Written by Hilary Rock BSc, Nutrition
Reviewed by Andrea Miller MHSc, RD
Every year many people make weight related New Year’s resolutions, yet not many of these resolutions actually focus on being healthier. Many people will also give up on these resolutions, after the first few weeks. If your goals are too vague or too broad it can be really hard to stick to a New Year’s resolution, even with good intention. You are more likely to reach your goal if it is small, specific, realistic and measurable. The following are some non-dieting New Year’s Resolutions ideas and tips to try to make this year your healthiest yet:
- Avoid Weight Goals: Losing weight is the typical, most common New Year’s Resolution and one that many struggle with. When you focus on losing a specific amount of weight it can be really discouraging when you don’t see quick changes. This can lead many people to giving up or even gaining weight. This year take the focus off pounds or inches lostand aim for feeling happy and full of energy from a healthy diet and exercise routine.
- Involve Others: Once you involve friends or family it is easier to stick with your plan. When you have support, you can share tips and have an exercise buddy to help motivate you. You can rely on each other to meet your goals and it becomes a lot more fun. You aren’t in this alone. Reach out to others who want to focus on being healthier this year.
- Avoid Diets: When you choose to go on a diet, the focus is on eating less food and nutrients and less on long term health and well being. By cutting out major groups of foods you wont get the nutrients or calories your body needs to be healthy. Instead make small and manageable changes to your diet such as eating more fruits and vegetables or being mindful of serving sizes.
- Increase Physical Activity: Start off with manageable changes to add small amounts of activity to your day. Your resolution can be something as simple as focusing on taking the stairs, at work instead of the elevator. You can even make it your goal to have a ten-minute walk, to start your day. Any amount of added physical activity to your day will bring positive outcomes.
- Breaking Habits: The biggest struggle many face is breaking out of their old habits to be able to stick to their New Year’s Resolution. Figure out what your trigger is to any unhealthy habits you may have. According to Charles Duhigg, the author of “The Power of Habit,” one of the first things you should do after you make a New Year’s resolution is convert it into a habit. For example, instead of making a New Year’s resolution to work out more, form a habit to go for a 15-minute walk to a coffee shop and back every lunch hour. Or instead of making a resolution to lose weight, make a resolution to swap out your sugary morning latte with a green tea. In order to form a new habit, you need to define a few cues to trigger the habit, and then to reward yourself after you follow through with the habit routine.
- Make Fruits and Vegetables Part of Every Meal: This year make it your resolution to have fruits and/or vegetables with every meal. Vegetables can be added to wraps, sandwiches, stir-fries, soups and salads. Leave a bowl of fruit on the counter so that you will remember to grab a piece when you need a snack or when you pack lunches to go. Use fruits for smoothies or have it for a sweet, nutritious dessert. There are many ways to make fruits and vegetables part of every meal. Get creative!
- Drink More Water: Thirst is often mistaken as hunger. Use these tips to stay hydrated:
- Drink water before, during and after being active.
- Sip water throughout the day when you feel thirsty.
- Keep a water bottle with you while you work.
- Try having water to drink with most of your meals.
- Monitor Portion Sizes: Compared to a few decades ago, the amount of food offered as a single portion has increased. Bigger portions mean you will likely eat more and over time this leads to weight gain. Avoid distractions, such eating while watching TV or working, you will be more aware of what and how much you are actually eating. Fill half your plate with vegetables. This will help keep your portion of meat, poultry and other protein to ¼ of your plate and the remaining ¼ for whole grains.
- Eat Out Less: Make your resolution this year to have home cooked meals more often. Depending how often you eat out now, make specific goals that you can achieve such as only going out to eat once a week or once a month. Once you make a resolution you can modify it as your goals become easier to meet. Not only can home cooked meals be healthier for you, they can also be less expensive as well. Get creative in the kitchen, try new recipes and get friends and families involved as well.
- Set yourself up for Success: No one knows you better than yourself. Know what you can stick to. Set small goals, that you can measure, evaluate and build on.
In order for New Year’s resolutions to work they must be converted into a habit and remember, you don’t have to wait for the beginning of a new year to make changes. All the best for 2017!
Resources: Health Canada, Eat Right Ontario, Charles Duhigg – the author of “The Power of Habit”