19 January, 2023

Another year has come to a close and as we welcome 2023 with open arms, many will be setting goals for the year ahead. Having goals for things we want to do and working towards them is an important part of being human. But how can we stick to them? 

We all aspire to be the healthier and happier versions of ourselves and whether having big or small goals, this is part of what makes life good. It gives us a sense of meaning and purpose and points us in the direction of where we want to go! 

Setting goals is all well and good but when you set goals without thinking about those smaller milestones in between, they can often feel out of reach, and you then end up falling off the wagon. It’s good to remember that slow and steady wins the race. 

Our top tips on setting and sticking to your New Year goals can be found below. 

Decide.  

Think of something you want to do or work towards. What are you unhappy with and what can you change for the better? It doesn’t matter what, as long as it’s something you actually want to do as you’re more likely to stick to it. 

Set milestones not goals.  

Setting unrealistic goals can sometimes be unachievable, so instead set smaller milestones which build up to a bigger overall goal. 

Write it down.  

Writing things down increases your chances of sticking with them. Write down your overall goal, and then work out the milestones in between and when you’d like to have it achieved. We have prepared a printable tracker for you to use.

Tell someone.  

Telling someone we know about our goals also seems to increase the likelihood that we will stick with them as they may encourage us or even complete the goal alongside us. 

Celebrate. 

When you reach each milestone goal take time to enjoy it and thank those that helped you. 

What goals should I set? 

Here at Breast Cancer UK, we encourage people to make lifestyle changes to help reduce their risk of breast cancer. Below we have highlighted suggested areas that you could work towards that can also help reduce your risk. 

From the things you eat to the chemicals you’re routinely exposed to; all of these can help determine whether you’re at a higher or lower risk of breast cancer. The good news is you have a certain amount of control over these factors.  

These factors can include physical activity, alcohol intake, diet, maintaining a healthy weight, reducing your exposure to harmful chemicals (and endocrine disrupting chemicals), and other lifestyle factors. Please visit our reduce your risk section for more information. 

Alcohol 

Alcohol is always a big one for giving up in the New Year, especially after a heavy Christmas season of drinking and socialising, people feel the need for a detox. In the UK, it is estimated that 8% (around 4,400) of female breast cancer cases are linked to alcohol consumption.  

A great way to start your prevention journey is to aim to have at least some alcohol-free days each week. Or try incorporating some mocktails next time you go out for drinks to reduce your intake slowly.  

But if you want to go for it, we have a special challenge called Ditch the Drink, where we challenge you to go alcohol-free for 30 days (and get sponsored while doing it). Are you up for the challenge? Sign up today! 

Diet and weight 

Any healthy diet should include a variety of foods, such as fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grain products, healthy fats and plant protein, and provide the right amount of energy and nutrients. By making good food choices you can help reduce your risk of developing breast cancer.  

Start off by tweaking your regular food choices and making them healthier. For example, swap mince in your spaghetti Bolognese recipe for tempeh or meat-free mince instead. This will help to reduce the level of fat in the dish without sacrificing taste. Or for breakfast instead of granola and fruit, swap it for overnight oats and fruit instead. This will lower the amount of refined sugar, but it will still be naturally sweet from the fruit. 

Tweaking your regular recipes instead of changing them completely can make it easier to stick to.  You don’t have to resort to drastic changes in your diet to be healthier. By making small changes over time you begin eating better without realising 

Our organic recipe book has lots of great vegetarian family-favourite recipes you can use all year round to help you reach your goals. 

Chemical exposure 

EDCs, also called endocrine disrupting chemicals, can interfere with the hormones in our body and mimic their actions. Those that mimic the actions of the natural hormone oestrogen are of particular concern regarding breast cancer risk. 

Many chemicals in everyday products and the environment can affect your risk of breast cancer. Throughout life, we are continuously exposed to multiple different chemicals which in combination may be especially harmful. The numerous chemicals the body has to deal with can add up and is known as your ‘body burden’. By reducing your body burden, just by a small amount, by limiting your exposure to harmful chemicals, you can reduce your risk of breast cancer.  

The app, Yuka, analyses and scans hygiene and cosmetic products. Just scan to see which ones contain a lot of EDCs and need swapping. These will appear as red or orange. Swap them with better (that appear yellow or green) alternatives. You can do this each time a product runs out and replace it with a safer alternative. Yuka can be downloaded here. 

Exercise 

By being physically active you can reduce your risk of breast cancer by around 20%. Physical activity also reduces the risk of breast cancer recurrence and mortality following a breast cancer diagnosis. 

Hitting the recommended 150-300 minutes per week will have you feeling so much better physically and mentally. But, getting motivated to exercise can be hard, especially when you’re not used to it. But physical activity doesn’t necessarily mean going to the gym or running a marathon. If you’re unable to do structured exercise, then to the best approach is to build physical activity into your daily life.  

Simple lifestyle changes can really make a difference. Try building just 10 minutes per day into your daily routine by going for a walk, a short jog, or doing a short yoga or dance workout. There are lots of great exercise videos available on YouTube for all fitness levels that can help keep you motivated. Gradually increase the amount of exercise you do over a few weeks and before you realise it, you’ll be hitting the recommended minutes per week and feeling so much better for it too. 

We hope our tips on making and keeping New Year’s resolutions help you make changes and help you stick to those healthy habits. Try simple swaps to reduce your risk of breast cancer today. Prevention is always better than cure. Browse through our website for more information or keep an eye out on our social media for top tips on how you can reduce your risk of breast cancer. 

Start your breast cancer prevention journey today. 

You can help make a difference. Help fund our research – you can help prevent breast cancer for future generations. Donate today 



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