Tips to keep resolutions on track
ALREADY having a hard time keeping your New Year’s resolutions? Research from the University of Washington in Seattle reveals almost 40 per cent of people who make New Year’s resolutions break them within two months.
The US National Institutes of Health says you’re more likely to stick to a change in your routine by taking one small step at a time — so break down your resolutions into bite-size chunks.
It’s helpful to envision your overall goal, but putting one foot in front of the other is easier than jumping in with two feet. Here are some simple tips to get you back on track.
First, keep your health on the forefront of your brain. You can do this by integrating health and fitness into your everyday life.
For example, how many times a day do you walk in and out of your house? Put an extra pair of gym shoes by the door. They’ll remind you that all you need to do is put on workout clothes, lace up and hit the gym or work out at home.
Speaking of working out at home, break down your workout plan into small parts. Instead of committing to an hour a day at the gym, make 30 minutes your goal. Reduce the length of your workout to make it less intimidating.
If you’re constantly snacking on unhealthy foods, that’s a problem. Try this: place an obstacle between you and those snacks. Line up water bottles on a shelf in the fridge, blocking fattening leftovers or desserts that you find yourself going back to multiple times a day.
You can do this in your pantry, too. Place water bottles in front of bags of chips, crackers, or cookies.
Then drink a full bottle before eating something unhealthy.
If you’re a nighttime eater, try this trick: Make eating less enticing by putting something on your hands, such as lotion. You can even paint your nails instead. You wouldn’t want to ruin your fresh manicure by digging into a bag of chips, and you wouldn’t want to eat candy that tastes like lotion.
Finally, focus on positive affirmations. Studies show that saying positive things to yourself helps improve your body image and self-esteem. Write out a positive affirmation on a sticky note. Place these notes on your bathroom mirror or someplace that you look at daily. Then, you are in essence training your brain to think positive thoughts about yourself. Below are tips for healthier eating habits and getting active: Start with a clean slate: Clean and organize your pantry and fridge by chucking the overly processed junk foods. Replace those sugary cereals, cookies and crackers with hydrogenated oils, bottled salad dressings and refined grains like white rice and pasta. Instead, stock up on healthy granolas and unsalted nuts and seeds; a good olive and avocado oil; a variety of vinegars; and whole grains such as quinoa, farro, bulgur, millet and brown rice. Evidence of your clean slate will help: Post “before” and “after” photos on social media to inspire yourself and your friends. Be truthful: It can be easy to fool yourself into thinking you’re eating healthy. Sure, there are carrots in that cake and peaches in that pie. But these foods don’t count toward the fruits and veggies you should eat every day. Cook more: Develop seven to 10 go-to healthy recipes and the shopping lists you need for them. Print them out or take photos of them with your phone. Let family members pick favourites. Aim to try a new recipe once a week or once a month. Try tweaking favourites with different ingredients. Reduce sodium: Experiment by seasoning food with herbs and spices such as basil, black pepper, cayenne, garlic, nutmeg, and ginger instead of salt. Include more seeds. Many seeds offer heart-healthy fats, fibre, protein and impor- tant nutrients such as magnesium and potassium. Keep a shaker with unsalted sunflower seeds, flax seeds, in your refrigerator to sprinkle over soups, salads, yogurt and oatmeal.
Stop throwing away fibre. A good portion of a fruit or vegetable’s fibre content – important for digestive health, heart health and to reduce risk of some cancers – can be found in its peel. So wash the outside but don’t remove the peel from potatoes and apples when cooking. (Only do this with edible peels – not pineapple, orange and avocado peels.)
Read the ingredient list: Many people focus on the package front and the Nutrition Facts label. A quick shortcut if you’re confused: Start by looking for foods with nutritious ingredients listed first, such as whole grains, fruits or vegetables.
Graze, don’t gorge: If you’re at a party with a tempting spread, try a small sample rather than a full portion. Balance these tantalizing snacks with healthier options such as fresh-cut fruits and vegetables, or have a healthy snack before you go so you’re not hungry when you arrive.
Help make healthy food more available: If you have a school-age child, team up with other parents to advocate for healthier cafeteria foods. At home, always have a stock of ready-to-eat healthy snacks on hand so they’re easy to grab and go when hunger strikes.
Stay hydrated. Start the day with a glass of water first thing in the morning. Look for healthier options than sugar-sweetened beverages such as sparkling water. Make water tastier by adding fruit to your ice cubes.
Get moving. While many of us focus on diet with our resolutions, remember the importance of getting active, too. It doesn’t take a lot of exercise to improve your heart health, help lose weight and just feel better. But it can help to keep track of your exercise time. The American Heart Association recommends an hour and a half a week of moderate physical activity for most adults each week (or at least 75 minutes of vigorous activity each week or a mix of both). Kids should get about an hour a day. — Heart.org
You’re more likely to stick to a resolution by implementing small changes.