by Liz Walter
Many of us see the new year as an opportunity to make a fresh start, to give up a bad habit or to take up a good one. Common resolutions (= promises to ourselves) include giving up smoking, doing more exercise, losing weight, or spending more time with our families.
Particularly after Christmas, when many of us have overindulged (= eaten and drunk too much), the idea of a detox (a strict diet designed to get rid of harmful substances from the body) can be quite attractive. However, those with less self-restraint (= ability to control ourselves) don’t need to feel guilty because evidence increasingly shows that such diets have no scientific basis, so all that self-denial (= not allowing yourself to have what you want) is actually a waste of effort.
Many resolutions are worth making, but what is the best way to stick to (= keep doing) them? The main thing is to set realistic goals (= decide on things you can really achieve). You might never run a marathon, but you could probably manage a brisk walk around the park most days. You may not be able to give up sugar completely, but perhaps you could cut down on (= have less of) fizzy drinks.
Psychologists say that each person only has a certain amount of willpower (= the ability to do things you don’t want to do, or not do things you do want to do), so it’s best to make one resolution at a time. If you try to deny yourself (= not allow yourself to have) too many of the things you love, you will never succeed.
There is no doubt that resolutions such as giving up smoking or going on a diet require a good deal of determination (= mental effort). How can we resist (= stop ourselves having) those cream cakes? How can we watch other people smoking without being tempted (= wanting these things) ourselves? If you do give in to temptation (= allow yourself to have what you want) from time to time, it doesn’t mean you are weak-willed (= without self control) – after all, nobody is perfect.
Finally, we all need motivation (= things to encourage us) if we want to achieve something difficult. If we know that our good behaviour will be rewarded (= we will get something for it), we are more likely to stay on the straight and narrow (= do what we should do).
Happy New Year, and the best of luck to anyone making resolutions!