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Today is January 2nd which means it’s time for New Year’s Resolutions and health goals! Every year around 45% of Americans make a New Year’s Resolution but only about 8% of us achieve them.
The secret to being successful when it comes to health resolutions is setting realistic goals. If your resolution is to lose X amount of weight and give up sugar completely, then you are setting yourself up to fail. Setting extremely high expectations is often a path to discouragement and disappointment.
We are all creatures of habit, so when you wake up one day and plan to completely change your diet, it is going to be hard! If you have not been exercising at all and decide to suddenly join an intense workout class, it is going to be hard!
Some people do well with extreme change, but I have found that most fail and end up right back where they started. Making health resolutions for the new year is a great idea, just make sure you are setting realistic goals. To get you started, here are 10 Healthy New Year’s Resolutions To Stick With In 2017:
- Drink More Water. Seriously, drinking more water is one of the easiest things you can do for your health. It costs nothing and it can help you feel better almost immediately. Aim to drink half of your body weight in ounces, every single day. If you weigh 140 lbs, then your goal should be to drink around 70 oz. per day. I recommend buying a large, insulated tumbler, that you can refill throughout the day. I have a 30 oz. stainless steel RTIC tumbler and a Yeti, they both work equally well to keep ice water cold. Another great way to drink more water is to make fruit infused water. This will help when you are craving something flavorful. I have this glass water bottle fruit infuser and I really love it. My favorite combo is strawberries, cucumber and lime, but the flavor combos are endless.
- Quit the soda habit. Whether it’s soda, diet soda, sweet tea, sports drinks or lemonade, quit the daily habit of sugary drinks. We know how bad soda and other sugary drinks are for us, and yet the 44 oz. fountain drinks are still finding their way into our hands. Drinking a soda everyday is associated with obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and heart disease. Recent studies have found that consumption of both sugar-sweetened and low-calorie sodas is associated with a higher risk of stroke. Check out this article to read about what happens to your body when you stop drinking soda. In the beginning, it can be hard to quit this habit. Your body is most likely addicted to the sugar and you will have some withdrawal symptoms. Be prepared with some healthier beverage options such as infused waters, homemade ice tea (with no sugar or very little added), hot tea with lemon or a teaspoon of added honey, a healthy smoothie, or kombucha.
- Get more sleep. The National Sleep Foundation recommends adults between the ages of 26-64, get 7-9 hours of sleep every night. Sleep is extremely important for our health. Sleep affects our mental alertness, memory, mood regulation, and physical health. According to Phyllis C. Zee, MD, PhD, professor of neurology and director of the Sleep Disorders Center at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, “there is also evidence that lack of sleep alters appetite regulation, which may lead to overeating or food choices that can also contribute to being overweight and obesity.” Make sure you get enough sleep by going to bed and waking up around the same time everyday. Try to avoid heavy/large meals and alcohol right before bed, exercise daily, keep your bedroom cool, quiet and dark, and take a hot shower or bath before bed. I really love to diffuse calming essential oils before bed and read for about thirty minutes to wind down.
- Exercise. I’ll be the first to admit that exercising is not my favorite activity, but it is necessary to live a healthy lifestyle. Set a goal to exercise five days a week for at least 30 minutes. This does not have to be anything complicated. You don’t need to join a gym or purchase any fancy equipment, just move! Go for a jog or a walk, do yoga, or run around in the back yard with your kids. Stop making excuses as to why you cannot exercise and just do something simple. Lately my favorite way to get an intense workout in is to do Tabata. Tabata is a high-intensity workout that has both fitness and weight loss benefits. What I love about Tabata is that it’s quick (20 minutes or less for beginners) but it offers maximum benefit in that short amount of time. The way it works is you do 20 seconds of exercise, then 10 seconds of rest, you repeat this for four minutes using four different exercises. For example: Do 20 seconds of push ups, then rest 10 seconds, repeat. Next, do 20 seconds of squats, rest for 10 seconds, repeat. Do mountain climbers for 20 seconds, rest for 10 seconds, repeat. Jump rope for 20 seconds, rest for 10 seconds, repeat. Finally, rest for an entire minute before starting a new cycle. Start with doing two 4 minute cycles and work your way up to four or five cycles. Each cycle will contain a new set of four exercises. You will want to download a free Tabata timer app on your phone, so that you don’t have to keep track of the intervals. This Tabata Stopwatch app is great and it counts down out loud, along with letting you know when to begin and stop. For quick and simple workout inspiration follow me on Pinterest.
- Eat more fruits and vegetables. We all should be eating 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables every single day, but studies show that only 1 in 10 Americans eat enough. Fruits and vegetables are extremely important for our health. Fruits and veggies are nutrient dense, which means a lot of nutrition is packed into a small serving. They are full of antioxidants and phytochemicals that you simply cannot get from other foods. Eating a diet high in fruits and vegetables may help reduce the risk of diseases such as heart disease, high blood pressure and cancer. Fruits and vegetables are high in fiber and low in calories, so you can fill up on them without worrying about your waistline. Get in more fruits and veggies by adding them to each meal of the day. Smoothies are a great way to pack them in and so are salads. Replace the sugary and salty snacks with fruit or cut up veggies. Getting 5-9 servings daily, on a regular basis can be challenging. As hard as I try to make sure my family eats enough, there are often days that we just don’t, so my family takes Juice Plus daily as well. “Juice Plus+ is whole food based nutrition, including juice powder concentrates from 30 different fruits, vegetables and grains. Juice Plus+ helps bridge the gap between what you should eat and what you do eat every day. Not a multivitamin, medicine, treatment or cure for any disease.” There is no substitute for eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, but taking Juice Plus can help fill in the gaps in your diet.
