New Year New StartWhile I love the idea of a new year new start, I can't help but think that January is the worst time of the year to be making huge life changes. Many of us have had a lovely break from work, have been very relaxed about diet for a number of weeks and have enjoyed some late nights and perhaps a few parties. Even people who are fairly active will tend to reduce their trips to the gym as Christmas approaches. So what a shock to the system to deny yourself all the food and drink and to start exercising all of a sudden?

If I can offer one piece of advice about resolutions it would be -  do not start them until a few weeks into January. Spend this first week reflecting on 2016. Then think about some achievable goals for the New Year. If exercise or weight loss is one of the things you want to achieve, think about how to make new routines in your life to help with this. Like committing to cooking from scratch once or twice a week or walking to something you currently drive to. Make a weekly arrangement to go somewhere with a friend or even join a club of some sort? Sometimes filling up your spare time with new activities and new friends can in itself be the lifestyle change that over time, results in a healthier you.

Equally, if exercise is something you want to start, don't start running all of a sudden. I'm a regular runner and no matter how fit I am (and with apologies to people who enjoy running...if there are any?), it's torture....especially at this time of year with cold and wind and rain. It's a great way to put yourself off exercising after just a couple of outings! Instead, look for something you can do with others. I've found group circuit classes a great way to build strength and fitness but it's also a lovely social thing to do and making friends in the activity will mean you will be more likely to keep going. Another great way to get an exercise habit established is to think about what you enjoyed doing when you were younger and resume it as an adult. Mostly, you will be good at the activity already and the bonus is that it will make you feel young again. I've a friend who has had great success returning to tennis after a 20 year break. She's making new friends and getting fitter - a win/win!

Personally, I'm a fan of experiences - like  going to a music or comedy gig every month or taking a first aid course or even learning how to swim properly or taking the advanced driving course and test.  Whatever you do though, spread them out over the course of the year - don't try to do everything in January...the coldest most miserable month of the year!

So light a Bog Standard candle, dig out a notebook and think about where you want to be in December 2017. Work backwards, month by month, including something each month to help you on your way. But as for January - don't beat yourself up. It's a month to plan the changes for the rest of the year. And finish off the chocolate.....