Expert tips on how to set and achieve your new year resolutions

Updated: Dec 25, 2017, 13:01 IST | Anindita Paul | Mumbai

Don't derail the New Year with too many, or unrealistic resolutions. Experts highlight 10 focus areas that can make all the difference

It's no secret that for most people, New Year is a time for new beginnings. The tradition predates modern civilisation; in fact, the Babylonians were the first to make (and break) New Year's resolutions. According to data from the Statistic Brain Research Institute, 45 per cent of respondents made New Year's resolutions in 2017. However, the University of Scranton also found that only eight per cent were able to achieve their goals. The reason, say experts, is that most people associate resolutions with lengthy bucket lists or extreme transformations. And while ambitious change is a noble aspiration, it may also intimidate you into not taking action at all.

Instead, focus on small, attainable goals that will result in incremental changes through the year. Experts explain how you can get started:

2018

Eat right
1 Count nutrients, not calories: "A healthy diet must be nutritionally rich, not calorically low. Your meals must include a mix of all macronutrients i.e. arbohydrates, proteins and fat, and micronutrients including vitamins and minerals that give your body energy and nourishment to sustain itself," says Hitha Bhankharia of the Digestive Health Institute by Dr Muffi. Commenting on the ketogenic, vegan, gluten-free and detox diets that gained popularity in 2017, she adds, "Many diets increase the risk of certain diseases in the long run, and can alter and slow down your metabolism, making it easier to regain the weight once you stop the extreme diet."

2 Keep it seasonal: The Indian Journal of Community Medicine found that a third of the country's population suffers from vitamin and micronutrient deficiencies.

Micronutrients, as the term suggests, are required in minute quantities but are essential for a variety of bodily functions. Bhankharia advises giving priority to dietary sources. "Eat natural and seasonal foods in their least processed state. Include filtered oils, unrefined grains, local veggies and fruits in your diet. Get as much colour on your plate as possible," she adds.

3 Read labels: Modern, urban lifestyles often see us reaching for packaged foods to save time and effort. When selecting packaged foods, Bhankharia suggests that you read the ingredients list first. "On a product label, the ingredients are listed in order of predominance, with those used in the greatest amount appearing first. If the first three ingredients contain sugar - or its derivatives or alternatives - or fat in the form of trans-fat or oil, or sodium, salt, sodium benzoate, disodium or monosodium glutamate (MSG) or tastemaker, the food can be classified as unhealthy," she says.

4 Eat for your gut: "About 80 per cent of our immunity starts from the gut," says Luke Coutinho from Integrative and Lifestyle Medicine. Poor gut health can result in constipation, flatulence, acid reflux, ulcers and, in certain chronic cases, even cancer. Remedy this with a fibre-rich balanced diet, eating probiotics such as curd, getting adequate sleep and hydration, and curbing stress with meditation and deep breathing.

2018

Get moving
5 Make your workouts short and impactful: Less is more when it comes to exercise, advises Coutinho. "Workouts longer than 30 minutes can cause negative stress to the body, leading to inflammation and belly fat," he says. Shailendra Rane of Reset Holistic Living Concepts recommends Tabata workouts, which can last anywhere between four and 30 minutes. They involve a set of four exercises, each performed for 20 seconds with a break of 10 seconds. "High intensity interval training keeps your body in the fat-burning zone. Four minutes of Tabata has been proven to be more beneficial than an hour of cardio," he says.

6 Get an exercise buddy: Working out with a fitness partner can keep you motivated, ensure that you stick to your exercise routine and, also strengthen your love life, if your exercise buddy happens to be your romantic partner. Sexologist Dr Pawan Sonar explains, "Exercise releases feel-good hormones that can boost your sex drive. Working out together also gives you quality time together, boosts your self-confidence and helps you become more aware of your body." A study by Prevention Magazine found that 94 per cent of couples stuck to their workout plan when they exercised together.

2018

Feel better
7 Focus on your merits: "Believing that you are not good at anything and focusing only on your negatives is a recipe for anxiety, frustration and depression. Everyone has something they are good at. It is important to tap into it," says Dr Sapna Bangar, head psychiatrist, Mpower. If you are struggling to find your positives, she recommends asking ten people who are close to you what you are good at. Make a list of these attributes and look at it every morning. This will work wonders for your self-esteem.

8 Define happiness: "For too many people, their definition of happiness comes from their environment and people around them, and not their own selves. This leads to a constant state of unhappiness. This can change if they realise that while other factors can influence their mental state temporarily, they can't govern happiness," says Dr Nahid Dave, psychiatrist, Kohinoor Hospital. It is also important to live in the present, she explains, and stop comparisons with others, or even events or people from your past.

2018

Earn more
9 Aim to be your boss's boss: Narendra Goidani, founder, Life School, believes that being caught up in the rat race can have the unfortunate effect of not thinking long-term about your career. "This can lead to ambiguity about where you are and what you should be aiming at. Every once in a while, it is important to step back and analyse your career track. As a rule of thumb, you should aim to be your boss's boss. Ask yourself what skills you need to achieve these goals, and work on acquiring those," he says.

10 Don't just save; invest: "Grow your income by saving at least 20 per cent of what you earn and investing it. In the stock market, consider sectors such as cement and steel, keeping in view India's impending infrastructure boom. Real estate is a good option - look at upcoming locations around the city, which are due to be connected via road and railway lines. The renewable energy sector is also ripe for investment, as are artificial intelligence and augmented reality," recommends Yogesh Chabria, author of Invest the Happionaire Way.

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