Tip 1: Think long-term goals
If you can’t see yourself doing it for 12 months, it likely won’t last. Many of us start the New Year being a little too strict. We clean out the entire pantry, we drink green juices daily, we go from minimal exercise to daily exercise and we remove all alcohol, sugar, salt, carbs and processed foods. The more things we cut out entirely, the more likely we are to fall off the wagon. When you’re trying to be ‘perfect’ with your eating and exercise, you’re setting yourself up to fail as perfection doesn’t exist. Try to change just 1-2 small things and work on them consistently for a few months and when they become automatic habits, then try to change 1-2 more things. Doing everything all at once almost always ensures we’ll become overwhelmed and completely fall off the wagon. Slow and steady really does win the race.
Tip 2: Eat well because it makes you feel good
When you eat well, you feel good. When we’re eating poorly, most of us forget how good a well-nourished body feels. Eating well doesn’t mean you can’t have any treats, it simply means we want to find a nice balance between eating plenty of nourishing wholefoods and enjoying a few treats also. What I find works well for myself and also my clients is filling up on a nourishing main meal and then choosing to enjoy a small treat whether that be a glass of wine, some chocolate, a small scoop of ice-cream or a few potato chips a few times a week. Remember when you are eating treats, you are not eating for hunger. If you are hungry, eat a proper nourishing meal first, try not to replace nourishing meals with treats. When eating treats, slow down, taste the food properly and pay full attention to it. If you eat it while you are distracted, you will likely not taste or appreciate the food and you will eat far more than what might be considered a small or healthy portion. Treats need to be enjoyed in small amounts and we can only really do that when we are eating them mindfully so make this 2022 all about focusing on mindful eating. Slow down, enjoy and savour your food.
Tip 3: Exercise because you enjoy it
If you plan on exercising to burn off the calories you ate or punish yourself for over eating, you’ll never enjoy exercise and it likely won’t last long term. Instead of focusing on how many calories you can burn in a workout, focus on how it makes your body feel. Exercise has wonderful benefits for your heart, mental health, stress levels and it also helps improve sleep. Exercise may also boost endorphins which is why you rarely regret doing a workout. When you focus on the positive benefits exercise provides, you’ll learn to love exercise and it’s far more likely to stick as a long-term habit.
Tip 4: Practise gratitude
It’s unlikely that you’ll truly achieve all the things you really want unless you appreciate all the things you already have. I tell my clients all the time, gratitude changes lives. In positive psychology research, gratitude has been strongly and consistently linked with greater levels of happiness. By focusing on the things we already have, it helps increase positive emotions, can improve our health markers and even help us better deal with adversity. Start everyday naming 2-3 things you are grateful for, no matter how small.
Tip 5: Focus on sleep
In this busy, fast paced world we live in, lack of sleep is almost worn as a badge of honour but more and more research has consistently linked lack of sleep to many health issues. When you’re tired, it’s harder to eat well, you may experience more cravings and it’s also harder to maintain healthy habits such as exercise and gratitude as we feel more exhausted. A good night’s sleep is the foundation for good health overall so aim for at least 7 hours sleep each night (if you’re not a new parent!).
It’s important to remember, we don’t need to be perfect with our eating and exercise. Instead of aiming for perfection, let’s aim for progress. Let’s aim to create a healthy 2022 instead of just completing a ‘4 week challenge’. Focus on the things you can add into your diet versus the things you need to remove. When we focus on abundance, like gratitude, we experience more joy and happiness. 2021 has been a tough year for many so let’s make 2022 the year we focus on our mental health, our physical health and our spiritual health. All 3 are just as important as the things we put in our mouth.