- Eat Less Processed and Fast Foods. Processed foods are so bad for our health. They are the reason so many people are overweight and sick. “Processed foods” are foods that have been chemically processed and made almost entirely from refined ingredients and artificial substances: Preservatives: Chemicals that prevent the food from rotting. Colorants: Chemicals that are used to give the food a specific color. Flavor: Chemicals that give the food a particular flavor. Texturants: Chemicals that give a particular texture. Try to eat more real food by cooking with simple ingredients like meats, fruits and vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, and dairy and eggs. Making a homemade, real food meal doesn’t have to be complicated. Use a slow cooker to make dinner while you’re at work, make sheet-pan dinners or one-pot meals that cook quickly and only dirty one pot or pan. Need ideas? Follow me on Pinterest. I also highly recommend these cook books for your kitchen: Real Food Slow Cooker Suppers: Easy, Family-Friendly Recipes from Scratch and 100 Days of Real Food, Fast and Fabulous
- Eat Less Sugar. Most of us eat way too much sugar on a daily basis, in fact the average American eats 22 teaspoons per day!! We should be eating less than 6 teaspoons per day. This article from Prevention magazine outlines just what sugar is doing to your body. Sugar addiction is a real problem and it can be hard to cut back. Here are my top 10 ways to help manage sugar cravings.
- Get More Vitamin D. Nearly 41 percent of American adults don’t get sufficient levels of this crucial nutrient. Vitamin D deficiency may raise your risk of heart disease, obesity, depression, diabetes, osteoporosis, and some cancer. The best way to get more Vitamin D is exposure to sunlight. Most experts recommend getting about 10-15 minutes daily of direct sunlight without wearing sunscreen, if you are fair to medium toned. If you have dark skin, you will likely need more time in the sun to make enough Vitamin D since your skin has more protection against the sun’s effects. You can also get Vitamin D from foods such as salmon, eggs and mushrooms. Most of the foods that contain Vitamin D only have small amounts, so it’s almost impossible to get what your body needs just from food.
- Reduce Alcohol and Caffeine Consumption. I love a good cup of coffee in the morning and I could easily enjoy 3-4 cups a day, but I find when I drink that much I get withdrawal headaches in the afternoon and feel like I don’t have any energy. Coffee has many health benefits (if it isn’t loaded with sugar) but you can have too much of a good thing. According to the “Journal of Food Science,” consuming less than 400 milligrams of caffeine per day is generally regarded as safe. That is about 3-4 cups (8 oz.) of drip coffee. I tend to drink my coffee fairly strong and use a french press to brew it, so 2 cups a day is my limit. Listen to your body to determine what is right for you. A rapid heart beat, anxiety, depression, insomnia, restlessness, frequent urination, headache or nausea can all be signs that you are drinking too much caffeine. Alcohol intake in moderation can have some health benefits but it’s all about balance. You want to make sure that the risks associated with alcohol don’t outweigh the benefits. In the U.S., one drink is usually considered to be 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1½ ounces of spirits (hard liquor such as gin or whiskey). Each delivers about 12 to 14 grams of alcohol.
- Eat The Right Fats. Fat is not the enemy when it comes to a healthy diet. You just need to make sure you are eating good fats. There are three types of fat in the food we eat. Unsaturated fat, saturated fat and hydrogenated fat (trans-fat). The healthiest fats are unsaturated fats, followed by saturated fats (in moderation). Both unsaturated fats and saturated fats are healthy because they are found naturally in foods. Fat is a part of every cell in your body, you need both unsaturated and saturated fats. Unsaturated fats are found in: seeds and nuts (natural nut butters, raw nuts and seeds), in avocados, fish, flax seeds, and olive oil. Saturated Fats are found in: coconut oil, real butter (not margarine), eggs, chicken and beef. Hydrogenated Fats (trans fats) are the fats that we need to avoid. They are man-made fats and are unhealthy because they have been chemically created. They do not occur naturally. These fats start out as a liquid, but a process called hydrogenation is used to change the chemical structure and make them solid at room temperature. This process turns healthy liquid fat into unhealthy solid fat, which can clog your arteries and put you at risk for high blood pressure, stroke and heart disease. These fats are cheap to make and they don’t turn rancid or spoil, so food companies use them in processed packaged foods. Hydrogenated fats are found in: margarine, fried foods, many store-bought sauces and seasonings, processed foods such as chips, crackers, imitation cheese, cakes, pastries and snack foods. Always read labels when purchasing these items. Don’t be fooled by the front of a package, food companies are allowed to claim “no trans fat” on the package, even if it still contains up to 0.5 grams per serving.
Healthy New Year’s Resolutions are great! Just don’t try to make all of these changes at once, instead work on them one at a time, so that it becomes your new habit. Get your partner or a friend to get on board with healthy changes so that you will have someone to motivate you and keep you accountable. Better yet, consider hiring a Certified Health Coach to help you meet your goals this year. Five Reasons You Need A Health Coach.