There’s something about a new calendar year that suddenly makes so many of us determine it is time to get serious about our health. We’ve all done it at some point… resolved to eat better, picked a new diet, set a weight loss goal or so forth. And statistically, over 60% of people don’t follow through on those resolutions of promises to themselves for even 60 days. When asked why, most people give up because they felt overwhelmed or weren’t seeing results as quick as they had hoped. You guys! Health is a lifelong venture! We can’t neglect our bodies for years on end and then think that a month or two of better choices will magically make things perfectly peachy. That’s just not how it works. But here’s what does work: simple, straight-forward, and sustainable solutions that are implemented consistently. Rome was not built in a day, and I promise you that if you try to overhaul everything at once with no game plan and unrealistic goals, you are only setting yourself up for disappointment. So start small. Don’t over-complicate it. Understand that it’s going to take work, but if you stick to it and build on it week after week, your future self will thank you.
So here are my tips for getting started. If even these things sound overwhelming to take on all at once, take them one step at a time. But take the steps.
- Take a deep breath. Know that you are worthy of the life you desire, and your path to getting there will be so much more feasible if you believe you can do it and you create a plan.
- Drink your water. Take your body weight and divide that number in half. This is the number of ounces of water you should be drinking each and every day. (example: 150 pounds = 75 ounces of water)
- Get rid of the temptations lurking in your pantry and fridge. If the junk isn’t there, you can’t eat it. Buying these items when you’re trying to eat better is a recipe for regret.
- Plan ahead. Plan your meals for the week, so there’s no guessing or “in the moment” lapses because you don’t know what you have to eat. Very few people think of healthy things on the fly… it’s much easier to fall back into old habits of crappy comfort foods or ordering take out when you’re hungry and don’t have a plan.
- Prep in advance. This step plays hand in hand with planning ahead. Prep your meats and veggies over the weekend to make weeknight meals quick. For breakfast, prep your smoothies ahead, or make an egg scramble with veggies for quick, protein rich start to your day. Work outside the home? Make salads in a jar or a pot of soup. Planning and prepping ahead of time will save you time and help you stay on track.
- Move more. We all know that exercise is essential to a healthy lifestyle. But if you haven’t been to the gym in years, don’t kid yourself about suddenly showing up 5 days a week for an hour each day. Instead, build more movement into your current routine, such as parking at the far end of the lot, taking the stairs at work, setting hourly timers to get up and jog in place or do some jumping jacks to get the blood pumping… there are so many ways to build exercise and movement into your nooks and crannies. Commit to an intentional and focused workout at least once per week, and then build up from there.
Have some habits you know you need to break? Every little bit counts. Even if you only replace one soda a day with a glass of water, you are really improving your calorie and nutrient intake. If you eat fast food every day for lunch, try replacing that half of the time with better quality foods you bring from home. After a week or two of this being your new normal, cut it back a bit further. Keep going little by little until these habits are replaced with better ones. Baby steps add up to big strides when we stick with it. Biting off more than we an chew only to throw in the towel a few weeks later isn’t going to help you reach your goals and will only leave you feeling flustered and frustrated. And keep in mind, these changes will not only have a positive impact on your health, but also on the health of your entire family.