Ten Healthy New Year's Resolutions that you WILL be able to keep!
Updated: Dec 29, 2021
'Tis the season for New Year's resolutions.
Which camp are you in?
.... the "I'm not bothering - it's a waste of time" camp, or the "I'm going to go to the gym 5 times a week, giving up smoking .... and chocolate and bread .... and I'm starting meditation and yoga ...."?
Why not let this year be the year that we step away from that all or nothing approach?
Let this be the year that we recognise that the primary reason that New Year's resolutions fail is because, though our intentions may be good, we tend to have unrealistic expectations of what we can do.
We ask too much of ourselves, put ourselves under too much pressure, then beat ourselves up for not being the person we think we should be ..... no surprise that it's sometimes easier to stop setting self-improvement goals at all!
Bill Gates wrote:
We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten. Don’t let yourself be lulled into inaction.
and we have a similar issue with resolutions, and goal setting generally - particularly when it comes to health. We try to do too much, too quickly and fail to focus longer term. It takes time to build habits and habits take time to deliver results.
So, this year, why not try making just one resolution? Make it specific, measurable, ensure its achievable for you and that it's something that is meaningful enough for you to focus on.
Set up a way of monitoring it - a calendar or wall chart to tick off, a spreadsheet (I know ... I can't help myself!), place reminders where you can see them, and involve your family or work colleagues for support. Keep yourself on track by celebrating the wins as you go! Choose, at the outset, what milestones you will celebrate and how, ensuring that it will complement your resolution and shiny new habit.
Here are 10 super-achievable yet impactful resolutions that you might consider:
1. Increase your Fruit & Veg Intake
If five a day is five more than you currently do, then look for 3 a day ... or 2 ... or even 1! Any improvement is good.
And, if you are already doing a daily five, why not aim for even higher! Research from the Imperial College, London suggests that 10 portions daily could help us live longer.
Aim to add one serving to every meal.
Store colourful sliced raw veg batons in the fridge, and fruit on the kitchen worktop where you'll see it,
Ensure that you have healthy dips - hummus, natural yogurt, and good quality nut butter.
Prep snacks in advance and have them close to hand.
Try adding a small side salad to your main meal (make it colourful and full of flavour)
Add salad to your sandwiches,
Add extra veg to your soups, chilli dishes, casseroles, and omelettes. Try stirring in and wilting spinach, adding puréed cauliflower or butternut squash as a thickener, or mixing peas or legumes with your rice.
2. Reduce your Sugar Load
Reducing the amount of added sugars in your diet can dramatically improve your long-term health prospects by reducing your risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity and type 2 diabetes, amongst other health concerns.
Giving up just one fizzy drink a day could cut out 8 teaspoons of sugar.
Your resolution might be one or more of these:
Switch to water or unsweetened tea instead.
Choose fresh fruit or fruit tined in water or juice, rather than syrup.
Choose unsweetened breakfast cereals and top with fruit instead of a sprinkle of sugar.
replace the sugar in recipes with alternative flavours e.g. cinnamon, ginger, vanilla, and almond.
Compare food labels when shopping and opt for the product with less added sugars.
3. Upgrade your Snacks
Think of your snacks as a mini meal that should supply you with energy and nutrition to support your body's health. Swap out biscuits, cakes, chocolate bars and crisps for a more satiating option and only snack when you're hungry. Try:
a piece of fruit with a handful of nuts, seeds, or trail mix,
fresh fruit and Greek yogurt,
chopped peppers, celery and carrot sticks with hummus,
apple slices spread with nut butter,
whole-wheat crackers with low-fat cheese,
slice of wholegrain toast with nut butter and apple sauce.
4. Eat Breakfast!
Eating breakfast can be a great way to set yourself up for the day. Evidence suggests we think and perform better with the right combination of night-time fast-breaking nutrients. A carbohydrate source will provide energy and fuel for our bodies and brain, and a lean protein will help protect muscle mass, support our metabolism, and keep us feeling full throughout the morning.
If you don't have much time, try prepping it the night before and make it portable to save even more time. Granola, natural yogurt, overnight oats, chia pudding and smoothies are all great choices for a breakfast on the move!
