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How to Prepare for a Happier & Healthier New Year

Shoes food and fruit image

Let's talk about resolutions! The new year is right around the corner, whos to say we can't start planning for a healthier new year?  Some of the most common goals set by Americans are exercising more, losing weight and getting organized. In some cases, all three of those goals coincide. You have to schedule your days to make time for health behavior changes, and when you make time for physical activity and a clean lifestyle, weight loss is more likely to happen. The key is making sustainable changes that can help you beat the odds of over half the US population that does not succeed in completing their New Year's goals. According to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology, only 46% of people who made New Year’s resolutions were successful. But don't let that get you down, with the right tools, you can achieve your goals. Even if you consider yourself a non-resolver, a person who does not make New Year's resolutions, you can have a successful year.

Time to sweat!

Physical activity looks different for everyone. And for those that do not naturally like to exercise, it can seem like a tedious task. But regardless, it is important to include in our daily lives. If exercising more is something you wish to achieve in 2020, set a specific goal. Use the SMART goal framework to craft a better goal that is easier to measure. SMART 

  • Specific: Clearly state the resolution you plan to accomplish. For example: Take kickboxing classes or going on a walk after dinner.
  • Measurable: Quantify your resolution if possible. For example, I will go to yoga 3 times a week
  • Attainable: You can set your ambitious goals but make sure you break them down into attainable steps. For example: If you need to lose 80 pounds but haven't had success with losing more than 10, then make yourself an attainable goal of losing 20 pounds. Giving yourself the ability to meet your goals in a gradual manner helps you avoid discouragement along the way.
  • Relevant:  Make sure your priorities and goals aline. Make sure the goals you set are important to you and only you and that there is value in achieving that goal.
  • Time-sensitive:  Give yourself a time-frame to achieve a goal. A deadline will instill some urgency and an end date to celebrate your success.

Proper Fuel

    Physical activity has two parts. First is committing to an activity you enjoy, whether it is taking a group exercise class, going on a bike ride or signing up for a local 5K race. The second part is fueling the body appropriately, especially for those that are trying something new, that the body is not used to. Consider your body as your vehicle. When you workout you got to keep the engine running, make sure to fuel your body by eating foods and drinking fluids at the right time. The American College of Sports Medicine says, “Adequate food and fluid should be consumed before, during, and after exercise to help maintain blood glucose concentration during exercise, maximize exercise performance, and improve recovery time. Athletes should be well hydrated before exercise and drink enough fluid during and after exercise to balance fluid losses.”

    Before exercising:

    • Hydrate with water
    • Eat healthy, complex carbohydrates such as whole-grain toast or cereal like oatmeal.
    • Avoid high fats and high protein, these foods digest slower and take away oxygen and energy-delivering blood from your muscles.

    During Exercise:

    • Keep hydrated with small, frequent sips of water.
    • No need to eat if your workout is for an hour or less. But for endurance activities like marathon running, 50 to 100 calories every half hour of carbohydrates and natural sources of sugar from fruit is recommended.

    After Exercising:

    • Drink water and electrolytes to replenish lost salt and fluids from sweating.
    • Eat carbohydrates and protein - the main fuel for your muscles. Help recover and repair your muscles by eating within 30-60 minutes after you have finished a workout.
    • Consume probiotics. Probiotics help in the process of recovering from endurance activities by increasing antioxidant absorption. Since free radicals are abundant after training, it's important that athletes meet their needs with high amounts of antioxidants in recovery. When eating probiotics during recovery it promotes extra free-radical fighting just when you need it the most.

    Feeling Slim

    Number #2 on the list of resolutions is weight loss. After all the holiday parties and festive treats, I think everyone can benefit from cleaner eating. It is important when thinking of the changes you want to implement to make sure to:

    • Stay positive. You got this!
    • Try not to make big/quick changes. You do not want to burn out in the first week with an unrealistic diet plan.
    • Build on a smaller change. Start small and slowly add to one change. What's the rush! You have 365 days to complete it.
    • Allow room for error. If you're aiming for perfection, you are setting yourself up for failure. Remember, we want this to be a continuous behavioral change, not a quick fix. That requires patience with yourself and forgiveness when things do not go as planned.

    There are lots of trendy diets that are marketed towards quick weight loss. Ultimately, you want to find a style of eating that provides your body/mind with nourishment and is properly portioned out. So ditch the juice cleanses and long term fasting for now. Let's keep it simple. Foods to remove:

    • Sugar: baked goods, candy, added sugar in sauces, spreads, dressings
    • Alcohol: All alcohol, beer, wine, liquor
    • Processed carbs: Anything packaged food, crackers, chips, junk foods
    • Fast food: Fried food, gas station snacks or concession stand foods
    • Dairy: Butter, milk, cheese

    All of these food groups cause inflammation to the body. In removing these trigger foods, naturally, the body should feel better and possibly shed some pounds. Keep in mind these recommendations are based on personal experiences. Those that have additional health concerns should consult with their medical practitioner before adopting any new diet. Foods to include:

    • Vegetables: broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, arugula, carrots, kale, eggplant, beetroot, Swiss chard, spinach, ginger, mushrooms, and zucchini
    • Roots and tubers: potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, carrots, squash, and turnips
    • Fermented vegetables: kimchi, sauerkraut, tempeh, miso, Kashaya Probiotics
    • Fruitcoconut, grapes, bananas, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, kiwi, pineapple, oranges, mandarin, lemon, limes, passionfruit, and papaya
    • Sprouted seeds: chia seeds, flax seeds, sunflower seeds, and more
    • Healthy fats: avocado, avocado oil, coconut oil, and extra virgin olive oil
    • Herbs and spices: all herbs and spices
    • Beveragesbone broth, teas, coconut milk, nut milk, water, and kombucha
    • Nuts: raw nuts, including peanuts, almonds, and nut-based products, such as nut milk

    These foods help to improve your general digestive health and will aid long-term in your fitness. Properly fueling your body is not only important for looking fit but also in stabilizing the gut microbiome and feeling good on the inside.

    Tidy Up

    Time to get organized! While it's great to have goals, it is critical to write them down.

    • Goals can be easy to forget. Especially if you do not share them with others. It is easy to get distracted and forgetful when you jump back into work after the holidays, not remembering what you said when the ball dropped at midnight.
    • Writing down your goals helps you clarify what exactly you want to achieve. This forces you to be precise with your words and decisions.
    • Serve as a guide. By writing down resolutions, you can map out options you have in pursuing health behavior changes.
    • Writing goals and displaying them somewhere that you will see daily. This reminds us of our progress so far and can be a nice feeling when looking back on what was achieved when you reach the end of the year.

    Here are a few ways you can document your resolutions:

    • Write them in a personal journal
    • Type up an email to yourself
    • Store list of goals in the notes section of your phone or some other note-taking tool
    • Print and tape to the fridge, bathroom mirror, etc.

    Ready, Set, Go!

    There is less than a week until the New Year. Take a moment over these next few days to reflect on some of your highs and lows of 2019. It might even help to do a brain dump. Write down all your thoughts onto paper as you might dump the contents of a laundry basket onto the floor. This will clear (mental) space for new experiences and goal setting into 2020. Now you have all the tools to start your year on a healthy note. Ready, Set, Go! Healthy New Year!