. At this stage, only my wife and close family were aware of what I had started but their support is of course very important (my wife couldn’t give up chocolate though, but was a bit more discreet). As for the slimming group…!
Embrace the things you might you think you might not like!
We have seen fat fighters on Little Britain and it’s a fact that ‘real men don’t go to slimming clubs’, do they? That was my view and to say I was reluctant to go is an understatement. I had a list of where groups were, and my wife said she would come with me, so a month after I started the program, I was going to attend my first group. However, the group at St Wilfred’s church hall which I though was just down the road, turned out to be the wrong St Wilfred’s as the hall was in darkness. Not a good start!
In my head though, I had made the decision, so did attend a group in town on a Wednesday night, and after being thrown bodily through the doors, I joined the group. And yes, there were other men in the group, a couple starting at the same time. The joy! At the weigh-in (it is not public, and nobody laughs or humiliates you) I was 18st 8lb, so progress had been made since my visit to the doctor. So how has the slimming club helped?
Have a plan
Most of us embark on journeys like this with a vague idea of what we should be doing. One of the benefits of joining a slimming group is that it gives you a plan. It guides you what you should be eating and what you should be careful about eating. It doesn’t say, you can’t eat cake, or chocolate, or whatever, but if you do, account for it. You can eat as much as you want of most things like, fat free protein, veg, fruit, rice (plain), potatoes etc. It’s easy to follow (must be if I can), it makes sense and most importantly, it slowly changes your habits, so it becomes a lifestyle choice. Also, it works. If you follow the plan you will lose weight. Simples, as they say. For me personally, this is something I need and it has helped.
Structure, discipline, objectives
Easy to say, hard to do. Again, for me personally, I need some structure and discipline to help focus me on what I want to achieve. Again, the slimming group has helped enormously in this. When I joined, I was asked what my target was. I didn’t have a clue. I had seen the ‘Club 10’ award (10% loss of weight) so I set that as my target. That was 16st 10lb. I thought that was a stretch and wouldn’t get there. I reached it in week 11. So, I had to reset my target which again I set at a level I thought I couldn’t reach. I have since moved it 3 more times, much to the confusion of everyone.
Also, the structure and discipline of getting weighed every week (I do have my lucky weigh-in shorts which are now too big for me and inappropriate in this cold weather!) and the support you get from the group sessions are really important and have helped enormously.
Leadership and rewards
Like in any business, leadership and rewards are vital to success. In my case, the slimming group is brilliantly led by Beth Wilson, who is not only lovely but inspirational and supportive. She leads by example, is always supportive, offers help if needed and goes that extra mile outside of the group sessions to support those who may be struggling. Always smiling, even when she has tough times herself. Beth has been an important part of my journey so far. She probably doesn’t know it, but if she reads this she will!
When dealing with clients, I often discuss non-financial rewards and how far small gestures can go to keep people motivated, on track and reward success. Those certificates and ‘shinies’ when you reach a milestone are important. They are public recognition of achievement and I know friends, family and colleagues at Gateway HR have been bombarded with mine. It is also important, I believe, to share your successes so everyone knows and can continue with that support to continue the change.
So where am I now?
Well, you are looking at Mr Sleek 2018. An honour I never thought I would ever get. I have been called many things but sleek has never been one of them. At the last weigh-in I was 13st 11lb; a loss of 4st 11lb in 29 weeks (plus the stone I lost before joining). My target is now 13st 7lb and that will be it, I will be happy at that. My BMI is 26.9 so much closer to the 25 I’m supposed to be (although I’m happy at just above). And my blood pressure is fine, and I bought and got into a pair of 34” slim fit trousers the other day. I don’t think I’ve been that size since about 1982. I feel a lot better – if poorer as I have to buy new clothes, although my Christmas list was easy this year!
So, is that it, near journey’s end? No. The next challenge, which is probably even greater, is to maintain and not go back to where I was. This is my New Year’s resolution for 2019 and I will be using the lessons learned so far to do this.
Happy New Year and all the very best for 2019.