New Year’s Resolutions

RightFood4U blog new year's resolutions - Nutrition Programmes - Bray Wicklow Dublin
Ilona Madden - RightFood4U - Nutrition Programmes - Bray Wicklow Dublin

Written by Ilona Madden

December 30, 2019

New Year’s Resolutions

Are you someone who makes New Year’s Resolutions?

And if so, do you track them, write them down, review them during the year and at the end of the year?

And if not, how do you feel about making them? Do you feel indifferent? Have you given up on making New Year’s resolutions because you don’t stick to them? Do you think they are a complete waste of time?

I am not so sure either. I have done and felt all of the above over the years.

It can be so frustrating if you have set yourself some resolutions and goals for the year and at the end of the year, you find that you didn’t do or achieve half or more of them.

And you end up asking yourself “Well, what’s the whole point of it?”

I have been there loads of times. But this year, I have done a lot of soul searching when it comes to goals and goal setting, especially during the time I was injured.

One of my goals for 2019 was to get back into more running and especially trail running. And I signed up for an 18k Trail Run end of September and was really looking forward to it, but a few days beforehand I did major damage to my knee and I am still not fully recovered and far away from running.

So, I did not achieve this goal – but the big question is: “Has all this training been wasted time?”

As disappointing as it was not to have run that big trail race, I guess everyone would agree that any enjoyable run in the 9 months leading up to that race, has not been a waste of time. Every single run was fun, every single run brought me closer to the goal, and every single run gave me some fitness and was good for my physical and mental health.

So, the question really is: If I didn’t have that goal in my mind, would I have done as many runs as I did during 2019?

I also had goals in my that I did not achieve. I wanted to do more art and get back into creating oil paintings. I simply didn’t. I kept prioritising work, exercise and cooking – even household chores. I kept putting it off all the time, finding all sorts of excuses.

I am disappointed and I am still looking at that unfinished oil painting that has so much potential of turning into something great. What I need to do is be really honest with myself. Why did I not prioritise this goal? Was it important to me enough to make it happen? If it wasn’t, I need to scrap it from my “goal” list and move on. If it was – and I think the disappointment shows me that – I will put it back on the list and develop a plan. Which day of the week and time will I simply commit to painting? By which dates does this one have to be finished? What other paintings will I do? I will look at the obstacles that might come in the way, and I will think of strategies to overcome those.

If your goal for 2019 has been to lose weight and remove sugar from your diet for example, and if you didn’t do anything or enough to achieve this goal, be honest with yourself and ask yourself, whether this has really been important enough to you or whether you have prioritised all other things? This is no judgement. If at the moment, you are prioritising your job and your family and not yourself and your health, you have a good reason and you are simply not ready yet. But do not complain about not fitting into your clothes! The same way, that I cannot complain about not having finished this painting!

This is the reason, why I feel, you should use the New Year or New Decade to write down your goals. Go for them. If you work towards them with a purpose – consistently –  you cannot lose, even if you don’t fully achieve them. You will have lived with a purpose throughout the year! Some things will always be out of our control, but if you have done everything you can, always given your best and done everything in your control – you have achieved a lot!

And if you do nothing to achieve those goals, well then reflect on the reason, why you did nothing or not enough. Was it an important enough goal to begin with? Did you really try out everything that was necessary or did you give up too early? Did you get the right support?


I got a lovely email before Christmas from a client who did my programme at the beginning of this year to tell me that “This is the lightest I have been at Christmas in the last 15 years!”

Would you love to be the lightest you have been in the last 15 years?

Here is what I would recommend you can do:

1. Get yourself a really nice journal or notebook

Exercise and diet journal from tiger

(I love this one from TIGER). Write down all the things you’d love to do more of or less of, just write…Reflect on your year, what went well, what didn’t, how did it make you feel, what had you planned to do and didn’t, etc etc. I think this quiet time between Christmas and New Year’s when we sometimes don’t even remember what day of the week it is, is such a fantastic time to reflect. Much, much better spent than sitting in front of Netflix!

Having written that review and having “dumped” all your thoughts should give you some indication of what you might love to do in 2020. It can be completely silly, nobody needs to read the things you write down. Number all the things and just write without judging it. It can be anything from learning to Tango to a parachute jump, swimming with dolphins, taking a cooking lesson, getting a manicure, cutting your hair short, attending an art class or whatever comes to your mind.

Now go over that list again, and prioritise. Which of those things really mean a lot to you and to your family? How would they change your quality of life? What will happen if you don’t do or change those things?  So, let’s take the weight loss: How important is it really to you? How much better will you feel if you fit into those clothes again? How much better will you feel to have tons of energy again all day long? How much better will you feel being able to keep up with your kids?

