The holiday season is a time for traditions and gatherings with loved ones, friends, and colleagues. The dinner table is generally the meeting spot, where all enjoy special meals, sweet treats, and good cheer.
At the start of the New Year, we realize that over the past month, our fitness routine and healthy eating were put on the back burner, so we resolve to get on track.
The top two New Years’ resolutions are to get in shape and lose weight. Innately, we know that adopting a healthier lifestyle makes us feel better. Studies have proven that living a healthy lifestyle can reduce our risk for disease and it can also improve our health and ability to function independently in later life.
With this in mind, we aim to exercise regularly and eat a nutritious diet at the start of each New Year, and for the first couple weeks of January we are motivated to get going. By the first of February, however, many of us are discouraged and have already give-up on our goals. In fact, research shows that only 8% of people achieve their new year’s resolutions.
New Year's resolutions are extremely hard to keep, especially when we attempt to abruptly break life-long habits. In fact, no matter when we decide to make a change, or how strongly we are motivated, adopting a new, healthy habit, or breaking an old, not so healthy one, can be difficult. The good news is that even though we may struggle or give-up completely, research suggests that any effort we make is worthwhile, and that making a New Year's resolution, for example, may boost our chances of eventual success.
I believe that if we truly want to reach our goals we will do what’s necessary to succeed. As French aviator and author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry put it, “A goal without a plan is just a wish” and planning is the key to achieving our goals.
As we begin a new year and embark on our resolutions, it’s important to remember two things. The first is that we CAN accomplish what we set out to do. Once we've set our goal, we must design our course (plan of action) and follow it. Secondly, it’s important to realize that change doesn’t happen over night. Change takes time and every little step counts. Every step in the right direction brings us that much closer to our goal.
To improve chances for success it’s important to set realistic goals. For example, a person who has been sedentary most of their life and now wants to exercise more might start with taking the stairs more often, or parking the car further from the door and walking, and eventually, working up to a more ambitious goal. The same can be said for weight loss. Cutting out all unhealthy foods overnight can lead to failure, but a less drastic approach of cutting back on a daily junk food, or adding a cup or two of vegetables to dinner a few times week, allows for a gradual change in the right direction. This approach is much more sustainable in the long-term.
In today’s fast-paced world, one reason changing our lifestyle habits can be difficult is the issue of time. Quick and convenient (processed) foods end up taking the place of healthy, nourishing foods when we’re on the go. These less-than-ideal food choices put us on the vicious cycle of experiencing low energy, weight gain, and potential health problems, all of which make us more likely to become sedentary. Most people agree that when they start eating better, they notice increased energy, and actually feel more like exercising. Moving more supports healthy brain function and promotes positive thinking, which can encourage us to stick with our goals.
With time being an issue for many, we have to consider common situations we often find ourselves in, and how we can make better choices.
Although we have busy days, it doesn’t mean we have to forgo a healthy dinner. With a little planning, and a crock-pot, we can have a home-cooked meal waiting for us at the end of the day. When everything is prepped the night before (if time doesn’t allow in the morning), we can come home to a delicious meal that is ready to serve. When we do have time to cook, batch cooking and planning for meals later in the week will free up some time. By simply doubling a favourite recipe and freezing it in meal-size portions, healthy and quick choices will always be available. Making an extra large dinner and refrigerating the leftovers for lunch or dinner the next day frees up time for a walk, the gym, or a little downtime.
Many of us spend several hours in our vehicles every week running errands, stuck in traffic or shuttling kids back and forth between activities. If we don’t plan ahead, it is easy to fall into the trap of circling through the closest drive through when hunger strikes. Waiting until we’re famished to eat something most always lead to bad decisions, but planning ahead by carrying healthy snacks helps keep us on track. Foods that are easy to prepare, and convenient to take on the go include:
· Carrot and cucumber sticks with hummus or other healthy dip
· Sliced apples with almond butter
· Healthy smoothie
· Trail mix or nutritious energy bars
· Raw nuts and seeds
· Sandwiches or wraps
By setting realistic goals and putting in a little effort and organization, we CAN achieve our New Year’s resolutions and develop new, healthy and lasting habits.
This is Janice, inspiring change