A New Years’ Resolution You Can Actually Keep

Tuesday, December 30th, 2014

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 Setting healthy goals for 2015

2015 is about to kick off, and no doubt the subject of new years’ resolutions has cropped up in your recent conversations. You’re probably on holiday, relaxing away from the stresses of everyday life, and have had a chance to reflect on the past year’s achievements, and your goals for 2015.

Perhaps you’re planning on improving your life by losing weight next year, or running a marathon, or spending more time with loved ones. You may be looking to extend yourself more by learning something new, getting that dream job or having the will to quit smoking.

The problem with high hopes

While this is all very admirable, studies show that only 8% of people are successful in achieving their resolutions. While about 75% of people stick to their goals for at least a week, less than half maintain those resolutions six months down the line.

This tells us that perhaps the goals we set for ourselves are a little optimistic, buoyed by our holiday euphoria. Setting more realistic goals may be the answer, and lead to less disappointment and in the long run; a more slow and steady method of achieving our successes.

Health and lifestyle goals are the most popular, and hardest to achieve

Studies show that the most popular New Year’s resolutions are those health and lifestyle goals. “Lose weight”, “get fit”, “stress less” and “eat healthier” are all commonly listed items in this regard. With this, resolutions around alcohol-related habits such as “drink less” are also commonly listed. This should come as no surprise considering that at time of making resolutions we’re generally enjoying the excesses of being on holiday. Setting polarized goals is a natural reaction. By the time we’re through with our holiday we’ve generally fallen out of healthy routines in favour of much-needed rest and relaxation. And while it’s important to make healthy choices, it’s also important to be realistic in our expectations and goal setting.

So when you’re reclining by the pool thinking about next year, try not to be too ambitious in your health and lifestyle related goals. As with many things, moderation is key. It’s all about getting to your goals, but in a reasonable manner. Trying to do too much at once will only discourage, or worse still, add more stress.

Healthy habits around alcohol don’t need to be difficult

In a recent report , Isla Whitcroft, a health journalist, uncovered some good news about the health benefits of beer. “Beer, when drunk in moderation is one of the healthiest alcoholic drinks around, known down the ages as ‘liquid bread’.” She noted the nutritional content of beer.

Key to enjoying a beer in a healthy way is moderation. Whitcroft noted that in almost all instances the research she referenced showed a correlation between benefits and a safe amount of alcohol. “That is, if you drink within sensible drinking guidelines, then you reap the rewards of all that beer contains, ” she explains.

Whitcroft goes further to explain the nutritional content of beer. “Beer contains vitamins which can help you to maintain a well-balanced healthy diet, fibre to keep you regular, readily absorbed antioxidants which may protect you against heart disease and some cancers; and minerals such as silicon which may lower your risk of osteoporosis. It is low in sodium (salt) and high in potassium, a mineral that helps to control the balance of fluids in the body and possibly contribute to controlling blood pressure.”

Ashleigh Caradasholds, a Johannesburg based nutritionist and dietician, says that the research shows that people who consume alcohol moderately live longer than those who don’t drink alcohol at all. In a recent article she highlights some of the useful ways in which beer can enhance health, from being high in certain vitamins and minerals, to its use as a carcinogen-reducing marinade.

She also maintains that that alcohol is a double-edged sword – with moderation and responsibility being the key to a healthy balance. And what is moderation? “It means no more than two to three 340ml cans of beer per day for men and no more than one to two for women, ” she says.

While studies on beer and its health benefits are relatively recent, beer has been enjoyed by people in a sociable way for thousands of years. From ancient times beer brought people together in a communal spirit, for social occasions and celebrations. It’s the natural choice for the moderate and responsible drinker and can fit quite comfortably into a healthy, balanced lifestyle*.

Ready to start 2015 with a bang?

While you may be naturally inclined to make sweeping resolutions and ambitious goals while still starry-eyed on your holiday remember that when it comes to your health and welfare, moderate and realistic goals will go a long way to achieving long term health and lifestyle benefits. Start your year with a bang, but not a hangover.

So with your healthy intentions for the year ahead, here’s to a fantastic 2015. What are some of your goals for the year ahead? Share them in the comments below.

Cheers!

* Caradas advises that if you have hypertension or any pre-existing heart condition, always consult your physician about your drinking habits, especially if you tend to drink in excess.

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