2014 has come and gone and it’s now time to begin anew. New Year’s is an exciting time to think about where you’re at in life, renew your goals and resolve to do better.
Lots of New Year’s Resolutions will be made this week, many of which will involve diet and exercise. In fact, the #1 New Year’s Resolution in the U.S. is lose weight. Here’s a sad statistic, though: only 8% actually achieve their New Year’s Resolutions.
I hate the thought that someone reading this will be in the exact same place next year. I’ve been there before. Let’s not set ourselves up for failure again. So step off of the scale. Stop looking into fad diets. Turn off Dr. Oz. This New Year, I propose we all go back to the basics.
Become more active.
Harley Pasternak recently gave an interview for Yahoo fitness and if you haven’t read it yet then I highly recommend it. I believe he hit the nail on the head when he said this:
“I always say that Americans are working out too much, but are underactive. They are sitting all day, driving everywhere, ordering in lunch, and getting automated coffee machines next to their desks so they don’t have to go anywhere to get it. Then they are driving to a spin class, sitting on a stationary bike for 50 minutes, and thinking that is enough activity. When it should be skip the spin, and bike or walk to get your coffee. Park a couple blocks away when you get to work. Get off the subway one stop earlier. All those little things are exponentially more impactful than those super high intensity bouts of cardio two to three times a week.”
Guys, it’s time to get up and move. Lace up those sneakers. Take the stairs. Stop circling the parking lot for the closest spot. Walk an extra lap around the mall when you’re out shopping. These little things add up.
If you need a little motivation then I highly recommend getting a fitness watch such as a Fitbit or a pedometer. It’s great to be able to keep track of your activity and a nice reminder to get up and move if you’re short on reaching your goal steps.
Pleeeeeaasssee find a physical activity that you really love and that makes you feel good about yourself! Commit to that. So if you hate the gym then don’t get a gym membership this week. You’ll eventually stop going. If you really don’t like running then don’t set a goal to run in a 5k this year. You may not follow through with it. And if you do, then what?
Instead, decide this year to do something that makes you happy! Hop on your bike. Go for a hike. Play your favorite sport. Take a walk after dinner. Do whatever floats your boat… there’s something out there for everyone.
Pay attention to what you drink.
Soda is full of chemicals, sugar and wasted calories and has absolutely no nutritional value. Juice lacks the fiber that whole fruit provides to help make you feel full. You really don’t need to have an alcoholic beverage every single night. These things are adding to your waistline. Cutting back on these drinks is a small change that can yield big results, trust me.
Water is your friend. There are so many studies out there that support the benefits of drinking it and staying hydrated. So grab your favorite water bottle, fill it up, and keep it with you wherever you go.
Go to your doctor and get a physical.
I’m also going to suggest something crazy here: take your doctor’s advice.
It’s all about the food.
You don’t need to cut out food groups, villainize a specific nutrient or deprive yourself to have a healthy diet. Again, back to basics.
Choose whole grains instead of refined. Pick lean meats instead of fatty cuts. Put down the salt shaker. Eat whole fruit instead of juice. Understand portion sizes and pay attention to them. Listen to your body and eat intuitively. When you are grazing in the kitchen, are you actually hungry? Or are you just thirsty? Or bored/sad/stressed?
Quit buying junk food. If it’s not in your kitchen then you won’t end up eating it at 11pm when you’ve got the munchies (hey, we’ve all been there). If I buy a container of Oreos then I’m going to eat a handful (or more) of cookies every single day until that container is gone. If I have no cookies at home but decide to buy one when I’m out and about then it’s not a big deal.
And the key play here: plan ahead. Set aside a time during the week to plan out your meals and stock your fridge with healthy options. If dinner is waiting for you in the crock pot after work then you won’t hit up the drive-thru on your way home.
Decide what’s important to you.
We all have things going on in our life that prevent us from leading a healthier lifestyle. Are these justifications, or are they excuses? Only you can answer that. But I know when I ask myself that question, they are mostly just excuses.
When I was rehabbing my knee late last year, the only type of exercise I could tolerate was swimming. I don’t like swimming. The pool hours didn’t coordinate with my work schedule at all. Some days I had 0 energy after working all day and my long commute. Yet for 5 weeks, I got up at 4am and swam before work 2-3 days every week. It sucked and I complained about it, but I did it. Why? Because I wanted to get some sort of physical activity. I wanted my knee to get better. It was important to me. It made me realize how my fitness goals fall to the wayside when they really aren’t important enough to me.
What is important to you in 2015? If you made a new year’s resolution related to health and fitness then I hope this year will be the year where you can get back to basics and make healthy changes that stick. No one wants to be standing back at square one in 365 days.
Nothing I have said here is revolutionary. But as an RD, I have conversations with people about weight loss and find that basic exercise and nutrition recommendations often go ignored. Life is already complicated enough… eating well and exercising doesn’t have to be.
I hope you have a fantastic 2015 <3