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How to keep your New Year Resolutions this time

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Chris Hunt Wellness Runner

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This is Part One of my blog about New Year’s Resolutions, Part Two will follow soon.

On January 1st, millions of people begin the annual ritual of New Year’s Resolutions. Memberships at health clubs and diet programs soar, whilst sales of chocolate and alcohol decline. People take a long, hard look at their spending habits as they sort through the January bills.

Yet despite all this good intention, most people will fail at their resolutions. Come February, most New Year’s resolutions will be a dim memory. How can such apparently strong determination fizzle out so quickly? What can we do to increase the likelihood that our desire for change will translate into permanent positive change?

Chris Hunt Wellness  Healthy Eating

Let’s first examine the psychology of the New Year’s Resolution. During the month of December people tend to overindulge in eating, drinking, spending money and neglecting exercise. Rather than moderate these behaviours, we promise ourselves that after the holiday season is over, we will definitely take control. In the meantime, we give ourselves permission to overindulge without guilt. Our resolve is at its peak when we feel full, drunk, or broke. It’s easy to think about going on a diet as we groan from a bloating holiday meal. It’s no problem to plan to quit smoking when we’ve just had a cigarette and replenished our nicotine level. At this point we feel confident about our New Year’s resolutions because we have not yet confronted any prolonged physical deprivation or discomfort.

In early January, we are often so sick of rich food and drinks, and feeling so sluggish from lack of vigorous physical activity that it’s not difficult to abstain from overindulgence. In fact, some people look forward to more structure and discipline in their lives. However, a few weeks into the new discipline, our appetites have returned, and we start to feel deprived. It is at this point that we are most at risk for reverting back to old behaviours.

Soon we start rationalizing that this is not a good time of year, what with cold weather and our numerous obligations. When spring comes, we’ll really get into shape. Thus, we make another promise to ourselves, and, now free of guilt, put off habit change for another few months. Chances are that when spring arrives, we will have another temporary surge of motivation, only to abandon it within a few weeks.

Pilates Group

Why do people abandon their resolutions? One reason is that we become discouraged when results don’t come quickly enough, or when we find that we are not necessarily happier because of them. Behavioural change requires sustained effort and commitment. It is also typically accompanied by physical discomfort. For example, reducing food, alcohol or nicotine intake from a level to which you have become accustomed, results in cravings. Forcing yourself to get off your cosy chair to exercise is often difficult when you’re tired. And of course, it’s easy to procrastinate until tomorrow, so that you can rationalise not disciplining yourself today.

Therefore, if you are going to make New Year’s resolutions this year, be sure you are ready for the challenge. Read Part Two of this blog for some tips to maximize your success.

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Frack off! The debate continues…

Yesterday the UK Government’s climate change advisory body said that in their opinion, the UK should push on with fracking. They dismissed claims by groups such as Greenpeace that fracking can cause damage to the environment.

What is fracking, and why does it create such strong feelings on both sides of the argument? Fracking involves drilling a vertical well to reach shale formations. When the shale is reached, the drilling becomes horizontal and water, sand and chemicals are pumped in allowing shale gas to be released. The pro-fracking lobby says that shale gas will reduce the UK’s reliance on foreign imports of fossil fuel and some say it will reduce household bills. They also point to the experience in the US where it’s claimed that emissions have been cut because it’s cleaner than coal. Greenpeace claim that gas and toxic chemicals used in fracking could contaminate water supplies and that exploding mineral reserves impairs efforts to cut emissions. But the advisory body are having none of that, they say “it just isn’t true that fracking is going to destroy the environment…”

So how can the two sides be saying what amounts to totally opposite points of view? Who is right? As usual the truth probably lies somewhere in between the two extreme arguments, and your point of view will be determined by the filter that you use to consider such issues. Everything we see in life, every decision we make is based on our particular filter which we create over our lifetime based on our experiences. This is one of the reasons why two people can look at the same event or issue and have opposite opinions. Of course our filter might not be pure, it can be tainted by greed, ignorance, ego, self-interest or many other things, but it is all that some people have. More about filters another time.

Back to fracking. I want to mention a recent study by Christian Klose, a consultant geophysicist, whose research in the Journal of Seismology identified 92 large earthquakes likely to have been caused by humans. Some he claims were triggered by water extraction (such as Lorca, Spain in 2011), others were caused by coal extraction (Newcastle, Australia in 1989 where 13 people died). Klose argues that the earth has thousands of geological faults under enormous pressure similar to those in a coiled spring. When humans pile up vast masses of water or minerals on the surface, or extract them from beneath, the weight of the overlying land can be enough to release that geological tension causing an earthquake. Sounds logical. In fact, Britain’s first exploratory fracking operation, near Blackpool, was shut down for more than a year when it triggered small quakes.     

There are more questions than answers when we talk about fracking. In my opinion it cannot reduce household bills and it can only ever been on a small scale in the UK because of a shortage of water and given where the shale gas reserves have been formed. This debate touches on such wide issues. You get much wider than the environment, emissions and future energy programs. And herein lies one of the reasons why fracking creates such an intense debate, with former Page 3 models willing to risk prison to make their point.

I remain uncomfortable with the process of fracking and doubtful over its long-term benefits when compared to the potential problems.  The UK needs to solve its energy issues, and I cannot help but look to the policy in Germany, but that is for another blog.