At the start of every new year, people all around the world set resolutions for the year ahead. Yet by the third week of January, many people have given up. By the end of February, the majority of people have completely stopped and by the following December, many people are back to where they were, or worse off than before. 2021 can be a great year for you, one where you achieve your SIBO goals. We're sharing our top 11 tips on how to set successful SIBO New Year's Resolutions so you can make 2021 your best year yet.
What happens when we set resolutions?
Let's pause a moment and think about what we need to do to change our behaviour. Successfully achieving a new year's resolution means forming new habits, and to do that we need to re-wire our brain. Habits are caused by thinking patterns which in turn create neural pathways and memories. These neural pathways are like highways which we travel along every day. We often don't think about them, because we're so used to doing them. Some common habits include brushing your teeth and showering. These activities are so commonplace in your everyday routine, that you barely spare a thought doing them.
If we have a habit that we want to change, thinking about not doing it only strengthens the pathway. Instead, we need to crowd it out with a new thought and neural pathway, such as the new habit you want to create.
Why do resolutions fail?
Given so many people set new year's resolutions, it's important to know why so many of them fail. The most common reasons include:
✓ They’re unrealistic
✓ They’re not well defined
✓ People aren’t ready to change their habits
✓ The worse the habit, the harder it is to change
✓ People put everything on hold until they achieve their resolution
✓ People didn’t have the right mindset
✓ People have had poor time management. A common expression is ‘life got in the way’
✓ There are too many distractions
With that in mind, let's look at how you can set resolutions that will be successful for you in 2021.
How to set successful SIBO resolutions
1. Forget the failures of the past
We cannot change the past, but we can influence our future. If you set yourself goals for 2020 but didn't achieve them, look at what you can learn from that experience. Read through the following 10 items and identify what you can improve upon this year.
2. Set one resolution
You are more likely to achieve success if you focus on one thing rather than several. If you must choose more than one resolution, ensure they meet all of the criteria in this list. Ask yourself: is it realistic that you can succeed in all of these areas? From a mindset perspective, achieving success in one area makes us feel much better than only achieving minimal success, or even failure, in lots of areas. In 2017, Rebecca focussed on improving the health of her back. She had been in chronic pain from it for years, but her gut had always taken priority. With her gut in much better shape, she went into 2017 just focusing on her back. She found new practitioners who specialised in backs and worked with them every week for the entire year. Today, she is out of chronic pain and able to move freely. She feels she achieved great success and credits the fact that it was her sole motive for the year.
3. Make it SMART
In business, we talk about setting SMART goals when measuring performance. Setting personal goals should be no different. SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely. After dealing with chronic SIBO for many months or years, you may have found yourself moving your body less than you would like to. A SMART goal could be that you want to run a 10km fun run in October. To achieve this you may start walking 3 days a week and build up to interval running, before slowly increasing your distance, time and speed until you are running the full 10km. The goal is specific. You can measure it. Did you run the race and the 10km? Yes or no. You have allowed yourself enough time to build up to it (10 months) so it is achievable and realistic, and by setting a date and writing it in your calendar, you have a clear time frame to work with.
4. Focus on the intention rather than the outcome
Psychologist Dr Vanessa Thiele recently coached members of the SIBO Coaching Program and discussed the importance of focussing on the intention rather than the outcome. For many people with SIBO, a goal of being free from SIBO may be unrealistic. Instead, when we focus on the intention, we can re-frame it as 'this year I will eat healthy and nutritious food that will nourish my body and support it to heal from SIBO' rather than 'by 31st December I will be free from SIBO'. Eliminating the overgrowth from your small intestine will be an enormous achievement, but if every day you made the decision to nourish your body in a way that it needs, you will be helping it to recover.
5. Identify any obstacles
Are there any roadblocks that will prevent you from achieving your resolutions? Assess your environment and identify what they could be, and how you plan to mitigate them. You may be looking to improve the quality of your sleep in 2021. Some roadblocks to this could be high levels of stress, which leave your system flooded with cortisol and adrenaline, making it impossible to sleep at night, or ensuring you to wake at 2am with the world's worries resting on your shoulders. You may choose to mitigate this with 15-minutes of meditation every morning and night, turning off all electronic equipment 1-hour before bed and removing all electronic devices from your bedroom so you're not tempted to check Facebook in the middle of the night.
6. Take Responsibility
The only person who can make you achieve your resolution is you. Others can support, encourage and guide you on the journey, but you are the only one who can make the changes to your life. If you are prone to blaming other people or circumstances for your situation, look at what you could do differently to take control.
7. Find a Buddy
It is well documented that when people have a support system in place, they are far more likely to achieve their goals than if they try to go it alone. Could a friend or family member be your buddy? If you feel there is no one there to support you, head to one of the many SIBO online support groups and ask for help. The Healthy Gut Facebook page is a great place to start. You might like to buddy up with one person, or create a group of people who are all trying to achieve the same goals. Agree how often you will check in with each other, and be willing to hear some tough love if your buddy can see you're slipping and reverting to old habits.
8. Celebrate mini milestones
For many people, their big new year's resolution is a huge change in their life, which can take many months, if not the full year, to achieve. When we can break our big resolution down into mini milestones, which we celebrate, it can motivate us to keep going. If we think about running in a 10km race, some milestones could be: running your first 1km without stopping, moving your body 4 days a week for 1 month, running 5km without stopping and ultimately completing the race. Set some rewards for each milestone. They may include going shopping for new running shoes, a massage, a pedicure, or a completely new exercise outfit.
9. Write It Down
In a study conducted by Dr. Gail Matthews, a psychology professor at the Dominican University in California, people who regularly wrote down their goals were 42% more likely to achieve them than those who just thought about them. When we write down our goals we engage both the left and right hand side of our brain. This sends a signal to the brain that we mean business and are serious about achieving it. It also allows our subconscious brain to get to work, looking for solutions for our problems (our yet to be achieved resolutions).
10. Focus on the present
We can't control the past and the future hasn't occurred yet. But we can have an impact on today. Treat each day as a new day, almost as if you have set the reset button. If yesterday didn't go according to plan, leave it in the past and don't carry it into your present. If you're a visual person, you may like to print out our reset button and stick it on your bathroom mirror. That way, every morning you can literally hit reset to help you start the day.
11. Have fun
Look at how you can make achieving your resolution enjoyable. The more fun you have achieving it, the more likely you are to stick with it.
Let us help you achieve your resolutions
Is your resolution to get back on track with your SIBO diet? A 1:1 SIBO Coaching Session with Rebecca Coomes could be just the thing to help you.