January is the time for new starts and resolutions. Of course things are going to be different this year! Of course you are going to get bad habits under control! This year will see you going to the gym daily, dropping 10 kilograms and eating clean. But weren't they the same goals you tried and failed to achieve last year?
I spent 12 years researching various wellness products for my book Wellmania. Detoxes can work, but they are a short-term fix, likewise six or 12-week exercise programs that promise to change your body forever.
When picking a resolution – the best ones are those new habits that can integrate easily into your life, are low cost and can become new habits over time.
Here are the ones that have worked for me.
Give your body a break from alcohol
The Australian party season now stretches from Melbourne Cup Day to Australia Day – that's a mammoth three months of feasting, drinking, indulging and partying. Chances are if you've been saying yes to all the invitations coming your way – right about now, you're feeling like an overflowing rubbish bin.
I knew that feeling was coming. I've had years of limping towards the end of January looking and feeling like something the cat dragged in.
So late last year I took pre-emptive action. On December 17 I started conscious drinking – that is one or two a couple of times a week, but slowing it right down and not getting too carried away by the party atmosphere and constant refills.
Then, on New Years Day I stopped completely for 100 days to give my body a hard reset from the party season.
It going well, so far. I'm sleeping better, my skin looks great and I'm saving money. It's a resolution that can be tough to implement but ultimately your body will thank you for it.
Give meditation a go
Off all the things I trialled for Wellmania, meditation was the thing that made the biggest difference. After trial and error with a number of different styles, I practised Vedic meditation, for 20 minutes, twice a day.
Sometimes it was hard to fit the second one in (usually around 4pm), but in the morning, I just set my alarm a bit earlier and meditated before I checked social media or had a coffee. Even if you travel a lot or have a crazy schedule, meditation is portable – and free – which meant it was a habit that lasted a lot longer than other things, because I could do it anywhere and could do it when I was broke.
The benefits of meditation have been well covered (less stress, less likely to be reactive, a sense of tranquility and calm) – and there are now enough meditation schools, apps, YouTube tutorials and meet up groups to find a teacher and method that works for you.
Rory Kinsella, who teaches Vedic meditation in Bondi Junction told me, "Resolutions are about how we can upgrade our lives from the previous year. We want to get healthier and happier and drop bad habits and be more productive. Meditation for me tackles a lot of these in one go. Just by making one change in yourself and removing the stress and fatigue – you can just naturally create more fulfilling and resourceful ways of dealing with your life. I see meditation as one resolution to rule them all. It's the only resolution you need to make."
Try a new form of exercise to change it up
Legendary NBA basketballer LeBron James told the Business Insider podcast that he gets up at 5am to exercise, and outside basketball, he exercises five times a week. What is interesting is the sort of exercise he does.
"My workout regimen is pretty much five times a week, every day. And it varies. Sometimes I stay at home and work out. Sometimes I'll go to an actual class. I've been to, like, VersaClimber classes, or spinning classes. I do pilates as well. So, it kind of varies depending on how I'm feeling."
By doing different forms of exercise, he's using different muscle groups and different parts of his brain. He's also less likely to get bored.
So many gym memberships taken up with gusto in January, becoming neglected by February because we become busy, but we also become bored.
Doing something different each day – whether it's a walk or a class or yoga online at home or a work out with a trainer, is likely to keep you more engaged for longer.
So don't commit to an exercise regime this year, commit to simply moving and trying new things.
Commit to a morning regime
Set yourself up for a healthy, productive and focused day by establishing and sticking to a morning routine.
This might include getting up at the same time every day, exercising or meditating first thing and preparing breakfast.
Try not to check email or social media as soon as you wake up. It can make for a stressful start if you get an angry email overnight or on social. Instead – if you are up at 6am, try not to look at the internet until 8am. Give yourself a good two hours after waking before your head gets engaged in the business of the day. Rushing to work, not eating breakfast and being overwhelmed by email first thing, means you spend the day playing catch up.
Planning and sticking to a morning routine sets the tone for the whole day.
Wellmania by Brigid Delaney is published by Black Inc.