Happy New Year! I hope that you had a wonderful holiday season, filled with quality family time, delicious food, and lots of relaxation. I’m sure that most of us (including myself) are still feeling a little sluggish after the holidays and trying to find the motivation to get back into an old or start a new healthy routine.
A new year means you have a blank 365-page book to fill. It is up to you what you want to write on those pages. Forget about the “new year new me” mentality; you’re already probably pretty great and don’t need to totally change the person that you are. Working out 7 times a week, drinking green smoothies all day, or giving up cake forever is certainly not realistic, or necessarily healthy. Rather, think about how you can make small changes to your current lifestyle that will allow you to be the healthiest and happiest version of yourself.
Here are my top 5 tips for starting 2017 on a healthy note:
Ditch the leftover holiday treats
Of course during the holidays it is okay, and even encouraged to indulge in your favourite festive treats. However, with the large amounts of food served at multiple events, it is likely that you’ve been enjoying these treats over the past couple of weeks. You’ve had your fix, and now it’s time to part ways with this food (despite the separation anxiety that may ensue). Not having this kind of food in your house will prevent the temptation to reach for it. Encourage your office to do the same if they are still offering treats in the lunchroom. To prevent waste, you can donate unopened packages to a local food bank.
Set SMART new year's resolutions
Very few people actually stick to their new year's resolutions. Why? Because they are usually overambitious and unrealistic with their expectations. This is why it is impossible to get a treadmill at the gym in January, but no problem in March. The key to setting goals that you’ll actually stick to is to make them SMART- specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. Take your schedule, preferences, health, physical limitations, and readiness to change into account.
Not a SMART goal: I will eat more vegetables
SMART goal: I will eat 1 extra serving (1/2 cup or 1 cup leafy greens) of vegetables at dinner, 5 times a week, beginning on Monday.
By making a goal SMART, you have a clear direction of how and when you will accomplish that goal, with a measurable outcome.
Forget fad diets/cleanses/quick fixes
Maybe you are carrying a little extra holiday weight or feel like you haven’t properly nourished your body in a while. The diet and supplement industry know this and use it to their advantage to push their products onto us, promising a “body reset”, “detoxification”, or “20 pound weight loss in 1 week”. The reality is, there is absolutely no quick fix that will simultaneously make you lose fat, tone your abs, clear your acne, reduce cravings, and make you look 10 years younger. A healthy kidney and liver is all you need to rid your body of “toxins”. In addition, fad diets and cleanses are only temporary ways of “eating” that leave most customers feeling hangry, void of energy, and running to the bathroom every few minutes. Whatever weight may be lost will very likely be put back on once you resume a regular diet. If you are the rare few that feel better when on a cleanse, it is likely because you have cut out processed foods, high in saturated fat, sodium, and refined sugar, and replaced it with lean protein and vegetables (i.e. following evidence-based nutrition recommendations).
What you can do is ensure that you’re eating wholesome, nutrient-dense, fresh foods, with a plant-based focus. I’m talking about fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, nuts, and legumes. By eating this way, I can almost guarantee that you’ll feel properly nourished, energetic, and overall well.
I love the quote “fail to plan, plan to fail”. It may sound harsh, but it couldn't be truer when it comes to meal planning and prepping. How many times have you left work hungry, sat in traffic while thinking about what the hell you’re going to make for dinner, arrived home to an empty fridge or are too tired and hungry to prepare something, and then order a pizza? I am even guilty of this, and am making it my intention for the new year to consistently (whenever possible) plan and prep my meals in advance. A few key tips to meal prepping:
- Have multiple sizes of containers
- Set aside a few hours on Sunday to choose your recipes, grocery shop, and prepare ingredients
- Once you’ve chosen your recipes, compile a grocery list. Separate headings to correspond with the departments of the grocery store, so that you can shop in a logical and timely manner
- Write out your sample menu and place it on your fridge. It is useful to make notes about defrosting, cooking times, equipment needed, marinating, etc.
- Do all of your chopping in advance so that when it comes to making the meal, there is little prep time left
- Choose recipes that you and your family will enjoy, use simple and in-season ingredients, and are appropriate for your skill level in the kitchen
Meal prepping takes time to master, and there is a lot more to learn. Registered Dietitians are your go-to source for learning about planning and preparing meals that suit your lifestyle, preferences, budget, and dietary restrictions!
Find your motivation
Having a specific motivation to adapt a new or stick to an old healthy lifestyle routine may increase your chances of success. Dig deep and ask yourself, why am I doing this? If you want to lose weight, is it to look good in your wedding dress, is it to have more energy during the day, or is it to help manage your knee pain? Whatever your motivation is, keep a visual of it in a visible place, so that you are constantly reminded of what you are working towards. If you skip your workout, order pizza for dinner, or have an extra cocktail at a party, don’t think that you’ve totally sabotaged your health journey. Things are always going to get in the way, or some days we just don’t feel like it. There is no straight path to the finish line, but rather swirly curves that show our downfalls and progress. Always remember what your main motivation is, get back on track, and strive to be your healthiest and happiest self.
I look forward to helping you all reach your health goals this year, whether it is through reading my blog, making my recipes, or booking an appointment with me. Wishing you all the best for your healthiest year yet!