Every year, I resolve to lose weight and every year, I start off well, but after a couple of weeks I just seem to run out of steam and go back to my old ways. I put on a lot of weight when I had my children and I don’t seem to have the willpower to do anything about it. Please help.

Your question reflects a vast number of the people’s experiences with New Year’s resolutions. You start off thinking, ‘This is my year’, and then the pressure’s on. And that’s the main problem. It’s the weight of expectation you put upon yourself that is overwhelming and it feels like too big a mountain to climb. The changes you’re trying to make start so abruptly that your mind doesn’t have time to process them, so you end up reverting to your old habits as they feel more comfortable and familiar.

But it doesn’t have to be that way; alter your approach and change will follow. If you do the same thing each year, you’ll get the same result. Do things differently and you’ll be surprised at what is possible.

Lasting change happens in the mind first and it takes time. You didn’t put on your extra weight in a month, so when 
you want to lose it, think about goals for the longer term.

The best way to achieve change is to first plan ahead. Don’t jump straight into something new; do your research and then perform a 360-degree lifestyle check on yourself. Are you eating too much? Is what you’re eating highly processed? Are you exercising and if so, is it enough? Are you getting requisite sleep? Do you eat in response to emotional triggers? Keep a lifestyle diary and pin down what is going on with your emotional and physical responses to food.

Once this is in place, go about making things small and achievable. For example, replace your breakfast with a healthy smoothie for five days out of seven. You could reduce your portions by a third. If you don’t exercise, start off with doing something you enjoy that gets your heart pumping for five minutes a day, and keep adding five minutes weekly until you build your fitness. Start slow and focus on one or two small changes at any given time.