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Tips for a Healthy New Year

Hello from the high seas and happy new year! As you know, Matt and I are currently on a cruise with Carnival in the Caribbean. Pretty amazing way to ring in the new year! I’ll share a couple recaps once we’re back, but until then you can check out Instagram to see a sneak preview of what we’ve been up to. :)

And now, since it’s officially the new year, I wanted to share my best tips for having a healthy new year.

#1 – Make exercise FUN vs. a chore.

This is something I work with my AnneTheRD clients a lot on – reframing exercise to be something that’s fun and your special de-stressing “me time” vs. a boring/annoying obligation. The best way to do this is to figure out what kind of exercise you actually find fun!

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For me, I don’t particularly enjoy machines at the gym. I used to do the elliptical and the treadmill and all that until one day I realized – this totally sucks. I also decided I didn’t love at-home workouts, or solo workouts, or dance/step workouts. So I found exercise that I enjoyed a lot more, and worked on looking at it as an opportunity, and time to do something for me, not an annoyance. I love any sort of outdoor workout – running, walking, hiking, biking – as well as group classes that are higher intensity like boot camps/circuit workouts, CrossFit, kickboxing with bags, etc. I also really enjoy power yoga, and that’s been a big help with working on reframing exercise as my time for myself because most of my yoga classes end with the instructor telling us to thank ourselves for taking that time out of our day to do something just for us. Think about it – this might be your one hour out of the day that you aren’t constantly checking your phone/thinking about what you need to do later. Exercise is such an amazing way to recharge if you just allow it to be.

The other big key for me, as I’ve written about a lot before, is to make friend exercise dates! This automatically makes your workout a fun adventure – and as a bonus, it’s a lot harder to bail. I find this is especially helpful for early morning workouts. :)

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#2 – Instead of doing a “detox”, focus on cleaning up your diet in a sustainable way.

The best way to do this? Cool it on the fried food, alcohol, excessive caffeine (not saying no caffeine, let’s not be crazy here, just not 8 coffees a day), and any other food that doesn’t make you personally feel your best. Focus on filling your plate with lots of veggies, as well as protein, healthy fat (like avocado, nuts, seeds), and minimally processed carbs/grains. There’s no need to take an extreme approach – not only will it not be sustainable but it will also set you up to fail.

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Remember: what works for others might not necessarily be what works for you! Figure out what makes YOU feel your best, and forget what everyone else is doing. Also, focus on eating healthy MOST of the time, but not always. If there’s zero room for indulgence, it won’t be sustainable.

#3 – Instead of resolutions, try daily actions.

I’m all for people making decisions to change their lives in a healthy way. But that said: I’m not a big new year’s resolution person. I know that resolutions do work for some, but for me (and, I’ve found, for my AnneTheRD clients), big resolutions, while made with good intentions, are often too broad and overwhelming and can be hard to translate into real action. As I hope I’ve shown on this blog, I believe much more in the power of small daily actions that lead up to something bigger.

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Whenever I have a nutrition counseling session with a client, we end the meeting or call with goal setting. I find that setting small daily or weekly goals really helps with making healthy living a lifestyle change vs. a quick fix — or a huge overwhelming goal that is never reached. The key is to make sure the goals are specific and measurable, focusing on daily action in the short term.

Here are some examples of how to turn a broad resolution into a more specific action.

Example #1

Resolution: “I will lose weight this year.”

Daily/Weekly Action: “I will eat at least one extra vegetable every day.” or “I will avoid products whose ingredient lists include things I don’t recognize or understand.” or “I will eat a healthy breakfast 5 out of 7 days of the week.”

Example #2

Resolution: “I will exercise more this year.”

Daily/Weekly Action: “I will schedule at least three workouts into my calendar every week.” or “I will run 3 miles twice per week.” or “I will go to yoga every Saturday morning for the next month.” or “I will sign up for and run a half marathon this spring.”

Again, setting a daily or weekly action will help to make the overall end goal more reachable, because you have something specific and measurable to focus on. Achieving the original resolution will end up being a side effect of your long term behavior change.

#4 – Get enough sleep!

I’ll end with this one because sleep is SO important and a lot of people tend not to prioritize it enough! If you aren’t sleeping enough, you are setting yourself up to fail, health-wise. I’ve had clients come to me who are, it seems, doing everything right – eating well, exercising regularly – and yet they feel like crap and can’t lose weight. Often, one of the biggest reasons for this (besides stress, which is a whole other blog post) is because they are not getting nearly enough sleep.

