Each January millions of us make ambitious New Year’s resolutions. We tell ourselves we’ll drop 20 pounds, go to the gym daily, give up carbs or sugar, eat clean, or stop drinking. We vow to stick with them, and then three weeks later when we’re right back at square one we beat ourselves up for failing.
Only 8 percent of people actually keep their New Year’s resolutions. Why? For starters, people typically set lofty, all-or-nothing goals with unrealistic expectations and no room for messing up. Sure you have the best intentions, but when you fail (i.e. eat a cookie or sleep in instead of going to the gym) you feel discouraged, beat yourself up and quit because keeping the resolutions is too difficult. Sound familiar?
Well there is a better way to lose weight, get in shape, and boost your health and wellbeing. Let go of the crazy goals that make you crazy. Instead take the slow, steady road by setting goals that are doable and making small, incremental lifestyle changes that you can keep.
The key to transformation is making small, deliberate habit changes. (For more on motivation and habit formation click HERE.) For example, pack your lunch and/or a healthy snack daily, park your car further away from your destination, join a walking meet-up group, or turn the lights out at 10 pm so you get 8 hours of sleep. Eventually these little tweaks will become lasting habits. You’ll create new neural pathways and the road to wellbeing will become easier and more automatic.
And rather than beating yourself up when you have a misstep allow for the occasional lapse – you’re human after all. And when you do lapse, practice self-compassion by offering yourself kindness rather than criticism. Forgive yourself and start fresh knowing that each day is a new beginning. Then re-evaluate what went wrong. Perhaps the goal was too hard or not meaningful enough.
Ready to invest in your body and boost your wellbeing? Here are 19 things you can do to nourish and nurture yourself and make 2019 your healthiest year ever:
1. Have a healthy breakfast
Yes, it’s still the most important meal of the day. Research shows that eating breakfast is associated with having a lower risk of diabetes, heart disease and obesity and lower levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol. Having a large meal in the morning can improve memory and concentration. It also boosts levels of ghrelin a hunger hormone that helps control appetite.
2. Eat Mindfully
Turn off the TV and your phone, slow down your eating speed and savor your meals without distractions. Use all of your senses to see, smell, taste and touch your food while listening to relaxing music. You’ll get in tune with your hunger and are more likely to enjoy your food more and eat less.
3. Sleep more
Getting adequate shut-eye is associated with weight loss, reduced stress, improved mood and less risk for diabetes and heart disease.
4. Eat soup
Research published in the journal Appetite found that people who started lunch with a bowl of soup at 20% fewer calories.
5. Increase caloric density
Caloric density is the number of calories per unit of food. The idea is to eat less foods that a calorically dense (i.e. contain a lot of fat and refined sugar) and more foods that are low in calories and high in water and fiber such as fruits and vegetables. For more on this topic, I recommend reading Barbara Rolls book, Volumetrics.
6. Pump iron
Hit the weights 2-3 times per week. Building muscle will raises your metabolism, can protect you from injury and even boost cognition.
7. Just say NO
Saying no is a way to say YES to yourself and can help you from overcommitting yourself.
8. Practice radical self-care
Taking care of your self isn’t selfish, it’s an act of self-preservation. For self-care suggestions click HERE.
Meditating for a few minutes every day is one of the best things you can do for your health and wellbeing. The benefits include: stress reduction, weight loss (for more on how that works click HERE), improved concentration, better cardiovascular and immune health, increased self-awareness and acceptance. Plus, you’ll slow aging.
10. Drink coffee
Research shows consuming a cup can increase your metabolism by 12 percent for up to three hours.
11. Ditch diet soda
While you may think it helps with weight loss, consuming diet soda actually is associated with weight gain, not loss. (Click HERE for more info)
12. Chew gum
Strange, but true chewing gum can increase metabolism and help you burn about 70 more calories per day.
13. Eat more MUFAs
Consuming MUFA (monounsaturated fatty acids) is associated with decreases in belly fat and can help reduce bad cholesterol levels which can lower your risk of heart disease and stroke. Good sources include avocados, nuts and fish.
Dehydration can trigger headaches, make you feel spacey and tired. In contrast, drinking water can prevent these problems. When ice cold it can increase your metabolic rate for an hour by about 30%.
15. Enjoy an afternoon snack
Eating an afternoon snack that’s high in fiber, complex carbs and contains protein can keep you fueled and help you avoid overeating at night. Try having a piece of fruit with a yogurt or a little cheese.
16. Cook dinner
Taking time to prepare meals from scratch will save calories and cash. Plan you meals ahead of time and go food shopping so that you can quickly whip up super without stress.
Turning off media, particularly prior to bedtime, can help you reduce stress and get a good night of sleep.
18. Be grateful
Not only will doing so increase your level of happiness, research suggests that being grateful can boost your overall well-being and health. For more on practicing gratitude click HERE.
19. You are enough
No matter how your day went or how you are feeling remind yourself that you are enough. Telling yourself, “I am enough” throughout the day will change your life. (For more on how to boost your self-worth click HERE.) Try it and let me know how it goes.
It’s not about perfect. It’s about effort. And when you implement that effort into your life. Every single day, that’s where transformation happens. That’s how change occurs. Keep going. Remember why you started.
May the next few months be a period of magnificent transformation.
I had Cream of Broccoli soup for lunch today, Dr. Ellen! :>) Thank you for this good list. I will follow.
Good for you, Tamara. Glad you are taking care of your body.