With the holiday season coming to an end, many of us are gearing for the New Year. What are we looking forward to and what do we wish to leave behind us? What do we resolve to change and what are we hoping will stay exactly as is? Are we going to revert to the same old resolutions (I will lose weight, I will start exercising, I will be more motivated) or will we try something new?
For those of you looking to start anew, here are some recommendations you may find helpful.
1. ADD, ADD, and ADD whole foods to every one of your meals. These are your fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes and they are the foods your body thrives on.
2. Limit or eliminate fatty foods, processed foods, and animal products. These are foods with high fat, high cholesterol, few (if any) vitamins/minerals/phytochemicals/anti-oxidants, and little to no fiber. So, if you choose to include them in your diet do so sparingly as side dishes or flavoring to your meals.
3. DO NOT RELY ON WILLPOWER. Specifically, do not convince yourself that you can live on steamed vegetables and salads alone. No matter who you are, your willpower will eventually, and inevitably, run out. And if you have been depriving yourself chances are good that when your willpower does run out you will find yourself bingeing through your refrigerator and then heading to the local grocery store, bakery, or fast food restaurant.
4. MOVE AROUND. You don’t need to exercise MORE, you just need to exercise – so tie up your walking (or running) shoes and get moving. For those of you struggling to find the time, remember that you don’t have to work out for hours at a time. Be creative. Park a few blocks from work. Take the stairs instead of the escalator or elevator whenever possible. Break up your workouts to 10-15minute segments throughout the day. Go for a 15minute walk before work, a 15-20minute walk during lunch, and a 10-15minute walk when you get home.
5. CREATE A BUDDY SYSTEM. The easiest way to ensure success is to be supported, encouraged, and motivated. So, recruit a family member or friend (or several for that matter) to join this New Year, New You campaign. As a team you can help each other succeed by going for walks, jogs, or runs together. You can also help each other cook healthy meals. Depending on how many in your group, you can break up the week so that each person takes a turn making lunch (and maybe dinner) for everyone in the group one, two, or three nights a week (again depending on how many are in your group). This way no one has to cook every night and you ensure that you will be eating healthy meals all week long.
6. MAKE EXTRA AND FREEZE LEFTOVERS. This is a great trick for all of you on the go with little time to cook. Find some time to cook and make several meals and extra helpings so that you can refrigerate and freeze leftovers. This way you spend one morning, afternoon, or evening cooking but you have meals for the entire week.
7. DO YOUR BEST. Remember that no one is perfect and as you make changes, you may revert to past behaviors or make mistakes. See these temporary glitches for what they are and do not let them prevent you from moving forward. So, if you have a bad morning, a bad day, or a bad month, validate it as such and place it in the past. Make the next moment about moving forward mindfully as you focus on your happiness, your vitality, your trim waistline, and your health!
Enjoy the holidays and have a safe, happy, and healthy New Year!