It’s the start of the new year and millions of people have resolved to finally reach their health goals. Physical health goals are some of the most rewarding goals a person can work towards, but it is easy to become discouraged. Results can be slow, exercise can be uncomfortable, and food cravings can be overbearing. Oddly enough, the key to finally achieving your health wishes may just be to go easier on yourself.
What is Your “Wellness Why”?
Nourished by Nutrition addresses the concept of a “wellness why.” A wellness why is exactly what it sounds like. Why are you striving for wellness? Most people who make new year’s resolutions to exercise more and eat better do so in hopes of losing weight or gaining muscle tone. While these results can be very beneficial, if physical appearance is your only motivator for a healthy lifestyle, you may find yourself falling off the band wagon quickly. Healthy living should not just be about outward beauty, but also about your overall wellbeing. Giving your body all the nutrients it needs, avoiding overly processed foods, and exercising regularly will improve the quality of your life, and likely even elongate your life. A healthy lifestyle will also clear your mind, increase your ability to focus, increase your energy, alleviate stress, and produce more endorphins. When you realize that you simply feel better, you may start worrying less about what you look like.
Befriend People with Similar Goals
Having an exercise buddy hugely increases your chances of regularly working out. Knowing that someone is counting on you to show up to the gym or join them on a morning run is much more likely to get you on your feet. Befriend people that can teach you new exercises and share healthy recipes with you, or find groups of people that enjoy the same types of recreation as you. If you struggle with an illness or injury that makes exercise difficult, you can try looking into support groups for people that share similar setbacks and find out what they do for recreation. You don’t have to pursue your goals alone. It’s much easier to be successful when you are surrounded by people that don’t place negative pressure on you, but happily cheer you on.
Don’t Succumb to a Life of Boring Meals
Healthy doesn’t have to be boring. Many people associate healthy eating with unsatisfying salads and flavorless grains. However, there are many healthy fats and spices that can be used to make unprocessed and low-calorie foods delicious. Another thing to note is that just because a diet worked for someone you know does not necessarily mean it will work for you. Likewise, if your diet is made up almost entirely of carbs and you suddenly start the Keto diet, you’re probably not going to last very long. Instead, you can start lowering your carb/sugar intake gradually by replacing a chip here and there with carrots and hummus, or desserts with fruit. You don’t have to completely restrict sweets and other guilty pleasure foods to live a healthy life. In fact, dietitians like @dietitian.hannah suggest that complete restriction of certain foods ultimately leads to binging. For example, if you tell yourself, “I will not eat any sugar for the entire year!” Chances are you are only going to be able to think about sugar. Instead, do your best to purchase healthy groceries and surround yourself with healthy snacks, but when your brain starts screaming for an Oreo, just have one. That one Oreo is going to do a lot less damage than the whole pack of Oreos you might eat after an entire day of dreaming about them.
For some healthy, tasty recipe ideas, check out our blog.
Don’t Overestimate Yourself
Set realistic goals. If you’ve never set foot in a gym before, it’s not likely that you’re going to exercise five days a week now just because it’s your new year’s resolution. Start with one or two days and work your way up. If you live a sedentary life, you can start to gradually improve your health simply by walking. MotivHealth has a Steps Program that pays members a dollar for every day they walk 8,000 steps or more, up to 20 days per month towards their HSA. That’s $20 per month or $250 per year that members can earn (counting the extra $10 for December). Spouses can also participate, meaning that each member’s family can earn up to $500 a year just from walking! It takes patience, but health goals are much more achievable when you work up to them gradually—and reward yourself! Start slow, but be consistent. Consistency is much more important than intensity when it comes to changing your lifestyle.
Don’t Panic When You “Fall Off the Wagon”
Never forget that you’re human and you are going to mess up. Maybe you’ve gone to the gym three days a week for three months straight, and then you can’t find the motivation to go at all one week. That’s normal. You’re going to have lapses, just don’t let them turn into re-lapses. Just because you failed to attain your goal one week doesn’t mean you should give up. Simply start going to the gym again the next week and pick up where you left off. The same goes for healthy eating. You’re going to have cheat days. One of the great joys of life for many people is eating. Maybe one night you’re watching a particularly engaging TV show and you accidentally eat the whole pizza because you weren’t paying attention to your helpings. This doesn’t mean you have to starve yourself the next day. Just pick up where you left off with healthy eating. When you learn to forgive yourself, you are going to be much less likely to give up on your goals.
What are your goals for the new year?