Chris Sandel is a nutritionist and runs the company 7 Health. He specialises in helping clients ending dieting, reproductive issues and disordered eating and he’s here at Frame to talk about striking out the New Years Resolutions and adopting some new habits in 2016.

New Year resolutions are nothing new. The ancient Babylonians were in on the act roughly 3000 years ago.

But while the practice isn’t new, it seems like we still haven’t figured it out very well. A 2007 study found that 88% of those who set New Year Resolutions fail, and this is despite the fact that 52% of the participants were confident at the beginning.

So what I’d like to do is give you my top three tips on habit formation and how you can be the anomaly that actually reaches your goals, instead of having them forgotten about before the close of the month.



When people think about some dramatic life change, they usually think there was some key event that lead to this monumental shift. While it is easy to think this, in reality what lead to this was a change in many tiny behaviours that were repeated daily.

Anyone who keeps something up long term generally does so because they enjoy doing it. You can force yourself to do something you dislike for a short period but at some point this motivation will run out and you’ll get fed up.

But if you can get into the process and actually enjoy it, then it stops being about having to force yourself to do something for some distant end goal. Rather you enjoy it for the sake of doing it.

Stop daydreaming about how amazing it will be when such and such goal is attained. Instead focus on the little things you need to keep doing to lead to this goal. There can be many ways to reach a desired goal, so pick ones in which you can enjoy the process.



Too often people fail to achieve their goals because what they set is so unrealistic. They set the bar so high and force themselves to do practices they dislike that their failure is inevitable.

When working with people who want to create new habits I get them to go the opposite way. I want them to create goals that are so easy that it is basically impossible not to follow through.

Say for example your New Year resolution is about doing more exercise. You’re someone who doesn’t currently exercise but you want to make it part of your life.

What most people do in this instance is say that they are going to go to the gym three times a week for an hour or something along these lines.

But if you think about it, what’s the real goal you’re trying to achieve? You want to be someone who exercises regularly. So the goal should be about doing things that lead to habit formation around exercise.

So maybe start with a goal of doing two minutes of exercise three times a week.

And I know what you are thinking, but two minutes of exercise isn’t going to do anything to change your health. And you’d be right.

But what actually happens is it is so easy that people feel like they are actually keeping up with their goals. And it snowballs; they start out with the idea of doing something for two minutes and end up doing ten. And then the ten becomes 20.

In the early stages it’s not about transformations in your body or even becoming healthier, it’s about creating a habit that you can actually keep up.

Going to the gym 3 times a week for an hour and keeping it up for 6 weeks and then giving it up, does basically nothing for your long-term health. But if you start out small, even if this is just doing exercise for two minutes at a time, and this then leads to you being someone who exercises regularly, then this is infinitely better.

So rather than setting audacious goals that lead to you feeling despondent and like a failure for not keeping them up, start with things that are so easy that they actually create habits.



When people think about new habits, the word willpower comes to mind. But for me, willpower is overrated.

People normally follow the path of least resistance. If you can make the right choice the easiest choice then people are much more likely to follow through.

For example if you take a snack of fruit and yoghurt into work, when you get hungry at 11am it is likely that this is what you are going to eat. If you take no snack into work but there is a vending machine that sells chocolate bars, when you get hungry at 11am you are likely to eat a chocolate bar.

If your fridge is full of fruit and vegetables you are more likely to eat this stuff. If your cupboards are packed with cakes and biscuits, you’re more likely to consume these foods.

This isn’t about willpower, it’s about how you’ve set up the environment and what is around you at the time you get hungry.

And this doesn’t just apply to foods, but about many areas of your life. Work out ways that you can create an environment that makes it incredibly easy to follow through because it is the easiest choice.

New Year resolutions should be thought about as habits that you want to create and keep up as part of your life. The momentum and excitement that you have on day one will inevitably wane. That’s why it’s important to focus on the process and find things you enjoy doing; to make it so easy that you can keep it up; and to create an environment that encourages you to keep going when you’ve run out of will power.

Chris Sandel is a nutritionist and runs the company 7 Health. He specialises in helping clients ending dieting, reproductive issues and disordered eating. You can find out more information at his website, listen to his weekly podcast and follow him on Facebook.