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New year new you

Are you looking to be more healthy in the New Year? Registered nutritional therapist Michaella Mazzoni offers some tips for making healthy and sustainable changes

With 2020 behind us, many people will be thinking about their New Year’s resolutions and how they want to improve their health. More often than not, our goals include the way that we eat and other areas of our health like alcohol consumption, lifestyle changes and weight.

In my experience, a big part of why many people don’t do well sustaining changes long-term is because the changes they made are too drastic, too restrictive or a combination of both. In terms of weight loss I often say to my clients the quicker you lose it, the quicker it will come back. The key is sustainability and making realistic changes that can form a lifestyle rather than a strict diet.

Define your “why”

Whenever I’m working with someone new I always ask them, “What is your goal?” and then ask them, “Why is that your goal?” For example, you may feel that you want to lose weight, but why? Is it because you want to spend more time with your family? Are you thinking about fertility? Are you thinking about your family history and want to do what you can to prevent the development of conditions like Type II diabetes? Or perhaps you’d like to get back to a place where you feel more self-confident. Whatever your reason for wanting to lose weight, I find that remembering the reason “why” is motivating and helps to keep people going.

Set a timeline

If I were to tell you that you could never eat sugar again it is unlikely that you would be able to successfully cut it out without ultimately bingeing. It is just human nature; placing a finite “no” on something makes it really hard not to want it.

So, my advice is to set a timeline. You might decide that for two weeks you’re going to cut out refined sugar and see how you feel. At the end of that two weeks you can then assess how it’s impacted you. Have you noticed any change in your skin, your sleep or your focus? How you feel will help you to make further changes or sustain the changes you’ve already made. These changes do not have to be permanent; once we get to our goal we can then reassess.

Build up your exercise

Throwing yourself into a heavy exercise routine, especially if you haven’t regularly exercised in the previous year, is likely to end up in injuries or you may burn out having done too much too soon. Instead, slowly build up towards 30 minutes every day or an hour every other day of exercise. Experiment with a mixture of high-impact exercise like cardio dance classes, spinning, running and low-impact activities like Pilates, swimming, yoga and walking. Ideally it’s great to be doing two or three different exercises within your overall regime but really it’s about whatever exercise you like the most. When you are enjoying the exercise then that’s what you’re going to be able to do long-term.

Identify roadblocks

Carve out some time to sit down and really think about previous occasions when you’ve tried to make New Year’s resolutions that maybe you weren’t able to stick to. What was it that made it difficult? If you find that you often eat when you’re feeling emotional or stressed out, instead of thinking about a restricted diet, think about ways in which you can improve your response to stress or dealing with emotional issues which may be holding you back from achieving your health goals.

Other roadblocks may include having the types of food that you’re trying to avoid in the house. Doing your grocery shopping online or organising a click-and-collect shop will help you to avoid impulse shopping and buying things like sweets and chocolate that you may be trying to avoid during the January period.

Beware of quick fixes

Anything that promises to help you lose more than 2 lbs of weight per week is not going to be healthy. When we lose large amounts of weight in a short period of time it adds stress to our liver, kidneys and digestive system. It is much healthier and more sustainable in the long term to lose 0.5 to 2 lbs of weight per week. Although this may feel slow, it is much more sustainable and you will be more likely to maintain the weight loss.

Make a plan

Make a plan and stick to it. There are many free online resources for blank meal plans which you can fill in yourself. Remember to include things that you love, like chocolate for example, so that you don’t feel too deprived during the week.

Eat smart

Working towards new health goals doesn’t just include cutting out foods, it also means thinking about the way that you eat. Mindful eating, like taking three deep breaths before you start a new meal, helps to prepare the digestive system to do its job. Try to eat protein and fat at each meal or snack, for example a handful of nuts with dark chocolate or nut butter with an apple. This will help to keep you fuller for longer and maintain a healthier blood sugar balance.

The “most of the time” approach

Nobody is perfect. If you put too much pressure on yourself to stick to a strict diet 100 per cent of the time, this is a difficult approach to be sustained in the long-term. My rule of thumb is that the body cares about what’s happening most of the time – not 10 per cent of the time. So, if you are following a healthy meal plan most of the time, you could consider enjoying something else like dark chocolate or pizza for 10 per cent of the time. If you can find ways to stick to your changes in the long term, this will help you to form and sustain a healthy lifestyle.

Michaella Mazzoni, Registered NT, DipCNM mBANT CNHC reg, offers private nutrition consultations as well as video consultations to help support all areas of health. To book an appointment, email Michaella at or call 07786 841 333.

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