As 2020 comes to a close, we hit the typical cycle of New Year’s Resolutions. Now, I’m all about setting goals for myself in the new year, but it took me a while to realize that the goals I traditionally set were not sustainable. I have always been one to say “I’m going Keto in the new year” or “I’m going to lose ‘x’ pounds”, or better yet, “I’m going to focus on my health this year”. Well, what does that mean?! What were the tangible actions to get me to achieve my goals? I didn’t have any.
For many, including myself, these goals are typically focused on either restricting foods or pushing yourself to a level of exhaustion that’s not sustainable. That’s why I’ve put together four tips to help achieve a true health focus in the new year and beyond.
Top Four New Year’s Health Resolutions
1. Drink More Water
Sounds easy right? The unfortunate truth is that most people don’t drink enough. Water is a critical component of your day to day and I promise you’ll realize its importance when you’re drinking the right amount. I can almost instantly notice a difference when I haven’t had enough water – I am sluggish, sore, stiff, usually have a headache and then it’s all down hill from there. Water not only helps lubricate your joins, spinal cord and tissues, but it helps reset your body by flushing out toxins.
Action: Purchase a reusable water bottle and try to always have it at your side. Here’s how I manage my water intake each day (that doesn’t mean it’s the perfect routine for you): I have a 24 oz water bottle I carry with me everywhere. I’ve found that time stamping my intake and setting goals around certain points of the day works best for me… so I drink one bottle before 9 am, one before lunch, one before 3 pm and one before 6 pm. That’s my “typical” schedule. I’m not married to it, it fluctuates, it changes… but it’s important to find a routine that works best for you. These are the water bottles I use and love.
2. Get More Sleep
Whether you like it or not, your body needs sleep. Cue the one person that says “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” (there’s always one). Sleep is your body and mind’s time to repair and reset. The more sleep you are able to get in one night, the more alert you will be the next day, the better you’ll be at caloric regulation and mindful decisions about your nutrition, and the more effective your workouts will be.
Action: Experiment with putting your phone away an hour before bed. Although it may be difficult not to wind down with a social media session, minimizing blue light exposure in the hour before catching zzz’s promotes better sleep. Plus, doing so ensures you stay present with your significant other or family, your thoughts, and your surroundings.
3. Listen to Your Body
Like many others, I’ve in the past fallen into the trap of believing that I HAD to workout 5-6 times a week or else I would somehow fall off the deep end. WRONG. One of the most amazing things I realized this year (thanks to my hip injury- every positive with a negative) is to slow down. You don’t need to workout 5-6 times a week. You do need to listen to your body. If you’re tired and sluggish, chances are your body isn’t in a position to be pushed to it’s limits at the gym.
Action: Learn to embrace lower impact days where you focus on stretching, yoga, or even walking. It’s these days that remind me how thankful I am to be able to workout at different intensities, impacts, etc. So, listen to your body. BUT, don’t use this as an excuse to never hit the gym.
4. Add, Don’t Restrict
When is the last time you felt truly satisfied after a restrictive diet? For me and millions of others, restricting my diet typically leaves me in a negative state of mind. Nutrition is a mental game for a lot of people. There’s a sense of joy and happiness I get when I buy a bag of chips. They are my favorite. BUT, I can’t eat them everyday and I know that.
Action: One way to combat this is to add nutritious foods to your daily intake, rather than restricting all of the things you love and are “bad for you”. For instance, if you eat cereal for breakfast, McDonald’s for lunch, and a steak with mac n cheese for dinner, rather than cutting it all out and saying “I’m going to the whole 30 diet”, introduce small changes to your diet to make the transition easier on yourself, easier on your body and easier on your mind. Instead, when you get McDonald’s, get a side salad versus fries, substitute mac n cheese for a sweet potato and veggies at dinner, but go to town on that steak. See what I’m saying? Balance. Add those elements of nutrition into your diet versus restricting yourself from everything you love.
Now, I recognize none of that was monumental information. It’s not going to make you lose “x” pounds in however many days and it shouldn’t! People want to see results fast and I get that (I do too), but realize that it’s not a lifestyle if it’s fast. Set yourself up for success in this new year and adopt small habits into your day to day. Cheers!