I’m a sucker for a New Year’s resolutions list.
I make one every year, and stick to none of the things that are on it, but I’ll still be back for more as soon as January rolls round again!
This year, though, I’m weighing up my options. The first month of a new year is a great time to go ‘cold turkey’ and cut out those unhealthy habits, but is it really the best way to make a lasting lifestyle change?
Over the last few months I’ve experienced first-hand the benefits of balancing diet and exercise with a little overindulgence now and then. Knowing I’ve allowed myself a pyjama day and a pizza treat at the weekend makes it so much easier to stick to healthy eating and an exercise routine during the week! So should I really be considering a blanket ban on things like sugar and alcohol in the New Year?
I’ve read a good number of articles which criticise the idea of the traditional January detox. Some experts seem to think it’s an ineffective way to help your body recover from the effects of too much festive food and drink long-term – going cold turkey may cleanse your system, but does it curb the cravings for good? Then there are others who reckon it’s a good idea – if it takes four weeks to break a habit then surely a month off those little overindulgences should do us some long-term favours?
When there are so many mixed messages on the table, I think I prefer to go by personal experience. I know already that I feel better physically and mentally when I lead a healthy lifestyle, but I’ve found it hard to stick to without the promise of something indulgent at the end of it all.
Last year, I took part in dry January and didn’t drink alcohol for 31 days. Did it stop me picking up a glass of pinot grigio in February? Sadly, no, but that’s not to say that the way it made me feel fitter and fresher doesn’t outweigh that February lapse.
I also have a friend who’s recently been blogging about giving up sugar. After a few weeks, in one of her posts she mentions trying a slice of cake and not really enjoying it that much. There’s lots of anecdotal evidence that shows people who’ve cut out sugar completely find their tastebuds eventually change and they don’t want it at all any more. Maybe it’s true that taking time off can help you break an unhealthy habit?
So, perhaps I will keep ‘going cold turkey’ on the New Year’s resolutions list this year. It might be fun to see if it makes a difference on my mood and my fitness. And who knows? It might finally be the resolution that lasts!
Are you thinking of going cold turkey this New Year? Or, have you quit things like sugar in the past? How did it make you feel, and would you recommend it?