Are you looking to make some healthy changes this year, but whenever you make a New Year’s resolution to get healthy, you end up going strong with a whole new lifestyle plan for a couple of weeks, and then totally let it slide? Well, I have some good news and some bad news. Bad news first: Trying to overhaul your entire lifestyle at once is most likely going to fail every time. It is just not practical. The good news? Making small changes to your daily life can have a big impact, especially since you are more likely to keep them going long term, so here are some tips on how to start small:
Stocking up on healthy basics like lean protein, fruits, and vegetables is important, but it is also a good idea to have better-for-you indulgences around to satisfy cravings you know are going to come up. Otherwise, you might look around at your perfectly wholesome kitchen and go “FORGET THIS, I am ordering pizza!” (and that is fine now and then, but you still want to set yourself up for everyday success). Some of my go-to “healthy” indulgences are two rice cakes (my fave are these Quaker Rice Cakes) with peanut butter (my fave is Trader Joe’s No Salt Added Crunchy Peanut Butter), yogurt (my fave is this 8 cup pack of Yoplait Light) with a ¼ cup of whole grain cereal (my fave is Post Great Grains Crunchy Pecan Cereal) or a piece of fruit or cut up veggies.
Get ahead of the game! It might seem like work, but meal planning can make things easier. You do not need to chart out your every bite, but really think about what types of meals you will want to eat throughout the week and what you will have time for. If you do not like to spend a ton of time in the kitchen right before dinner, stock up on time-saving meal starters, like precooked protein and precut veggies and make-ahead recipes can help save time in the kitchen and keep you on track too.
Drink More Water
This might sound like a vague tip but let us break it down into some helpful mini tips! For example, begin your day with a cup of hot lemon water, and you will be off to a great start. Changing the temperature of your water is a really good trick if you find ice-cold H2O a little much. Throughout the day, carry around a big water bottle as a constant reminder to stay hydrated. Need a bit of flavor? Add fruit to your water and let it infuse and anytime you feel a snack attack coming, have a full glass of water then wait 10 minutes before going for something to eat (it could be that you were just dehydrated).
Add Physical Activity, No Matter How Small
It is easy to get hung up on the kind of exercise you think you should be doing and letting that turn into doing nothing at all. Going for a walk is better than nothing, even if you are just walking around inside your house (a.k.a. house walking). Set a realistic goal and track your steps with a fitness app or pedometer. Another great trick is to get a solid number of steps in during the morning, so that it does not become something you are putting off all day long. Also, there are so many free workout videos on YouTube, so look up something that feels good to you in the moment, whether it is yoga, dancing, or a low-impact cardio workout.
Break Up with an All-or-Nothing Attitude
Planning to do something perfectly or not at all is a fast-track to “Not At All”. This year do what you can on any given day to respect and support your body with the things you need and if you do not hit all of your goals that day, move forward knowing that you did your best. Take the 80/20 approach to all healthy habits to make them more realistic in the long run. The most important thing is to focus on the good things you ARE doing instead of stressing about what you are NOT doing.
Think Beyond Diet & Exercise
Sure, those two elements are important when it comes to feeling your best, but you can also support your physical and mental health in other little ways like getting enough sleep, reducing stress, taking a break from screen time to get outside for some fresh air and sunshine and make a point of staying connected to people you may not see regularly.
Whatever health resolutions you have made for 2021, remember slow and steady wins the race and I hope these tips help you reach your goals this year and until next time, be happy, healthy, and beautiful!
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