And what will happen if you don’t lose weight: Will you get even heavier and have less energy? Could your weight lead to other health issues such as diabetes? Do you need to buy a whole new wardrobe? Will your allergies take over your life? Will your digestive issues get in your way of going out with friends?

You could do this to all of the other things then as well. If you want to learn to dance the Tango, for example, ask yourself the benefits (getting fitter, having fun, switching off, meeting new people, a sense of achievement, etc.) and ask if you can fit it into your diary, if there’s anything negative or anything else why you couldn’t do it.

If there are obstacles, ask yourself what you will do to overcome those?

2. Now that you have the big goals written down, break them down into small goals.

Losing 2 stone by Christmas 2020, can be your big goal. So, what do you need to do to get there? If you haven’t spoken to me yet, book yourself an appointment for a Health & Nutrition assessment, which I offer complimentary to you.

Could it be that in the past, you fell off track, simply because you didn’t have the right support, or maybe it was because you had so much conflicting information that you didn’t know where to start with? If you book a programme with me, I will help you get started and will help you give some clarity. I will coach you towards the single steps to take to achieve your goal.

Maybe you know exactly what to do, but simply need to be held accountable for? You can book a programme with me, where you see me once a month and we discuss everything that’s going well and what isn’t. Or maybe you just need to get regular reminders and tips, then you might just be happy enough to read my emails, blogs and Facebook posts.

What is important though, is to have a plan. And not just in the back of your head, but clearly written down and spelt out!

So, my plan for 2019 was to run 18k, I set myself running goals for each month, the number of km I want to get up to, the number of short, fast runs I wanted to do, the number of slow, long runs etc.

If your goal is to lose weight, I would urge you though, not to write down a goal of losing 1 lb per week or something like that. Simply, because that’s something you don’t exactly have control over and that will lead to frustration. Your goal needs to be something that you have control over and that you can do! This way, you will feel a sense of achievement and this will keep you motivated.

Your daily/weekly goals could be:

  • try out one new recipe every week
  • introduce one new vegetable every week
  • do the 10000 steps every day
  • join a gym or Pilates class (and turn up regularly!)
  • go completely sugar-free for 2 weeks
  • practice daily gratitude
  • practice a daily mindfulness exercise
  • eat mindfully
  • keep a food diary for the whole year
  • keep a journal for the year
  • don’t eat for 12 hours (or more) every day
  • Completely avoid any refined or processed food
  • cook from scratch

These are all little steps that everyone can do, and if you do those, these will lead to your desired weight loss.

However, if you do all those things, and you do not see a result after a few weeks or months, there might be something else going on that might need to get examined. It could be your hormones (insulin, thyroid hormones, female hormones), it could be some medication you are on (for example statins, steroids, etc), it could be your gut bacteria, or it could be some underlying psychological barrier that keeps coming up. In any of those cases, an appointment with a Nutritional Therapist like me could bring clarity by doing tests and asking the right questions. By getting to the root cause, these blocks can be removed and the way paved to reach your goal.

3. Hold yourself accountable for or get someone to become accountable to.

This depends very much on the individual, and sometimes even on the specific goal. The best way to be held accountable for is to announce it to everyone. I’m registering for this race in September, I pay the fee, and I share it on facebook. Even though probably none of your friends really care whether you do it or not doesn’t even matter. Just by announcing it, you are more likely to commit.



Never ever tell yourself that you will try to lose weight and try to get fit in 2020, because that’s all you’ll be doing: “Trying”, you won’t actually be DOING!

“I am going to lose weight” or better still give the exact goal: “I am going to be my lightest weight in the last 15 years by next Christmas”

“I am my fittest ever by next Christmas because I will have lifted heavier weights and run more km than ever before!” or “I have attended the gym 3x every single week in 2020”

5. And my most important advice: ENJOY every moment of it and stay mindful!

Get excited about your goal and about achieving your goal. Keep reminding yourself of the benefits and why you have included that particular goal on your list – especially when it gets tough and when you are struggling.

If you stay in the moment, you do not want to be anywhere else or do anything else. Just do what needs to be done and accept it. Don’t resist it. Don’t fight it. Don’t question it. That causes inner conflict and will get in the way of your goal. Never give up!

I enjoyed every run I did in 2019 with that goal in mind. Seeing myself on top of the mountain, seeing myself crossing the finish line, sharing the photos – feeling proud of myself! Yes, the fact that I didn’t do it was disappointing, but it got me out in the cold, wet, windy conditions when I – without that goal in mind – would not have gone out.

Yes, cooking from scratch requires more time and planning, and it can be difficult in the beginning. But you can learn this like anything else, it’s not rocket science! You just need to stick with it. And enjoy it! If you stay mindful, you cannot resist it, you won’t fight it, and you won’t question it – and most importantly: You won’t give up!

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