So this is the year you’re finally going to do it: Go to the gym five times a week, cut out sugar and processed foods, prepare clean meals every evening for the next day, shed a few kilos, achieve radiant skin, and eliminate stressors from your life.
Whatever your goals are for 2016, right now you’re probably feeling motivated and determined to stick to them … am I right? But the sad truth is this: The vast majority of New Year’s resolutions are abandoned within a few weeks. So, to help you keep yours all year long, I’ve put together ten handy tips for crafting and carrying out healthy lifestyle changes!
#1: Commit your goals to paper
Writing your goals down and keeping them in view – say, on a post-it note on your computer monitor or car dashboard – makes them feel tangible and official. Therefore, you’ll be less likely to fall off track. Keep the wording focused and short – the clearer, the more motivating. For example: “Swap out coffee for green tea” or “go to three yoga classes each week”. Update your goals as you go along.
#2: Be mindful when you eat
It’s a fast-paced world out there, which makes it all too easy to feel distracted and shovel in more food than you need when you’re hungry. This is why being mindful when you eat is so important. Some things to think about here include avoiding eating when you’re distracted, taking time to taste your food properly, and eating more slowly. One particular thing to focus on is chewing your food thoroughly – not only will this help you savour food, it also assists the digestive process.
#3: Sip on smoothies
Most people don’t consume enough fruits and veggies … and that’s right where smoothies come in. They’re helpful in upping your fruit and veggie intake for optimum nutrition. I’m not referring to those milkshake-like monstrosities that contain sugar and ice-cream, but rather the whole foods smoothies that are packed with fruits and veggies. Invest in a quality blender and start sipping! Smoothies are so quick and easy to whip up for breakfast or lunch, and there are loads of great recipes that you can find online.
#4: Keep your body hydrated
Two-thirds of your body is made up of water, which performs a number of functions, including acting as a solvent, temperature regulator, nutrient carrier and detoxifier. Maintaining hydration can have a profound influence on your vitality and energy levels, including mental alertness. Aim to glug down the recommended eight glasses of water per day. I find that having a water bottle on my desk in the office helps me reach my daily water intake goal.
#5: Soak up the sun
Sunlight, and the vitamin D it can make in your skin, is associated with a wide spectrum of benefits for your body, including a reduced risk of cancer, heart disease and osteoporosis. Vitamin D is also super for strengthening your immune system. As a rule of thumb, vitamin D is made when your shadow is shorter than your body length. For example: When the sun is high up in the sky. While burning is to be avoided, get as much sunlight exposure as you can for optimal health.
#6: Get your beauty sleep
Sleep has the ability to optimise physical and mental energy. Optimal levels of sleep, which is about eight hours a night, are even linked to longevity and reduced risk of chronic illness. Aim to get to bed by 10pm or 10:30pm every night. This simple strategy is a potentially useful investment in terms of your short- and long-term health and wellbeing. Shutting down all of your devices, such as your cellphone, tablet and laptop, early in the evening will also help create the time and space for a good night’s sleep.
#7: Walk regularly
Aerobic exercise is associated with a variety of benefits for your brain and body, including mood-enhancing and immune-boosting effects. This kind of exercise can be something as uncomplicated as low-impact walking. Aim for a total of about 30 minutes of brisk walking every day. I find that walking regularly helps boost my productivity levels at work, and my energy levels in the gym.
#8: Engage in resistance exercise
Resistance exercise helps you maintain muscle mass and strengthens your body. This has particular relevance as you age. Many highly useful exercises can be done at home, such as sit-ups, press-ups and squats. Invest in dumbbells to extend your home fitness routine to other exercises, too. This kind of exercise will help maintain your body between other workouts such as yoga, running or spinning. I suggest doing resistance exercises for 30 minutes about three times a week.
#9: Practise mindfulness daily
Mindfulness is an incredible way to collect your thoughts, reduce your stress levels, and become more in tune with what’s happening in the present moment. I find that practising it for ten minutes every morning helps me achieve my goals each day. It’s simple to do: On the floor, sit cross-legged. Hold you back up straight and let your shoulders drop, resting your arms in your lap. Take a deep breath, close your eyes, and focus on your breathing. As thoughts enter your mind, simply acknowledge them, then focus back on your breathing. The more often you do this, the easier it becomes to keep your attention where you want it to be.
#10: Let yourself mess up once in a while
Adopting a healthy lifestyle is truly hard work (trust me – I know all about it!) … so don’t allow a one-day fast food binge or a couple of sneaked cigarettes to leave you feeling demoralised and hopeless. If you get derailed, reframe it as a learning experience and get right back on track. Good luck!