January has come and gone. For most of us this means that New Year’s resolutions are the furthest thing from our minds. There are a million reasons why New Year’s resolutions fail. Sometimes we set impractical goals, sometimes we fail to plan, and sometimes everyday life refuses to move over and make room for new lifestyle choices. The important thing to do is start off by giving yourself credit. There is no point in beating yourself up for not sticking things out. The main thing is that you have acknowledged the need to change, and that is half the battle. Lifestyle change is never easy, so don’t worry if you have faltered a little. Simply take a deep breath and ready yourself to jump back on that proverbial horse. Every day is a good day to start living a healthier lifestyle. So if you set some health goals this year that just didn’t stick, prepare yourself for a resolution reboot. Spring has sprung, the warm weather is upon us, and now is the perfect time to lace up your gym shoes and get back in the game. Here are some tips to help you on your way.
- Focus on health, not weight loss. We all want to look swimsuit ready for summer, but following fad diets and taking extreme measures is not only an ineffective strategy, but is also stressful and unhealthy. Extreme weight loss methods are often difficult to stick to long term. This means that any weight that is lost will likely creep back on. This can be both physically and emotionally damaging. It is the ultimate Band-Aid solution to a much deeper problem. Focusing on overall health helps us to better pinpoint and address our bad habits. Rather than adhering to a strict diet, try focusing on gradual change that can be maintained long term. Increase vegetable intake by adding a salad to your typical lunch, cut back on sweets by replacing them with fruit, switch from refined grains to whole grains, and try going vegetarian once a week in an effort to cut back on animal products. A healthy lifestyle shouldn’t feel miserable. Try not to revamp your life in such a way that eliminates everything you are familiar with and enjoy. The best way to create healthy habits that last is to “health up” the everyday choices that you build your life around in the first place. In time, living a healthy lifestyle will lead to a healthy weight.
- Try signing up for a new class or activity. Incorporating more physical activity into our lives can sometimes feel a bit like a chore. If you dread going to the gym, or find that you sometimes lack the self-motivation to stick to a routine, then it might be time to try something new. Rather than requiring yourself to spend thirty minutes on the treadmill, try joining a softball team or an active social group, find a running club, or give Zumba class a try. Exercise doesn’t have to mean structure and routine. Exercise is anything that gets the heart pumping and the muscles working. This can mean chasing the kids around the park, walking around the neighborhood with some friends, biking through the local forest preserve, or playing tennis with your spouse on Saturday mornings. If your typical fitness routine feels mundane, and you haven’t been taking advantage of that gym membership you signed up for back in January, then it might be time to change things up a bit. Mix it up and get moving again.
- Create SMART goals. SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Rewarding, and Time Bound. When setting goals it is important to try to keep the SMART model in mind. SMART goals are easier to stick to because they help us to pinpoint the specific steps we will be taking as we create change in our lives. They allow our progress to be measured, require us to stick to a specific time frame, and are positive and rewarding. Rather than saying “I will exercise more” try saying “I will walk around my neighborhood for 30 minutes after work every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for the next 3 weeks.” This provides you with a game plan to help you reach your goal, rather than just a broad idea of what you would like to achieve.
- Be patient. No one is perfect. All of us have days where we skip a workout or we eat something that leans more on the unhealthy side. That’s okay. Every day healthy habits are not broken by the occasional splurge or lack of discipline. Healthy habits are not about perfection. Every day is an opportunity to move towards a healthier version of yourself. Be proud of the healthy changes you make and give yourself credit for all levels of progress. Health is a lifelong journey, so be patient and enjoy the ride.
Sure New Year’s Day was four months ago, but that doesn’t mean New Year’s Resolutions have to wait until next year. Every day is a good day to build healthy habits and focus on overall well-being. Simply set some goals and reboot your resolution today. Happy health!