If you’re already planning on setting yourself some well-intentioned but potentially hard to achieve goals on the first day of the year read on. 

That pesky feeling of shame when you’ve over indulged, and the onslaught of “New Year, New You” messages everywhere you look mean it’s easy to get sucked into setting yourself a punishing New Year’s Resolution.

The festive season is meant to be fun so give yourself a break. Most people who set themselves an unrealistic goal in January ditch the good intentions in less than two weeks. This New Year be kinder to yourself if you want to see results. Take the pressure off, set realistic long term goals and ease yourself into a sustainable routine you can maintain year-round. According to Strava, 92% of people who set themselves the goal of an event are still active 10 months later.

Nigel Redman’s small changes to his lifestyle meant he was able to lose over six stone in a year and conquer a 10-mile challenge at the Simplyhealth Great South Run.

Nigel, from Poole in Dorset, saw his weight creep up to over 17 stone, suffering from high blood pressure after indulging on takeaways and convenience food in the workplace.

He worked long shifts and became fed up of the excuses he would often make that he had no time to cook healthy meals or fit exercise into his day.

Nigel knew he had to change his way of living and embarked on a realistic healthy eating regime. He started running with the aim of completing a running event by the end of the year.

He made the small change of including vegetables with his meals and swapping shop-bought lunches for home cooked meals.

Nigel also joined a local running club, who offered him the support and encouragement to increase his distance and running ability.

Nigel said: “I had such an unhealthy diet, I would think nothing of picking up pre-made sandwiches from the shops and then returning home after a long shift and tucking into my favourite takeaway most days.

“I knew my lifestyle was not healthy and was having a negative impact on my life but I didn’t know where to start. I thought I had to make big changes because I was so far away from my goal.

“I felt humiliated on holiday, I always wore baggy clothes because deep down I knew I didn’t like how I looked but this left me wanting to turn my life around.

“I started by making the small change of making salads and pasta for my lunch at work, instead of being tempted to go to the shops.

“The weight began to fall off me and I felt great. It led to me wanting to make further changes so I decided to start a new hobby, I started running.

“I absolutely love it, by exercising and a more controlled diet I managed to lose six stone in a year.

“I joined a local running club, Poole Runners, and I have never looked back. I wanted to aim towards something later in the year with their support so I signed up to the Simplyhealth Great South Run.

“By doing something small it took the pressure off and the change has been a huge confidence boost for me.”

The small changes were enough to allow Nigel to develop a sustainable routine and he dropped from 17 stone 3lbs to 11 stone.

He added: “By the time I reached the event, I realised I had started to see myself in a totally different way and I had changed my life.

“I now run regularly, something I never thought I would be able to do. I’ve made it fun by easing myself in but it’s also great to be able to challenge myself at something like running events.”

New Year, no pressure. We’re in it for the long run. To enter the Simplyhealth Great South Run, visit: Greatrun.org/South