New year's resolutions....we often scoff and laugh when friends or family members mention them. When anyone mentions they are going to 'turn things round' we are likely to totally dismiss such claims.

It's only natural because everyone knows a lot of individuals for whom resolutions have been lucky to last a week or two. It makes you wonder why people even bother with this silly concept. But people do. And, believe it or not, some DO SUCCEED. 

It's all about attitude, what's led the individual to this state of readiness and whether that person has a support network to succeed. The main reason resolutions fail is the lack of deep thought and consideration of all the barriers and how to overcome them. 

January is a natural time to feel remorse because this country is drowning in booze. When it comes to Christmas we may as well just inject the stuff into our eyes. Even if you're somebody that seldom drinks, there's a massive chance of you getting more than jolly on a number of occasions. In the UK it's more or less forced on you. Then there's the food. Even the strictest individual can get sucked into the 'oh go on then...' attitude at this time of year. It's because everyone else is doing it. Personally I find 'pigs in blankets' utterly irresistible. And I'll always eat my body-weight in cheese. With gluttony all around me, I always drop my guard. Peer pressure is a subtle yet powerful thing.

The result of all this feasting and drinking is a feeling I would only describe as 'wobbly'. You feel bloated, chubby, not very sexy. With this comes a feeling that you must do something about your body image and general approach to health, fitness, and life.

Essentially we seek punishment. That in itself gives more of an idea as to why these plans often fail. Punishing ourselves isn't fun. January isn't fun. It's dark, cold, everyone's skint. Attempting to make life a bit tougher at such a bleak time sounds like a plan that's doomed to fail...surely we should be giving ourselves little rewards at this time? This is exactly the kind of battle that goes through the mind when trying to live 'better'.

This is exactly why you need to be seriously prepared for what it takes to achieve a 'new you'. You need a strategy and the right attitude - be realistic. This all begins with having specific aims. A lot of clients will come to a personal trainer to 'tone up' or 'lose weight'. We can then step in to define exactly what is meant by this. An example would be that you want to lose 2 stone and aim to do it within 3 months. For a lot of people this would be very achievable and realistic.

Next it's worth considering what has led you to this resolution. Are you just looking to get rid of that Christmas weight because you feel as if you 'let yourself go' a little? If so it's likely that you won't stick with any new health routine. The goals aren't real enough and you haven't reached a good state of readiness. It's likely that you'll just stop when things get a bit challenging. Basically, you don't want it enough. 

If you feel as if you've been on a bit of a downward spiral for a while and you're overtly aware of your negative association with food and you dislike looking in the mirror, chances are you have dealt with your own self esteem and body-image issues for long enough, having thought deeply about how it affects every aspect of your life and confidence. You want change and you feel as if you need change for yourself.

Even if you're ready to change. You need to think about barriers to your success. Do you have a support network? Do you have friends and family that will be likely to support you? It sounds silly - surely anyone would support you to make a healthy life change? It's not as simple as that. Often I train individuals who's partners or family members won't adapt to newly recommended habits. Sometimes it's almost as if they resent the suggestions. There can be many deep, unexpected feelings expressed by those close to clients willing to make a change. Jealousy, rivalry, insecurity can come to the surface. For example, a wife may be concerned that a husband will be likely to stray away from them and towards the company of 'more attractive' women. They might fear losing a more confident, upbeat partner.

There is so much to consider. You could analyse these points until the cows come home. You'll never be too sure exactly how a life change from you will affect those around you and their attitude towards you. But you should be able to establish whether you're likely to be able to make a difference in your own life, based on your state of readiness. If you're truly ready, you should know.





Ben Savin