Welcome to 2017! If, like so many people, you have made health/fitness/diet related goals or resolutions for the new year it’s important to know now to meet those goals. Think about it. Every year hundreds of thousands of people across the US resolve to eat healthier, exercise more, finally lose that weight and countless other health related tasks. But, the truth is that very few people keep new year resolutions after March. We get busy with life and the excitement of the new year resolution wears off.
But new year resolutions don’t have to fall by the wayside. By taking some very simple steps you can help yourself keep those resolutions and find a healthier, happier you in 2017.
First, turn your resolutions into goals. Did you resolve to lose 30, 40, 50, even 100 pounds this year? While losing weight can be a great way to improve your health and is a good resolution, it’s not much of a goal. Break down your weight loss resolution into actionable steps that you can then turn into goals and habits. Here’s an example:
Resolution: Lose 40 pounds this year.
Now, think about the steps involved in losing weight. Write those steps out in a list like this:
- eat less sugar
- exercise more
- eat more vegetables
- eat fewer starches
- drink more water
- increase daily step count
- eat fewer calories
- learn about nutrition and fitness
Next, take each step listed above and write down practical ways you could achieve that step. These tasks should fit into your lifestyle. If you know there is absolutely no way you are going to give up your morning Starbucks, then don’t write it down. This list should only include things you are willing and able to do in order to achieve your goal.
Eat less sugar
- Replace sugar in coffee and tea with stevia.
- Stop drinking soda.
- Take health promoting snacks to work for the days when someone brings donuts.
- Read labels and intentionally avoid foods with added sugars.
- Park further away from buildings.
- Go for a walk at lunchtime.
- Do bodyweight exercises twice a week.
- Play softball/basketball/whatever sport you enjoy with the children in your life.
- Take up hiking, swimming, etc.
- Walk in place, or around your living room, while watching your favorite tv shows.
- Get up 15-30 minutes earlier to make time for a short morning walk.
- Plan a longer walk on the weekends.
- Experiment with activities you enjoyed as a child.
- Sit on the floor instead of a chair as often as practical.
- Work at a standing desk.
Eat more vegetables
- Add cooked, mashed veggies to meatloaf.
- Eat one salad each day.
- Try a new vegetable, or a new method of preparation each week.
- Have one meatless meal each week.
- Make homemade stews and soups with a lot of veggies .
Eat fewer starches
- Replace potatoes with turnips or rutabaga once or twice a week.
- Instead of serving meat, starch and veggie for dinner, serve meat, and two veggies a couple of nights each week.
- Trade in your morning cereal, toast, or bagel for chicken salad on lettuce, eggs with spinach and cheese, or any other protein/vegetable combination that you like and is quick to prepare.
- Use lettuce or flax-seed bread instead of bread for sandwiches.
- Try a Paleo bread or muffin recipe once or twice a month.
- Limit yourself to two pieces of fruit each day.
Drink more water
- Carry a water bottle.
- Replace your lunchtime soda with water and lemon, or even herbal or decaf teas with stevia.
- Create a habit of drinking a glass of water after a specific thing happens. Example, the first thing you do when you get home from work is drink a glass of water.
Increase daily step count
- Park as far away from the building as possible.
- Take the stairs instead of elevator whenever possible.
- Walk in place or around your living room while watching television.
- Walk over to speak to co-workers instead of sending an email or instant message.
- Offer to walk a friend’s dog on the weekends or after work.
- Set an alarm to go off every hour. When the alarm sounds take a short walk around your workspace.
- Take walking breaks at work.
Eat fewer calories
- Limit your consumption of chips, sweets, baked goods and candy to one or two days each week.
- Skip fast food and vending machines at work by packing your lunch and any snacks for the day at home.
- Learn to cook, or learn to cook new recipes.
Learn about nutrition and fitness
- Read a new fitness article from a trusted source once a week.
- Take a class on Paleo fitness.
- Listen to a nutrition or fitness podcast.
- Read a book or listen to an audio book by a fitness author you admire.
- Talk to friends, relatives, and co-workers who you have noticed getting healthier.
- Read labels.
- Spend one month learning everything you can about two different nutrition/diet theories.
- Learn the relationship between what you eat and fitness levels.
Now you’ve created a list of possible goals, and actionable steps that will lead you to fulfilling your resolution. Every week or so, add one to three of these actionable steps to your life. Keep it flexible, and make sure the steps you take fit into your lifestyle and mindset. If you’re uncomfortable talking to others about your health or fitness, then you wouldn’t try to talk to friends, relatives or co-workers about the steps they took to improve their health. If you are naturally very social and outgoing then maybe talking to others is the first habit you adopt. By turning your actionable steps into habits you’re laying the groundwork for change to a healthier lifestyle.
Keep in mind the above list is meant as an example only. Use your own health goals/resolutions to build a customized action list that fits into your circumstances and lifestyle.
The road to better health is built one step at a time.