Out with the old you! Out, I say! Make way, make way…and let’s usher in a lighter, shinier, slimmer, fresher, healthier and all-round more desirable version of you! After all, it’s January: the allotted time for New Year/New You! (Have you ever noticed how many exclamation marks there are on magazine front covers?).
If we examine this rationally, it’s just bonkers really. I mean, how crazy is it that on 31st December you’re one person and on 1st January you’re supposed to reinvent yourself as someone dramatically different? Is it any wonder that, sooner or later (and all the research points to sooner), we rebel against this new constraint and revert back to where we were?
It’s not as if the New Year/New You shtick even fits in with any sort of natural rhythm such as the start of spring. It’s just an arbitrary date in the middle of cold, dark winter. One that has somehow morphed into a designated, compulsory date for us to suddenly bounce forth reborn, with an entirely new set of instantly acquired habits. Hmmm. Not exactly likely, is it?
Having worked with the media for over 20 years as a PR consultant, I’ve seen this particular phenomenon escalate to the widespread hysteria it is today. Wall-to-wall coverage of a dizzying array of diets, workouts, spas, healthy recipes, fitness gear, special healthy newspaper supplements, inserts, TV programmes galore. And if you did decide to try a new programme, which would it be – given that many of the newspapers are serialising several diets concurrently? Frankly, it’s enough to induce a meltdown and have you running for the comfort of the biscuit tin.
Right, let’s stop for a second and strip it back to a couple of home truths.
1. There is nothing wrong with the “old you”.
2. It is neither necessary nor advisable to obliterate your old self, habits etc. etc. and sign up to be a completely different person just because magazine front covers tell you to.
And something to consider:
1. Have you gone down this route in previous Januarys?
2. Did it work?
3. If it didn’t work, rather than relaunching yourself on the same path that takes you inexorably to disappointment and self-recrimination, ask yourself: what can I learn from it not working?
The big, often overlooked question to ponder is: what was my motivation behind signing myself up for these diets/regimes? What is my motivation now?
Are you hurling yourself with gritted teeth into a new year’s diet because you should/ought to/must do it? If so, it’s pretty much destined to be short-lived. On the other hand, motivation that comes from a place of self-love is much more likely to stick. For example: “I choose to allow myself eight hours sleep a night so that I feel energised, focused and even-tempered.” How much nicer is that language, don’t you think?
It’s far, far more important to gradually build self-efficacy than it is to put yourself through a month of strictly adhering to this or that diet and then segue back into previous unhealthy eating for the rest of the year.
By self-efficacy, I mean taking small steps – even if they’re baby ones. I mean building your confidence by incorporating these into your life as long-term habits. I mean happily sticking with those habits without someone looming over you and “making” you do them.
And, when you do opt for a blow-out, self-efficacy gets you gently but firmly back on the right road rather than falling prey to the pernicious “All or Nothing” syndrome. As well we know, All or Nothing is whereby you’ve eaten a slice of cake, therefore have failed and are rubbish, therefore might as well eat the whole damn cake because the diet’s now completely ruined. Ruined! RUINED!!!
If you’d like to make this the year that you finally beat your demons and reclaim your health, your balance and your happiness, then drop me a line and book yourself in for a complimentary discovery session.
To quote Lao Tzu: “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”