New year's resolutions - we all make them, but few of us stick to them!

One of the most popular resolutions is a commitment to improved health and fitness. But once we get back to work and are faced with the challenges of everyday life, it’s easy to let exercise and health goals slip by the wayside.

“Often people have the best of intentions when making new year's resolutions but then struggle with achieving them when the reality of normal day to day pressures kick in following the holiday period,” says EML Risk Management Specialist Christie Solway.

“Any goal needs to have plan. As the saying goes: If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

“You therefore need to plan how you’re going to achieve your goal. For example, do you need to set aside time to go to the gym, do you need to need to research healthy eating and put together a meal plan, do you need to enlist professional help, or do you need to organise your finances to ensure you have sufficient cash to achieve what you have chosen?”

The trick to achieving your new year’s goals, says Ms Solway, is to be clear on why you have set a certain goal.

“The ‘why’ is what will drive you when it gets tough to stick to your plans. But make sure you’re choosing something for you – not for someone else.

“Something that is important to you is far easier to achieve than something that is important to someone else.”

Unfortunately, lack of time due to a busy schedule or fatigue can lead to people taking shortcuts.

“Whilst always maintaining the gold standard is ideal, work out next best solutions so you have a plan when life makes the gold standard unachievable.”

For example, consider the healthiest meal options or simplest exercises for when you are travelling in advance, or contemplate the next best lunch solution for those days you don’t get around to packing your healthiest option to take with you.

 

Beat the barriers

“Managing to exercise within a busy workday can be challenging,” says Ms Solway.

“I’ve found that those who tend to stick to an exercise regime are the ones who build it in to their day and make it part of their usual routine.”

Consider in advance what structure works best for you to ensure you’re still able to meet your other commitments with your commitment, therefore improving both your physical and mental health.

“It could be getting up earlier in the morning to exercise before work or scheduling yourself to attend lunch time exercise activities.”

A great way to remain accountable is to take on an exercise regime that incorporates a social element.  Incidental exercise is also a good way to ensure you remain active on a daily basis.

“If you catch the bus or train to work, try getting off one stop earlier and walk the extra distance to build some physical activity into your daily routine,” says Ms Solway.

“Take the stairs at every opportunity rather than ramps, escalators or lifts.

“If you have kids, build in some time to participate physical activity with them – whether that be going for a bike ride, jumping on the trampoline, helping out at sporting events, or joining in with their water fights or nerf gun wars.”

 

What about food?

These days, awareness of the importance of healthy eating is high, and access to healthy foods is therefore a little easier - and less time consuming, as you don’t always have to prepare food from scratch.

“Supermarkets have plenty of pre-prepared healthy options such as pre-cut meat ready to cook, vegetables ready for steaming or adding to stir-fries, ranges of delicious salads.

“These can take about the same amount of time to throw together as the time waiting in drive-thru or sitting at the fish and chip shop while your order is being saturated with oil.”

Due to the increase in awareness of the importance of healthy living, many companies now have wellbeing programs in place for their staff.

The range of services available can be diverse, including features such as massages, skin checks, eye examinations, financial advice, lunch-time fitness classes, reimbursements for fitness gear and gym memberships, provision of fresh fruit boxes, to name just a few.

“There is a wealth of research and case studies on the benefits of health and wellbeing programs,” says Ms Solway.

“These indicate that effective implementation of health and wellbeing programs results in cost savings for employers in terms of reductions in sick leave and absenteeism.

“Whilst a lot of wellbeing programs have a tendency to focus on physical health, implementing programs to create mentally healthy workplaces results in a saving of $2.30 for every dollar spent on the program*.”

Of course, there is no one size fits all when it comes to the health and wellbeing of employees.

So as the new year approaches, remember to write down your goals, start small and commit to the healthy start to 2018 that you promised yourself - and with a bit of planning and dedication, you’ll be able to continue on the same path for the year’s duration.

 

*Creating a mentally healthy workplace - Return on investment analysis