The ‘New Year, New You’ trap

January inevitably brings in the ‘New Year, New You’ trap. 

This approach can work well for some people, but for others, it can lead to feeling like you need to make huge, sweeping changes to make up for the Christmas fun. In fact, it can damage our relationship with food and health and adversely impact our emotional and physical wellbeing. 

As always, your method and your health goals should be bio-individual, meaning it needs to suit you and who you are. What may work for some, may be extremely unhelpful for others. This blog provides detail on this and provides alternative approaches to achieving our health goals in 2024. 

  1. Stress response

The mind-body system is wired for stability and it actively seeks out homeostasis. If we suddenly change both the internal and external environment (as we tend to with the ‘New Year, New You’ mindset), we can jolt the nervous system, triggering the stress response and releasing cortisol into the body. 

This will disrupt our health and may lead to us over relying on willpower, which is certainly not the key to success.

  1. Goals are too general

This mindset tends to create general, rather than specific, goals, but we need to be as specific as possible. Unless we know what the destination is, how can we know how the journey needs to look? 

  1. What do you really want and need?

This mindset can sometimes move us away from what we really want and need. There is so much more to health and wellbeing than just what we eat and how much we exercise. It is a complex picture. This mindset can lead us in the wrong direction, particularly given the amount of misinformation there is out there.

  1. Relationship with food and health

This post-Christmas mindset can often damage our relationship with food and health. You don’t need to ‘make up’ for Christmas indulgences. It can make us resentful of our idea of what ‘health’ looks like and be completely counterproductive.

  1. You’re glorious the way you are! 

Maybe you would like to change a few habits, but you don’t need to create a new you!

So how can we change this approach and set ourselves up for long-term success? 

  1. Set Specific Goals

Specific goals offer direction, motivation and measurable progress. We need to make small, incremental changes that are sustainable, and that won’t trigger the stress response or make us miserable. 

  1. Meet yourself where you are

Be honest about your starting point and what will be achievable for you. For example, going from never having set foot in a gym to a weight-lifter style approach to exercising will be very difficult for you to achieve! Ease yourself in gradually. 

Equally, suddenly reducing calories and/or cutting out entire food groups will be extremely unsustainable for you and will likely trigger the stress response. You will be setting yourself up for failure.

  1. Add in, don’t take away

Change the mindset of cutting out to adding in. This will support the mind-body system in making sustainable changes and will make it easier to change certain habits. For example, if your aim is to reduce or cut out sugar, we can adopt an approach called ‘crowding out’ which involves regulating our appetite to reduce the need for sugar. Remember, health is abundance, not restriction.

  1. Look beyond food and exercise

Consider other aspects of your life, such as sleep, socialising, career, home environment, your levels of creativity and anything else. These are called ‘primary foods’ and are more likely to impact your habits and behaviours than anything else. Again, making small changes to these aspects and adding more of them in is a great approach to health and wellbeing.

  1. Focus on your emotional wellbeing

You cannot be physically well unless you are emotionally well, and vice versa. Learning to recognise and deal with our emotions is vital. As a health and emotional wellbeing coach, I can absolutely help you with this!

So, unless you find it a helpful approach, ditch the ‘New year, New you’ mindset. You’re likely just setting yourself up for failure. 

I can help you to find a new and sustainable approach to improving your emotional and physical health so please reach out and we can have a chat, even if it’s just narrowing down your goals. Head on over to my ‘work with me’ page to find out more.

Your trusty Health and Wellbeing Coach, Sarah!!