1. Have a plan

First clarify exactly what it is you want to achieve. Don’t limit yourself by only considering what is feasible. You are more likely to list negative, limited goals. Your end goals should be your inspiration – your vision of the perfect you.

2. Write your mission statement

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This is what you need to get you to your vision. Your statement for a weight loss vision might read something like ‘To do this, I must ensure that I make time every evening to prepare a good breakfast and healthy packed lunch so I am not tempted to snack during the day. I will also make exercise a priority.’ And so on. Go ahead, pin it up where you can see it.

healthy new year_23. Set some goals

Be crystal clear so you know you are making progress. Your goals should be realistic, practically possible, timebound (you must have a date for completion otherwise it’s just a wish) and exciting, which is really important for continued motivation.

4. Get some support

By telling others about your intentions, you are making a public statement and are much more likely to follow it through.

healthy new year_35. Start small

Rome wasn’t built in a day. If you are changing your diet, consider every small change a step in the right direction. A good starting point is to ensure that you try to eat a little protein at every meal and snack, or cutting out refined sugar.

6. Get snacking

Being ‘healthy’ doesn’t have to mean depriving yourself. Eating a small protein-based snack between meals will keep your energy levels constant. You will need to plan your snacks ahead to make sure you always have something nutritious to hand.

7. Try something new each week

Whether it’s eating a new vegetable, trying a new dish or a different exercise class, mixing the new with the old can add the excitement factor, and you can have fun and make some new friends, too.

8. Make time for exercise

Exercise is critical to your overall health and wellbeing (both physically and mentally). Make a timetable of your week and plot out where you can squeeze in at least three classes, gym visits or other exercise sessions.  There is always space in the diary for something you really need to do, and you DO need to exercise.

9. Be aware of barriers

Establish the things that might be holding you back. This might be lack of preparation, lifestyle habits (like rewarding yourself with food or drink) or practical barriers like not having enough time for exercise. Recognise the problem and find a way to break through.

healthy new year_510. Rethink your rewards

Everyone needs a little pat on the back to celebrate their efforts but we have got used to rewarding ourselves with (often) the wrong kinds of foods. Try to think of at least 10 non-food rewards. Make time for a long soak in the bath, 5 minutes relaxing in the sunshine (hard to imagine on a cold January day!), going for a gentle walk, phoning a friend, and so on. Try to add to the list as the year goes on.

11. Go shopping

Start a healthy New Year with an investment in a gym or exercise outfit you feel great in to ensure you (re)commit to a healthy lifestyle. Consider renewing a lapsed gym membership or treating yourself to a few new songs for your exercise playlist.

12. Sleep

A good night’s sleep is one of the biggest and easiest ways to boost your physical and emotional health. If you don’t get enough sleep you may not be able to concentrate properly, become irritable and have decreased motivation – bad news for any diet plan. You’ll need at least seven hours a night.

healthy new year_413. Get writing

Journaling (code for writing down all your thoughts and concerns) is a private record just for you. It can help highlight things in your life that you are unhappy with or need to work on.

Alternatively, keep a gratitude journal. Write down five things every evening that you are grateful for. It can be small things like being grateful for a warm spring day, that you have some great friends who are there for you. The more you start looking for the joy in your life, the more joy you will find

14. Don’t fear failing

If things don’t go so well for you and your healthy intentions one day, don’t sweat it. Try to keep to your healthy plan at least 80% of the time. If you have a ‘bad’ day, remember that every new day is a second chance.

15. Get some professional help

You’re much more likely to stick to those good intentions you made if you have someone to keep you accountable. If bad food habits are your downfall, work with a nutritionist or health coach to keep motivated.

If trips to the gym get replaced by trips to the coffee shop, consider a personal trainer to ensure you stay on track.

Connect with Expert Ailsa Hichens.

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