New Year’s resolutions are right around the corner, and there’s no better time to commit to a healthier you. Last year, over 20% of resolutions were to lose weight through healthier eating. And while prepping for the ultimate summer body is a lofty goal, the benefits of a healthy eating and fitness plan are a lot more than the new figure that goes along with it.
Eating choices can be ingrained habits that have been with us since childhood, and changing them can be difficult. So it’s important to remember that changing to a strict carbohydrate-free diet or eliminating sugar for a lifetime aren’t generally sustainable goals. Instead, focus on smaller dietary changes that can be incorporated into a permanent healthy lifestyle.
According to a study published in the American Journal of Health Promotion, making a small dietary change leads to not just initial weight loss, but continued weight loss.
Begin by recording your current eating habits, without changing anything. This can provide a good baseline for reflection and ideas for potential change.
From there, select one goal for your new healthy eating plan, like substituting a starchy side dish at dinner and lunch with a fruit or vegetable. Be careful not to select something you won’t be willing to stick with.
Finally, take some time to research and understand the benefits that come with your new eating plan. Attach positive outcomes to your goals. This will make you more committed to staying on track. For example, did you know healthy eating prevents illness? According to a study in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, increasing micronutrients, such as selenium, carotenoids, vitamins C and E, and zinc can help fight infections.
And diseases like depression can be improved with a healthier diet. Decreasing sugars and caffeine, adding healthy carbohydrates, and increasing foods rich in Vitamin B, all work to boost your mood. Chronic pain, and even addiction recovery, can also be treated through nutritious eating.
While you’re tackling a better diet, adding some fitness will go a long way in moving that scale dial downward.
Get a start on this by taking some selfies. Take a good look at where you’re starting. Selfies can also serve as motivation for change, and a motivation for long-term success. Seeing yourself shrink is powerful.
Like your new eating plan, start by choosing one manageable goal that you can stick with. For example, commit to exercise four days out of the week, and schedule a time to do it. Scheduling the time makes it a priority for you, and you’re more apt to stick to it if you aren’t just generally saying, “I’ll exercise sometime tomorrow.”
One of the easiest ways to commit to a new exercise routine is by making it as accessible as possible. Consider converting a space in your basement or an unused bedroom into a home gym. How you equip it is a personal choice. You can go as big as purchasing a treadmill or an elliptical machine, or you can equip it with multiple smaller items, such as dumbbells, an exercise ball, resistance bands, a yoga mat, and a balance trainer all for around $100.
Just as changing your eating habits improves your health, so too, can exercise. Obvious benefits have decreased the risk of heart disease and Type 2 diabetes, strengthening of your bones and muscles, and weight loss. Lesser known is the significant impact that exercise can have on your mental health. Physical fitness combats the symptoms of depression, anxiety, and memory loss, all while boosting your mood.
So, instead of joining the 20 percent of Americans who resolve this New Year’s to lose weight, take it a step further and resolve to give yourself a healthier body and mind. Embracing healthier eating and physical fitness habits will make 2018 a truly happy New Year! You can even get an early start and implement your plan today. Good luck!