Not only did we turn the corner to a new year, we are entering a new decade. While some are prone to making New Year’s Resolutions, others may be weary of setting goals and expectations due to the fear of failure. While maintaining lifestyle changes are generally difficult due to humans being creatures of habit, there are ways to remain mindful and little tips to help you stay on track to achieving your health goals in this new year.
A New Year’s Resolution is defined by the Cambridge English dictionary as a promise that you make to yourself to start doing something good or stop doing something bad on the first day of the year.
Each individual’s list of health goals is unique, while there is certainly overlap when it comes to eating better and exercising more. Afterall, if anyone has ever watched an episode of Dr. Oz, we all know these are two key components to living a long, healthy life. Are these goals easy to attain and maintain? No. As Americans, we have every tempting gesture at our fingertips to deviate from making good choices. From hectic work and home schedules to fast food joints being on every corner, sticking to those health goals can be challenging. So, lets break each one down and see what baby steps can be taken to guide us in a positive direction towards success.
When the fall and winter seasons come around, so do comfortable pants and oversized sweaters. The hormone melatonin that controls our sleep-wake cycle is increased in the winter months which is linked to a heightened appetite. There are many ways to create healthy goals related to weight loss after the New Year that include:
Start a diary.
One of the first things in helping us achieve our weight loss goals is to be aware of exactly what we are working towards and how we are preparing to be successful. In documenting our goals and progress, we are also able to keep monitor our accomplishments with positive self-reinforcement.
Find a support buddy.
You can plan your health goals with a relative or friend, or by joining an online forum where you can virtually connect with others who have mind-like goals. You are also able to join groups within your community, perhaps at the YMCA, for face-to-face interaction and coaching with peers and mentors.
Begin a workout regimen.
Maintain your accountability by having a workout buddy or again, join an online forum of people who share the same health goals as you to improve their level of fitness. Finding workout classes in your community also helps to keep your goals in line with many class types available depending on your preference.
Choose positive self-image.
Discouragement can be a strong factor in the failure of losing weight. It is important to compliment yourself often for your accomplishments no matter how big or small. Also, take time to compliment others. You will be surprised how good it makes you feel to put a smile on someone else’s face.
Make healthy choices.
Whether related to working out, eating poorly, smoking, or other personal indulgences, eliminate unhealthy habits or practice in moderation. Setting attainable health goals is a key point to being successful and will help in navigating your weight loss plan.
There are thousands upon thousands of food options and making good choices can be hard. However, when you have set one of your healthy goals to eat better, reaching for something nutritious may not be so difficult. Visiting a dietician can help guide you in getting the nutrition your body needs. Eating better also means being mindful of how the foods you eat are going to fuel your body. Here are some simple guidelines to follow:
- Increase protein intake with added chicken, eggs, oats and dairy.
- Limit sugar intake from food and drinks (including alcohol).
- Increase water intake, generally 1 ounce of water per 1 pound. Ex. 150 ounces (18.75 cups) for 150 pounds.
- Processed foods often are loaded with unhealthy fats and should be avoided for weight loss..
- Reduce refined carb intake as they are low in fiber causing swings on blood sugar levels and can lead to overeating.
Get More Sleep.
Over the years, advancements in technology have compromised the amount of hours American’s are sleeping at night. Staying up to catch another episode of your favorite show to cruising social media apps on your phone, sleep depravation is real. Stress is also linked to less sleep as we’ve probably all heard someone say, “I can’t shut my mind off at night”. There are things we can do to improve our ability to fall and stay asleep.
- Make sleep a priority, create a schedule and stick to it.
- Establish a healthy transition pattern to sleep.
- Read a book.
- Take a warm bath.
- Practice meditation or yoga.
- Use lavender or eucalyptus essential oils.
- Reduce artificial light and light coming through windows.
- Do not sleep with the TV on.
- Use a weighted blanket.
Smoking increased in popularity during the 60’s due to the rise in production and glamorization of smoking in the movies and on television. In 1964, the Attorney General reported on the harmful effects which decreased the annual per-capita consumption. While quitting smoking is one of the hardest health goals to conquer, it is possible. You can quit cold turkey, use nicotine replacement therapy, hypnosis, acupuncture, medication or counseling to assist in behavior modification.
While exercise can go hand-in-hand with weight loss, that should not be the purpose for initiating an exercise plan. There are many factors involved and therefore the focus should be this: MOVE MORE! Get out there and do something enjoyable. Some people cannot fathom the idea of running, however going salsa dancing or catching a hip-hop dance workout class three times a week might be perfect. If you are new at incorporating exercise into your health goals, set attainable objectives and perhaps look for a parking spot further away from the front door of a store to get more step in rather than driving in circles to snatch one close up.
Be Less Stressed.
Stress comes in three different forms: acute, episodic and chronic. According to Spacious Therapy, stress is felt when an individual perceives a real or imagined challenge or threat to their well-being. People often use the word stress interchangeable with anxiety, fear, nervousness, feeling overwhelmed or panic. Acute stress is the least damaging and is often felt numerous times throughout the day. Episodic stress is a combined number of acute stresses in which one takes on more responsibilities than they can handle while chronic stress is an overbearing burden that can be related to a spiraling financial situation, an over-demanding job or an unhappy marriage. All can affect a person’s physical and mental health on varying degrees. There are ways to manage stress and lessen their emotional control.
- Exercise to release the feel-good endorphins.
- Seek the help of a good friend, doctor or counselor.
- Volunteer for an organization that has a true meaning to you.
- Practice yoga, meditation, deep-breathing and other relaxation techniques.
- Eat a healthy and well-balanced diet, while avoiding alcohol that can trigger stress.
- Some levels of stress may be a neurotransmitter imbalance and require medication.
Regardless of the health goals you have made for yourself to kick off 2020, know that each goal is attainable with time and patience. Setting mini goals is a way to help stay on track and meeting little milestones will help maintain focus and determination. American Online Benefits Group offers options providing access to healthcare professionals to assist in progressing towards your goals. Contact us today at 214-389-9072 for more information.