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A Fresh Palette of Ideas – Sue Potgieter

January 2018….a New Year…and lots of new goals and resolutions! If you’re like me, they are made with full intentions of fulfilling them, but somehow all they seem to succeed in doing is remind me that I have no will power whatsoever!!! And yet is that true? No! If I set myself goals I usually complete them.

What is it then about New Year’s resolutions that cause me to fail miserably year after year?

Studies show that there is only an 8% success rate with New Year resolutions. They come hot on the tail of over indulgence at Christmas…too much alcohol, chocolate, desserts, crisps, cream etc. Our clothes may be feeling a little tight and we are bombarded with magazines and newspapers offering us a ‘lose Xlbs in X days diet’ or a ‘time to detox diet’ or ‘give up alcohol for a month’ plan!!

Clever advertising plays on our guilt and before we know it we have signed up for that amazing gym contract or bought that book, DVD, piece of exercise equipment that you and I both know will most likely be languishing in a corner within a couple of months!

I want to suggest that this coming year you and I buck the trend and make NO New Year resolutions! Instead we make Spring resolutions: when the weather is changing, days are getting longer, new life is in the air and there is a sense of hope once again. Animals hibernate and put on fat over the winter for a reason, trees lose their leaves in order to conserve energy ready for the big Spring push but what do we do? We starve ourselves from January 1st and what we are actually doing is setting ourselves up for failure. Meta analyses consistently show that dieting actually causes us to gain weight and that completion rates of diets are less than 70%. Between January and March set  yourself up for success with that Spring detox by considering a fresh palette of ideas below.

I want to suggest a new strategy for success in your life: whether it’s losing weight, getting fit, learning a new skill or anything else that is on your to do list for 2018. A very successful strategy that I discovered recently is that of starting mini habits. These are, according to Stephen Guise, ‘stupidly small steps’ that lead ultimately to success. Lao Tzao once said that ‘the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step’.

As a registered Nutritional Therapist and Naturopath I always encourage clients to add in healthy foods first and not just remove unhealthy foods. Why? As you add in the healthy choices they will eventually shift your desire away from the unhealthy ones. Your taste buds change and you become aware of how differently you feel after eating certain types of food.

How does this equate with ‘mini habits’? Why not add one portion of vegetables or fruit into your day? If you do that consistently, you are already healthier. If one portion is too much, go smaller. One broccoli floret or one carrot for example. The sense of achievement from doing it on a consistent basis will give you such confidence and of course you can always add in bonus portions which will make you feel amazing! On the days that you can seriously only manage the one broccoli floret, at least you won’t have failed!

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

1. Do one bicep curl a day or one lunge (easier than going to the gym)
2. Drink one small glass of water (easier than eight glasses a day)
3. Eat one broccoli floret or one carrot (better than no vegetables a day)
4. Read one page in a book (at least you’ve started it)
5. Write 50 words a day (there’s a novel in there somewhere!)
6. File one piece of paper (this is my first mini habit!)

The point of mini habits is that they are totally achievable and therefore you will not fail but succeed each and every day. Most days you will do more than the bare minimum because you can, but on the days that you can’t, at least do that ‘stupidly small’ thing and become a winner! It’s a WIN WIN situation. I am already dreaming of what I will have achieved by this time next year! Will you join me?

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