Set Yourself Up For Success in 2017
It’s that time of year again- following the holiday season, we’ve likely gained a few pounds, been more stressed and definitely more tired over the past six weeks. Many of us are ready for a jumpstart into a healthier lifestyle and feel the need to make other positive changes. I’ve been noticing that a lot of people are against the idea of resolutions, but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having a few – because if we can stick with those changes and goals, we can improve on ourselves and become happier within ourselves.
We make resolutions because we notice that there is something we’d like to change, and use January 1st as a convenient starting line. Most resolutions fail, however, because we don’t really understand how reach success in them. And we also often make our goals way too lofty and unrealistic. Instead of saying – "I want to lose 50lb in 2017", start by saying “I will lose 5lb in January”, continuing to set those short-term goals that will help you reach the long-term one.
For resolutions to work, we need to understand what motivates us, and set a plan for when obstacles do arise. The key is to work hard to go against what is natural for you; it takes discipline and trusting the process. To reach your goal, you are changing your behavior, which is no easy feat.
Let’s say your goal is to lose weight, so you start by setting a short-term goal: I will lose 5lb this month. Now, you’re out with friends and the table orders guacamole to share. You grab yourself 2 tbsp (1 tbsp is about the size of your thumb) and a few chips. Normally, you’d go back for seconds – I mean, you were taught from a young age that no food can go to waste! But that extra serving isn’t going to help you reach your goal. So, instead you reinforce the new behavior not to go back for seconds. You reset. Realistically, even if you’re starving, having that small serving will hold you over until your main course arrives; your aim is to reprogram your brain to recognize this, and eventually it will become second nature.
Below are some small habit change recommendations to help you reach those larger goals:
Routine: Fall in love with your routine! This will help create new behaviors and new mindsets. What you look at now as a change from your norm will become automatic and your new norm. Repeat small behavior changes and they will become second nature, leading to your results. It just takes time and persistence!
For eating healthier, Meal Prep: Set aside 1 hour every Sunday for meal prep.
- Roast Vegetables, such as asparagus, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, carrots, potatoes and butternut squash. Make a whole big batch and stick them in your lunch salads, or mix with cauliflower rice at dinner and top with an egg.
- Bake chicken. Can add this to salads as well, but also just to have with a side of the roasted veggies and topped with some salsa for a low calorie, nutritious flavor (compared to something not so healthy like BBQ sauce).
- Cut up veggies. Have broccoli, carrots, celery, pepper cut up and easily accessible, so you will grab this for a snack (maybe with a few tbsp. of hummus) instead of cheese, crackers or chips.
For meeting your workout goals, plan your workouts for the week
Focus on going to the gym the same days each week (i.e. every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday), instead of saying 3x/week, and write on your calendar what you’ll be doing each of those days so you don’t have to think about it the day of. If you leave time to think about it before the workout or during, you are less likely to do it! And even on those days you don't feel like going, just go walk on the treadmill for 20 minutes; 9 times out of 10, you'll end up working out for longer than you think!
For reducing stress and anxiety, and improving sleep, start by set a time each day to focus on this; let's say, 8AM. Even if you only have 1 minute, start at that set time and just get in whatever you can!
- Yoga poses can ease anxiety. Child’s pose is a great one. One of my all-time favorites is “Leg’s Up the Wall” pose where you lie with your legs against the wall and your butt near the base of the wall; you can fold a blanket to prop under your sacrum and low back.
- Meditate. Breath in for 5 seconds, hold for 5 seconds, breath out for 5 seconds, hold for 5 seconds; repeat. If you have a some more time, I love the Headspace app; although most are 10 minutes (a good goal to get to!), they do have a 3-minute meditation.
- Repeat a positive mantra, like “It’s going to be a great day.” Although this seems silly to some, repeating positive phrases like these can truly change your mindset.
I also recommend removing push notifications from your phone to help de-clutter your mind. We’re so overstimulated and this is a good way to reduce that.
Check in with yourself each week, so you can keep making positive moves towards your goals.
I recommend making 1-3 goals and break them down into smaller, short-term goals. Maybe choose one that is food-centered, one exercise-centered and one career-centered. For example – if your goal is to lose 50lb this year, make the goal to lose 5lb in the month of January. To do that, review your current eating habits and find a few small changes you could make; for instance, avoid eating after dinner, include vegetables at two meals or more daily, or avoid drinking sugary drinks (like juice and soda).
I wish you all the best of luck, and a wonderful 2017! Always here if you need me!