5. Skip the Take-Aways
Typically higher in saturated fats, salt, and sugar, reducing your fast-food intake is good for your waistline and your overall health. For most of us take-away food is a habit. So, try breaking the routine.
Prep food in advance. If you have dinner already made or semi-prepared, you're much less likely to dial for a pizza.
Dig out the lunch box and take a tasty meal, and snacks, to work that you won't need to hit the canteen or local fast food outlet.
Get yourself some new recipes! We all want flavoursome food so, if you're always cooking the same thing, or reheating processed and bland food, you're much more likely to want to buy in some flavour.
Take an alternative route that you don't pass your usual fast-food temptations.
Keep a small tub of nuts or dried fruit in your handbag, at your desk, or in your car that you have an alternative when you get peckish.
6. Eat Mindfully
Tune into your eating habits and, in particular, get to understand your hunger and fullness cues.
Too often we eat because it's a certain time ("we always have lunch at 1 o'clock") or because other people are eating. If you also tend to eat because you're bored, or stressed, or anxious, or angry, it's worthwhile getting to understand your triggers.
In addition, think about:
eating slower that you can recognise when you've had enough,
stopping when you feel satisfied,
eating at the table, or creating a designated eating area,
removing distractions to allow you to focus on your food while you're eating
If this is an area that you want to work on, my Mindful Eating programme might be perfect for you. It's a 30-day course that will completely change how you think about food and your relationship with it.
7. Plan your Food
Avoid making poor food choices by planning your meals in advance. Creating a healthy (or healthier!) plan will make it less likely that you're caught out without the right food in the house or without the time to prepare nutritious meals. This is especially useful for those days when schedules are tight.
Forward planning allows you to consider the choices for those days and have pre-prepared food in the freezer or quick-cook options to hand.
8. Shop with a List
Why stop at planning your meals? Write out a shopping list ..... and stick to it when you get to the supermarket!
Relying on willpower alone to avoid the unhealthier food choices can be difficult. If you haven't bought the cakes, biscuits etc. you'll not be able reach for them in the kitchen cupboard.
So, when you do your grocery shopping:
don't go hungry - you'll find it easier to avoid temptation
stick to your list
ignore the aisles you don't need to do down
choose whole foods where you can, fresh produce when in season and as minimally processed as possible.
check food labels for added sugars, salt, or other additives. Less is best!
You'll not only be buying healthier, you'll also be quicker in the supermarket, save money, and reduce waste.
9. Optimise your Water Intake
You already know that drinking water is important … but you may not realise just how important it actually is. Your hydration level impacts everything from your energy levels to your weight … and just about every system and process that happens inside your body.
While experts vary about exactly how much water you should drink every day, making sure that you're properly hydrated can help with your:
Body temperature regularisation
A simple calculation to work out how much water you should have is
your weight (in kg) multiplied by 0.033 = amount of water (in litres) to drink a day
As an example, if you are 60kg, you should aim for about 2 litres of water daily. At 80kg, you'll need about 2.64 litres of water.
Try keeping a track of your water intake on a daily basis and see how much better you feel when you're fully hydrated.
10. Increase your Physical Activity
Being physically active can reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. It can also assist with weight management, blood sugar balancing and help reduce the risk depression and anxiety. Additionally, it is vital for helping our bodies to retain muscle mass, bone density and joint flexibility as we age.
Government guidelines suggest that we should aim for 150 minutes of moderate activity every week - a very achievable 30 minutes, 5 days a week.
Alternatively, 75 minutes of a more vigorous activity will deliver the same benefits.
Whatever your fitness, look for improvement and moving towards these recommended activity levels.
The guidelines have it right.
Some is good, more is better
Make a start today, it's never too late
Every minute counts
For your fitness resolution you might decide to spend 15 minutes less sitting every day, you may want to walk three times per week, or take up a brand new sport.
Go with your starting level, make achievable and make sure that it's fun!
If you are interested in a 30 minute lunchtime work out that you can complete at your own level, with the support of a personal trainer, and in the privacy of your own home, check out our Lunchtime Fillers. It could be just what you're looking for!
Whatever New Year's resolution you choose:
Don't aim for perfect, aim for better, and.
Don't measure yourself against everyone else, measure from where you start.
I'd love to know what you're doing. Let me know in the comments or send me a message - especially if you'd like some additional accountability!
Happy New Year!