I’ve always found the last week of the year and the first week of the new year a good time to reflect. What went well in the last year? What are my goals for the upcoming year? In this post, we’ll be talking about creating a happier New Year in just 5 steps.
Some people create lofty goals for this time of year. That works for some people, but not for everyone. Dropping 50 pounds by the 4th of July is doable, but only if you have smaller steps to get you there.
My goals (also called New Year’s Resolutions) almost always revolve around fitness and fun. As you can imagine, I do pretty well in the food department, but getting to the gym? Not so much. Fun? That’s been my resolution for the last few years–to have more of it. Having a goal of “work-life balance is a good goal for many.
You may be wondering why I’m using the word “goals” instead of “resolutions”? I think New Year’s Resolutions have too much emotional baggage attached if you’ve made and broken them in the past. And let’s face it, who hasn’t?
5 Steps to a Happier, Healthier New Year
Focus on the Positive.
What health behaviors are going well? Are you good at drinking enough water? Saying no to sweets? Eating veggies? Being active? What motivates you to do these things? How can you build on those healthy habits? For example, if you’re good at drinking water, how about every time you fill up your water cup, you take a brisk 5 minute walk or exercise break?
Think Outside the Plate.
Some new dietary paradigms are coming to light and they’re helping people lose weight. Intermittent fasting and time-restricted feeding are two fairly new ways of eating that result in weight loss, fat loss and improvements in blood glucose and cholesterol. Read more about intermittent fasting here.
It’s not enough to WANT to make a change, you’ve got to take some steps to get you there. One necessity is tracking your progress by monitoring what you’re trying to change. Activity trackers are good for counting steps and especially good if you connect and compete with friends. Monitoring what you eat via apps, keeping a food diary or a simple tally system have been shown to help people change their eating behaviors. Tracking your progress ties in well to rewarding yourself for good behavior–see Step 5.
Make smaller steps to get you to your goals.
As I’ve said before, my weakness is fitness. Although I enjoy working out, it tends to slip to the bottom of my priority list. Last year, a friend suggested I keep a packed gym bag at work so I’d always be ready in the chance I could slip away from work early. Also, the gym bag was like the elephant in the room–always reminding me of a task on my to-do list. It worked. Scheduling healthy behaviors in your calendar helps too. Write down when you plan to exercise or shop for food or do some meal prep. Keep the appointment with yourself as if you were an important client.
Changing habits can be hard. Internal motivation–imagining the outcome of your healthier diet could be enough. But you might need some external motivation to help you keep going. In weight loss classes I’ve taught in the past, we used a reward system. It goes like this: make a small goal or a few of them for the week. Also choose a reward. It could be something small like taking the time for a bubble bath, or something bigger, like contributing to a “new wardrobe fund”, or taking yourself out to a movie. You could have different levels of rewards too, because let’s face it, we need to celebrate the small steps and the big ones. If you kept a food diary, but didn’t lose weight, that’s still a success. If you exercised 2 times instead of your goal of 4, that’s something to cheer about too. But there’s one thing you shouldn’t reward yourself with-food!
I hope I’ve inspired you to make some healthy goals for the new year and more importantly, to be successful with them! Let me know how they worked for you!