Did it get you again this year? Something like… “THIS year is going to be my year! I’ll be at the gym every day, I’ll lose 20 pounds, I’ll do yoga at home, and I’ll start juicing daily because I’m ready to live this life!” Well cheers to that, resolution people!! Here are some tips to ensure that your magic number really IS 2016 and that this will hands-down be your golden, platinum and diamond year:
1. Make a list of why you are making healthy changes, and refer back to it every day. Aside from your doctor wanting you to get healthier, make a list of 10 reasons why eating healthier, exercising, and adopting healthier habits is on your New Year’s Resolution list. Do you want more energy? Better sleep? To fit into your old clothes? Or maybe you’re just tired of saying “I need to get healthier” and making excuses for why it’s not a good time. You’ll be surprised how great you feel after a few simple changes. And that feeling is often the motivation you need to keep going too!
2. Remove temptations. The best way to avoid overdoing it on high-fat, high-sugar foods that are going to hinder your New Year’s goals, is to remove all temptations. I like to call this the “Pantry Raid.” Throw out or donate foods that aren’t going to help you meet your goals and replace them with healthier options. Popcorn is a better option than chips or pretzels, dark chocolate squares are better than cookies or cakes, and low-calorie drinks like Honest Tea and seltzer water are better than sodas or juices.
3. Make changes slowly. Rather than going full speed out of the starting gate on January 1st with a juice cleanse, an intense exercise routine, and a detox from all the foods you love, make one simple change per week. This will increase your chances of actually sticking with that new healthy habit. For example:
Week 1: Drink more water. Try for 10 glasses every day. At first, you’ll be in the bathroom a lot. But then things will even out as your body gets used to the new, hydrated you.
Week 2: Eliminate fried foods. Try grilled, steamed, sautéed, stir-fried, and baked for lower calorie options when it comes to cooking. And, if you’re a fried food lover, treat yourself with something small at the end of the week.
Week 3: Walk 20 minutes every day. Go outside, or use a treadmill inside to get your 20 minutes done. You can even step up and down on a small stool while watching your favorite TV show. Just move those feet and get your heart rate up in a healthy way.
Week 4: Eat more veggies. Add a serving of raw or cooked veggies to lunch and dinner every day, and eat them as the first part of your meal. You may find that you’re less hungry for the more calorie-rich foods when you get your veggies “over with” first. And you may even start to crave them!
Week 5: Eat beans or lentils instead of meat one night per week. Meatless Mondays have gained a lot of momentum lately, and for good reason. Skipping meat usually means you’re eating more fiber, which fills you up faster and is great for portion control. And rather than replacing a burger with a meatless cheese lasagna (which may actually have MORE calories), try to replace the meat with a plant protein like black beans in a burrito, lentils in a stew or pasta sauce, or a veggie chili loaded with kidney beans and pinto beans. Keep this habit going to keep variety in your week.
4. Track your progress and celebrate every small victory. If losing 50 pounds is your goal, track your weight on a weekly basis and celebrate every ounce lost. Even if you don’t lose weight one week, look back on what progress you’ve made in other ways since the beginning of the year and congratulate yourself. Maybe you’re able to walk without getting out of breath for 10 minutes instead of 5. Celebrate that progress! Heck, celebrate every. single. minute!
5. Talk about your New Year’s Resolutions. If your coworkers, friends, and family know that you’re working on new, healthy habits, they can motivate you and make sure you stay on track. If you keep your goals a secret, it’ll be harder to say no to the cookie tray that appears in your work area. And perhaps you can find a buddy who shares the same goals as you do. You can motivate each other and swap new, healthy recipes, go on walks together, and even initiate your own “biggest loser” competition if you want.
Keep in mind that any healthy change is an important one, and while change can be difficult, once you pass the magic 21 days, your habits will become more solidified. You’ve got this, people!