The new year welcomes an opportunity for a new start. This January I implore you to not make a New Year’s resolution (they don’t last long enough), but to strive to build habits that help you gain on your health. Here are a few ideas:
- Track. Have you ever captured what you eat in either an app (I like Myfitnesspal, Lose It and Fooducate) or on paper? Research shows a strong correlation with those who note lose weight by eating better. This process makes us accountable and we are most likely to strive for eating well when we share the journal with others. The apps allow for this feature, but you can also buddy up with a friend and exchange logs over time. Data from the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found those who wrote everything down lost 2x as much weight as those who didn’t. How is that for motivation? A small task can give big results.
- Pack your meals for work. When we control what we pack for breakfast and/or lunch, we can control the portion size and ingredients. Use the structure of going to an office to your advantage. Having this boundary and packing meals/snack, you can leave your options to healthy ones, even when at home you wouldn’t follow through. For example, my afternoon snack in the office used to 1-1/5 cups of raw vegetables and nuts. At home I’d be less tempted to eat all the vegetable, but if I was in an office and was hungry, I’d eat what I had on hand.
- Sleep. First it needs to be appreciated and then it needs nurtured. Our average for US adults our clocked hours in bed are about as appalling as the current obesity rates. We feel like we do not have enough time in the day and we forgo sleep to makeup for it. This might be common sense, but we will never have more than 24 hours in a day and the best ways to slow down time is to 1) organize ourselves, 2) be mindful (do you every pause before eating?) and 3) meditate (Headspace is a go-to app/podcast). So back to sleep – as adults we need a bedtime and a bedtime routine, just like children. We shall not abuse caffeine as it not only hurts our sleep it can hurt our hormones (health) too, which can lead to insulin resistance, making blood sugar control harder to manage and cravings more prevalent.
- Treat. As a woman and a new mom, I now more than ever, have realized how we are often more than willing to jump and help a family member of friend when the need presents, but we don’t go out of the way for ourselves. 2015 shall be the time to slow down and schedule personal dates that include – an early morning at the book shop with coffee and exciting read, a mani/pedi, massage (some locations even have a monthly membership), a new outlet or piece of apparel. On a similar note, but slightly different page, maybe you schedule in some charity time – soups kitchens, walkathons, etc. Research shows, when we contribute or give, we get more out of it than receiving. Know what makes you tick and pleases your soul.
- Move with interest. Likely we can all agree that movement is good, but make sure it’s something you enjoy. Yes, we may judge an interval workout may give a bigger burn than Pilates, but if Pilates is something we really want to do, it benefits the body and the mind. Find new things that excite you, and rotate each month, before the activity dulls.
- Assess. Pick a time at the end of a week to review that actions you intended to reach your latest health goal. Write down what works and what doesn’t, and re-evaluate what you can do different moving forward.
Life and health is a journey. No need to hold guilt over your head if you fell off track of what you intended. Just aim to take 3 steps forward with less back. Progress is a win.