A new year, a new you. That's the plan, right? Most of us who make New Year's resolutions are intent on keeping them. We begin these new habits yet few of us actually finish what we started. The reason? It's hard.
Losing weight, eating more fruits and vegetables, gaining muscle, quitting caffeine, toning up or going vegetarian or gluten-free―these are all achievable goals. They do, however, require discipline and dedication. In this post we'll give you a handful of ways to improve your chances of actually keeping those healthy resolutions.
It's easy to get a bit over ambitious when it comes to health goals. While it's beneficial to shoot for the stars, it can also set you up for huge disappointment, which in turn can lead to a sense of low self-worth. Society leads us to believe that successful people become that way through some stroke of luck or fast track to glory. This is seldom true. Dedication, sacrifice and lazer focus are the reality for most. Make your goals achievable. If you have a big task, such as losing 20 pounds or more, break this into micro goals. Losing 5 pounds, for example, is much more digestible (pardon the pun). Then use the momentum from this success and repeat, repeat, repeat.
“Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.”― Theodore Roosevelt
Grab a Friend
Enlist a friend or loved one who has a similar resolution. By partnering up you can help one another stay motivated and accountable. My experience in group workout classes has made me a big believer in the power of the group mentality: everyone shows up and everyone gives their best. Not being there means you're not only failing yourself, you're failing your partners. No one wants to be the weak link in the chain.
Having a partner or partners also makes working out, dieting or any endeavor much more enjoyable. It can be fun, social and provide the camaraderie we naturally crave.
Ditch the Alcohol
This might already be one of your resolutions, but it's a good one for everyone. If you're serious about your new goals then alcohol needs to go. Alcohol impairs your judgement, and an otherwise dedicated person will give in to bad eating, missing workouts or other unhealthy habits under the influence.
Now a glass of wine with dinner here and there, or a beer on the weekend is not a problem. More than one or two drinks, however, and you're headed away from your goals. Not to mention that alcohol is inherently unhealthy: lots of liquid calories, sugars and of course there's the damaging effects of alcohol itself. Decide on giving up the booze altogether, or set a limit on weekly consumption and stick to it.
You wake up on January 1st with a huge hangover and no idea how to start 2017. If you're serious about making those resolutions stick, then you need to take the actions needed to prepare. This could mean buying supplements, joining a gym or researching the best ways to meet your goals. Remember, it's highly likely others have had the same goal and have documented their journey. Learn from their mistakes and successes.
When are you starting your new habit(s)? Be very clear about this. Write it down. Is it January 1st , January 2nd or February 5th? It doesn't matter, just decide and don't look back.
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”― Benjamin Franklin
Make Health a Way of Life
Good health is not a diet. It's not a philosophy, nor a special workout. Good health is the culmination of healthy habits over time; there is no magic bullet out there. In many ways, good health is based on these few habits: exercising regularly, eating a balanced diet based on unprocessed foods and avoiding alcohol, smoking and fatty foods. Some say it's not about what you eat, it's about what you don't eat. Of course it's not that simple, as illness and disease can affect even the healthiest individuals.
It's also important to note that mental and emotional health are equally important. It has been well documented that negative stress can physically manifest itself in the human body in the form of illness.
Meditation, sports and time spent in nature can help create mental and emotional balance. Unplugging from technology is also a way to get peace of mind in our otherwise hectic, information overloaded society. Studies show that quality time spent with friends and loved ones has significant positive health benefits.
Make health a priority. Be good to yourself in mind, body and spirit. And in this day and age, and especially at this time of year, be good to others. Health isn't just about you or me, it's about our communities and this beautiful world all around us.
"I believe that the greatest gift you can give your family and the world is a healthy you." ―Joyce Meyer