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Sleep is vital to overall health and important for recovery from workouts, too. It’s also necessary in our attempts to eat healthy. Lack of sleep upregulates a hormone called ghrelin that makes you hungry, which is why it often seems like we are ravenous (and usually ravenous for sugar) if we are overtired. I wrote a whole post on the importance of sleep and tips for sleeping better last year – check it out.

What are your best tips for a healthy new year?

This post was created as part of my collaboration with Carnival. As always, all of the opinions, thoughts, and ideas in this post are my own.

 

Comments

  1. 1

    Definitely agree with you on the dietary side. People go all out in Jan with diets that are unsustainable and futile. Focusing on eating whole foods and as with any go setting weekly actions and tasks is totally key! Great post!

  2. 2

    Great tips! I always cringe a little when people tell me they are doing a cleanse to start the new year. I think focusing on healthy eating and taking necessary action to make that happen is key. You are right about sleep too. Hope you are enjoying the cruise!

  3. 3

    This year I’m going to work on spending just as much time on my mental health as I do my physical well being. 2014 was a great year of challenging myself physically, but it also made me realize that it is just as important to take care of mind and body for emotional strength and stability.

  4. 4

    Such wonderful, totally do-able tips! At the beginning of the year I actually like to set really small goals because I’m more likely to stick with them/revisit them throughout the year vs. giant goals that I push to the back burner. Thanks for the great post!

  5. 5

    Finding workouts that I really enjoy has been key for me. I’m into yoga, rec soccer, and at home workouts. I find making sure I’m getting enough sleep has a big impact on how I’m feeling overall too.

  6. 6

    Completely agree with daily practices! I’m a big fan of intentions & have used The Desire Map by Danielle Laporte the past 2 years to set intentions/how I want to feel for the year.

    My top tips are definitely some sort of daily movement + enough sleep!

  7. 7

    I think the best way to make real change is to be consistent. Try to eat healthy whole, real foods most of the time, and to exercise most days in some way. You probably won’t be perfect (no one is!), but being consistent will keep you on track.

  8. 8
    Roadrunner says:

    Excellent advice, Anne, thanks! As you often observe, “All things in moderation, including moderation!”

  9. 9

    I completely agree with you on the exercise front. It’s hard to follow through and be consistent with exercise when it feels like an obligation.

    • 10

      This is so true! After my half marathon in November, I have myself a whole month off of running so that I could enjoy it and love it again instead of feeling like it was something I had to do.

  10. 11

    Love this list – I’ve been preaching #2 all day today with customers asking me for a detox diet.

  11. 12

    Such great tips!! I have been encouraging my dad to make some lifestyle changes as well, and I have definitely been talking about the tips you mentioned above, especially #1. I love to exercise and lift weights, but like you said, in order for someone to stick with a routine, they have to like their mode of exercise. I preach this to mypersonal training clients all the time!

  12. 13

    Happy New Year and enjoy the cruise!!
    I love new years resolutions but I always make sure that I set myself SMART goals on how to achieve them, otherwise I would just super demotivate myself.
    And for this year… one of them is to run at least 1500km in a year (125 a month :)

  13. 14

    I am already following these steps, so thank you for confirming my healthy lifestyle choices! I enjoyed the pictures you included.

    What type of Camelbak (or other brand) is that? Sorry if you talked about it in a different post somewhere. This is my first time on your site.

    Have fun on your cruise!

  14. 16

    Amen! As a future RD, it drives me crazy when I see talk of “cleanses” and “detoxes” (usually by unqualified sources). It’s an especially hot topic right now with the new year. Moderation and sustainability all the way.

  15. 17

    So glad I read this article–by not doing interval goals (like weekly) is basically how I screwed-up my 2014 goals. This year I created a Google Sheet and next to all my goals I have 52 columns for the milestones or micro-goals that I plan to do for that week. That way I’m not so inundated with the “big picture” and instead can proceed with baby steps until the goal come of age. Thanks for sharing.

  16. 18

    Great post and great reminders how to make good goals! I’m way glad you’re helping your clients see exercise as being being fun instead of a chore–that’s what creates the long term habits!

  17. 19

    I definitely agree about getting enough sleep! All of your tips are great, but sleep is a big one for me that not everyone else I know understands. I am pretty affected by not getting enough, so I always make it a point to do so.

Trackbacks

  1. […] us are ready to focus on healthy eating and workouts after a lot of holiday travel (did you see my Tips for a Healthy New Year post?), so I thought today I would share a healthy recipe! These peanut butter power cookies are […]

  2. […] today, even though I’ve already shared my overall Tips for a Healthy New Year, I thought it would also be helpful to gather together some of my best recipes and other tips posts […]

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