You know it. New Year resolutions are usually doomed to failure. One or two weeks in, most of us give up, feeling guilty at best or lousy about ourselves at worst. Despite the fact we are told, again and again, that resolutions don’t work. But actually they can and do, if you apply some simple rules based on good ol’ common sense. Here’s a few (and a contest if you are into French cookbooks) to help.
1. Adopt one lifestyle change, not a whole bunch of them. Resolve to eat more vegetables, to make your weekly lunches instead of eating out, or to train twice a week. Try to change all at the same time and you’ll hit a wall two weeks in, I can guarantee it.
2. You know what fails you everytime, from lack of time, restaurant blowouts or a pantry full of junk snacks? Identify and deal with your failure buttons before you start your new resolution. Cook on weekends, do your lunches, buy healthy snacks you actually like, in other words plug those weak spots in advance.
3. Work by increments and reward yourself at every step. For example, tell yourself “I will eat more vegetables for lunch or dinner” for the next 3 weeks. Once you’ve crossed the finish line, move on to “I will add a fruit at breatkfast every morning”. Three weeks are a lot easier to manage than 3 months. Once you’ve reached your target, reward yourself with something you’ve always wanted. Something that’s not food, need I point out.
4. Allow yourself a few slips. It is virtually IMPOSSIBLE to be good all the time. There are days when the siren song of baklava proves irresistible. When your favourite “decadent” food beckons, give in eating reasonable quantities, from time to time. Above all, try to learn from your food obsessions: Why did you feel the need to binge? Were you sad, stressed out, tired of über controlling yourself? We often treat resolutions as make-or-break, which is SO counterproductive. Bottom line, there’s only one good reason to eat that baklava: pleasure pure and simple!
5. Give yourself the right to change a plan that’s not working for you. You’re not a morning fruit person? Keep it for those late-night munchies in front of the TV. You don’t like to cook a food storm every weekend? Resolve to drink one litre of water a day. You hate to train? Walk the dog 10 minutes longer instead. In other words, adapt your resolution to your capabilities as you go.
> As far as resolutions are concerned, time is actually on your side. Each day you hold on increases your chances of success. According to experts, it takes 21 days to acquire a good habit and 6 months to make it a permanent lifestyle change. Conversely, we all act as if it takes one slip to undo it all. Go figure. <
Most people who try to eat healthy or lose weight will tell you that keeping a food diary is a winning idea. Why? Because you can read back and become more aware of your daily food choices. You can also add how you were feeling that day and draw parallels. Personally, I’m a bit of technology nerd. So when I want to follow my eating patterns, I like My Fitness Pal, which is both a website and free app that are synchronized. You can follow your calorie intake, exercise schedule, etc., in a way that closely mimics the pay-for Weight Watchers online manager. If you live in Québec, several local foods are even included, like the St-Hubert menu. Pretty cool.
And you, what is your New Year resolution? Have you made one or don’t believe in them at all? Comment below before January 20, 2014 and, if you read French, you could win my book 100 recettes pour toi mon cœur, a heart healthy cookbook I wrote for the Montreal Heart Institute Foundation two years ago, with the help of top Québec chefs: Giovanni Apollo, Sébastien Harrisson Cloutier, Anne et Emmanuel Desjardins, Jérôme Ferrer, Mélanie Gagnon, Patrick Gérôme, Michael Makhan, Jean-Baptiste Marchand, Ian Perreault and Danny St Pierre.
On the menu, light recipes that are nutritionist-approved, so you can cook and eat with peace of mind. Here are few pix from the book that should reassure you about the appetite appeal of healthy food, lol.Bon appétit et bonne année!