5 questions you should ask before trying to make a ‘new you.’

Do you ever get the sneaking suspicion that ‘new year, new you’ is just one big marketing ploy?  An annual ruse, designed to make us spend money in the period when we might otherwise be inclined to spend less?

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If however you’ve emerged from your hibernaculum, peeled off your pyjamas and have the Netflix whirlygig imprinted on your retina, you may be feeling like making some changes.   But before you hand your debit card over to anyone offering to make you fit/healthy/clean/detoxed, consider these few questions first:

Is there anything wrong with the old you?

It’s perfectly normal to feel sluggish after a few days of over eating, lunchtime sherry and general inactivity.  If you feel 20151231_203225.jpgthe need to get fit / stop drinking / eat less, then go for it!  But is there more to it than that? People trying to sell you things are really clever at making you believe you have a problem. Once they’ve done that, they can sell you more stuff.  Think about glossy magazines.  Their survival depends on advertising revenue. Whose best interests have they got at heart?

Christmas can be a stressful time.  All that money!  All those relatives!  Sometimes we’re led to believe that the way to beat stress is to buy more stuff.  Apps, books, food, posh bubble bath. You may well be feeling wrung-out after Christmas, but before you buy anything take a look at this brilliant article by SaraKnight. (Warning: mostly consists of the ‘f’ word.)

I’m guessing that the existing you is just fine.

How much will it cost?

A ‘new you’ doesn’t need to cost anything.  But, here are a few things you might be tempted to buy:

  • Posh juicer: £80
  • Gym membership: varies, around £75
  • Mindfulness app: £60 for the year
  • Diet/self-help book: £15
  • Running shoes: depending on quality £50-100+
  • Chia seeds: £5
  • Detox tea: £10
  • Detox bath oil: £21

Alternatively, the NHS weight loss plan is free, a brisk walk is free, there is plenty of evidence based self-help on websites such as NHS Choices (it’s snazzier than you might think!)  Fruit and veg are cheap, plentiful and healthy without being juiced (and all that mess!)  No amount of bath oil is going to detox you, and a glass of tap water will be just as beneficial as ‘draining’ tea.  the only thing it will be draining is your bank account.

Who is giving me advice?

Is the person giving you advice also trying to sell you something?  If the answer is yes, ignore that advice.

Is the person giving you advice qualified to do so?  If the answer is no, ignore that advice.

If you want support with significant health matters such as weight loss, stopping smoking, stress or if you haven’t exercised in a while, your GP practice would be a good place to start.

Is there any evidence that this will make me healthier?

Yes!  And no.

There’s plenty of evidence showing that regular exercise and a balanced diet can improve not just our physical health, but mental health too.  Again, NHS Choices has plenty of research based advice on it’s website.  (I promise you it’s snazzier than you think!)

Changes to the UK drinking guidelines now suggest that we abstain from alcohol for at least two days a week.  ‘Dry January’ (especially if done for charity) may not be such a bad idea, but could it come at a worse time?  Back to work?  The school run?  Are you kidding me? Why can’t it be in May when we’ve all perked up a bit?  If, like me, you’ve found the return to normal life all a bit too much and succumbed to a glass of wine, don’t beat yourself up about it.

A recent review of the research into detox diets found little evidence to support them.

To my knowledge, there is no evidence to support detox bath products.

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Why are you doing it?

Good question!  If you and your friends are supporting each other in giving up drinking for a month, or stopping smoking then that’s great.

Some people just wake up in January brimming with enthusiasm to get fit.  How mad is that?!

If however you’re making a ‘new you’ because it’s January and you feel under enormous pressure to change the old you, then step away from the self-help section! Of course we all feel a bit dreary going back to work after the pizzazz of Christmas.  But before you decide to throw it all in / leave your spouse / pay £21 for a posh bubble bath, give yourself a couple of weeks to shake off the Baileys and tinsel and see how you feel then.

So there you have it.  If you’ve answered all these questions and still want to make a new you, then go for it!  But maybe turn off the facebook sharing on your running app.  Or I may need to detox my friend list….

©Jo Higman

7 Replies to “5 questions you should ask before trying to make a ‘new you.’”

  1. Great article! I now feel better in my decision to start the new year with no resolutions and carry on as usual. Life is to short and busy to think up extra challenges in January!

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