Oh January, you are somewhat a pain in the butt…
Don’t get us wrong, we know you don’t mean to be and that you have good intentions of helping us grasp that ‘fresh new start’ but you also make us feel guilty. And we’re mums. We don’t need any more guilt, thank you very much.
So, what’s our advice about tackling January and making sure that any goals we do have aren’t scuppered by the middle of the month?
Just don’t go in too hard. We love commitment but we also like realism and the idea of being kind to yourself.
Many of us have big plans when a new year chimes and while it’s great to have a vision, it’s helpful to break that down into very small, achievable steps.
At this time of year, there’s an onslaught of messages about diet and body image and even those of us who can usually process those messages and put them into perspective, can be vulnerable to what they’re selling us in January. Add to that having a baby, being sleep deprived, maybe having undulating hormone levels – the temptation to throw ourselves into a regime that promises to change our life, can be strong.
But mums are a busy gang with many pressures and even with the best intentions it can be hard to stick to something that really, just doesn’t fit your lifestyle.
Breaking down your goals for the next few months and focusing on how you feel over how you look could be the way to achieve lasting change.
Set yourself smaller realistic goals -perhaps one for each day and feel amazing when you actually reach them.
Remember to acknowledge how that achievement makes you feel and let that positivity be your driver to achieve the next day’s goal.
It’s absolutely OK to set yourself a small task and achieve it – far better than setting a massive one and never quite getting there.
It’s also a great idea to focus your goals around how the outcome will make you feel. If you are hoping to change your body, this can take time and many of us give up because we don’t see the results we want quick enough – a classic case of setting an unrealistic goal.
But, ticking off tasks that make you feel a certain way can be far more motivating.
For example, if you’re just easing yourself back into a healthier approach to life, be it after the party season or because you’re looking into postnatal fitness, think about laying the ground work for a week or so first.
Your first goal might be to complete a food shop making sure you have a fridge bulging with goodness for the week ahead. This will make you feel prepared and confident that snacking won’t hinder your good intentions.
The next day’s goal might be to nap when your child does and settle in for an early night. Catching up on sleep when you can will help you make good choices and feel more able to make changes.
A third goal could be to get walking. Whether you go with friends or just with the pushchair, set your mind on getting out for a good walk. A fourth to research some fitness classes that genuinely work around you and your needs and be armed with a short list.
If you’ve hit January feeling lethargic, unfit and maybe even a little low – remind yourself that you are doing an amazing job. You are raising a family and all that goes with it. The last thing you need is the pressure of signing up to a grueling fitness challenge, a restrictive diet plan or an approach to healthy living that will make you even more stressed and tired than you perhaps are now.
Take those small steps that will make you feel better, not worse. Get the sleep, learn a new recipe, try a new park, meet an old friend, do just one class for now.
Forget ‘Go hard or go home’ , try ‘Go softly and succeed’.
By Penny Stretton