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How NOT to make New Year’s Resolutions!

Quit smoking and drinking, lose 15 kilos, exercise everyday – they seem to be the most popular new year resolutions people make every year. And break them within a few weeks, or sometimes days. Why can’t you keep them? Are your resolutions too ambitious? Are you too weak to stick to them?  Have you ever considered the possibility that you might be setting some very unfair goals to be achieved? So here are just a few resolutions that you might want to take a second look at or steer clear of.

I will not eat junk food ‘anymore’

If there ever was a list of the most common New Year resolutions in anyone’s diary, this would top that list. And it’s a rare percentage of people who are actually successful at sticking to it. And no wonder too. Just walk yourself through a regular day – running late for office so you skip breakfast and decide to grab a vada-pav at the hawker near your office instead; friends at work suggest eating out because the cafeteria food never stops being awful; you again grab some snack on the way back from home because dinner is still a few hours away. It is possible that you carry fruit or a fat-free snack with you at all times so you don’t succumb to junk food but let’s face it – that doesn’t work all the time, does it?

What you can do: Resolve that you won’t eat junk food more than once in two weeks and limit the types of junk food. For instance, bhelpuri or sandwiches are ok but a burger or pizza isn’t. Stay away from aerated drinks and choose lemonade instead. Strictly avoid anything fried, especially in the mornings.

I won’t touch sweets – EVER!

Ah, the unrelenting sweet tooth! Come festive season (which is practically all year round) and it becomes impossible to ignore the lure of all those ghee soaked guilty pleasures. And even if it isn’t a special occasion, the odd piece of chocolate cake you see passing by a bakery or a restaurant is sure to erase all memories of that resolution. So while keeping off sweets is not a very realistic goal there are ways of having your cake and eating it too.

What you can do: Try curbing your sweet intake with a fruit instead of a cupcake. If you are really craving for the real thing, make sure you choose a sugar-free version of it. With people becoming health conscious these days, confectionaries see to it that they have sugar free products as well.

I’ll lose 15 kilos in a month

Alright, so resolving to lose weight or flab is great; what’s not so great is to try to lose too much in too short a time through unhealthy (and sometimes downright dangerous) methods. These would involve crash dieting, skipping meals, too much of heavy lifting in the gym or frequent fasts – an absolute no-no. Want proof? Consult a dietician or a nutritionist. If you plan to start picking up heavy weights in the gym to lose weight take advice from an experienced health instructor if you should really do it. Incorrect methods of exercising can be a big mistake.

What you can do:  Stop looking for quick results! Eat healthy, on time and in right quantities. Exercise whichever way you like but do it regularly and you’ll see the results soon. Don’t stop eating for a week thinking you’ll turn size zero next month – it won’t happen, not in a good way anyway. You’ll only end up harming your body more.

Carbs and fats are off the diet

If you have read enough about losing weight you should also know that fat isn’t all bad. In fact, fats and carbohydrates are two of the most important energy-providing components (the third is proteins). Fats also help the body absorb Vitamins A, D, E and K. What you need to know is the difference between good fats and bad fats. Unsaturated fats, derived mostly from plant sources, help raise levels of HDL (good cholesterol) and are found in olive oil, canola oil and almonds. Saturated fats are mainly obtained from animals in the form of ghee and cheese; they are important because they allow absorption of vitamins but also lead to increased LDL (bad cholesterol) so they are important but in limited quantities. And lastly, trans fats which have no health factor and are found in deep fried snacks and junk foods like French fries.

The same goes for carbs – complex carbs found in whole grain cereals are good because they release sugar into the body gradually unlike simple carbs found in refined sugar and polished rice, which give instant bursts of energy by releasing a large amount of sugar in the bloodstream. This causes the pancreas to work harder to release insulin which acts on the sugar and converts the rest into fat.

What you can do: Mix and match and don’t avoid one type of fat or carb completely because that throws your diet out of cycle. Eat correct proportions of both in your food.

I will not drink

Well, this is an excellent resolution to keep actually. After all, alcohol has empty calories – which means you pack on calories that have no nutritional value whatsoever and it reduces your ability to burn fat for energy. It also affects the liver and causes hypertension. Alcohol has also been associated with psychiatric disorders and brain damage. However in some corporate cultures where meeting clients (especially foreign clients) happens frequently, it could be considered inappropriate to refuse a drink. Your best bet is to stick to a glass of red wine since it does your heart good.

I will completely stop smoking

 If you are a regular or chain smoker and have tried kicking the butt before, you know it’s easier said than done. While it’s good to make a resolution about quitting you also must realize it doesn’t happen in a month.

What you can do: Cut back gradually. Involve your friends to help you out. Make sure you don’t smoke passively. Instead of telling yourself you can kick it anytime and that you don’t need help, enlist the help of a medical professional and find out your options of cutting back.

The final word

Making the effort to give up junk food, sweets and alcohol for good is great if you can do it. In the real world though, for some of us it might be difficult see our resolutions to the end. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make them – instead try to set your goals a little more realistically. Maybe if you can stick to junk food only twice a month for the first six months, who knows? You might be able to give it up completely next year. Add one resolution to that diary for 2013 though – that you’ll find more ways of eating and living healthy!

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