Thanks to the, “I’ll start on…” mentality toward health and fitness, personal trainers and group fitness instructors see a surge in new clientele January 1st. Consistency is key, but so many have an “all or nothing” attitude toward a balanced relationship with nutrition and fitness.
“Forget it, I’ve already over-eaten. I’ll just eat what I want and get back on track Monday.”
“I’m going to eat perfectly this week. Only clean food and no junk.”
“I can’t eat that, I’m on a diet.”
“I have to workout.”
The issue with the “all or nothing” attitude to nutrition and fitness is that it is a form of dichotomous thinking in which somebody sees something as black-and-white. Simply put, it causes people to think in terms of either/or, good/bad and all/nothing.
Dr. David Burns, psychiatrist and faculty at Stanford University says:
“Absolutes do not exist in this universe. If you try to force your experiences into absolute categories, you will be constantly depressed because your perceptions will not conform to reality. You will set yourself up for discrediting yourself endlessly because whatever you do will never measure up to your exaggerated expectations.”
And who said new year resolutions have to relate to diet and exercise?
Read on for our list of realistic resolutions to improve your overall health and wellbeing in 2018.
1. Drink More Water
Drinking more water is one of the best things we can do for our health — and it’s an easy change to make. Most of us don’t drink enough water, which helps keep our kidneys healthy, regulates our body temperature and helps us feel more energized.
Drinking more water can also help cut down on sugary drinks like soda, blended coffee drinks and sugary cocktails etc. Reducing calories from beverages is one of the best ways to improve overall health and reduce the intake of “empty” calories (calories that provide no nutritional value).
If you think water is boring, try adding sliced cucumber, mint, lemon slices, lime slices, ginger or berries for a light, natural flavor. Buying a big water bottle (32+ ounces) can also be motivating.
2. Walk More
Walking is a simple start to getting more exercise, and it’s free — no gym membership required. To prevent setting an unrealistic goal, set walking goals for the week, not each day. That way, if you’re busy and unable to stick to your plan, you don’t feel guilty for taking a day off.
We recommend starting small and working your way up. Start by setting a goal to walk five miles in a week, and then increase your goal. If you find walking boring, switch up your location or find a playlist/podcast you enjoy listening to. Some people even listen to a book on tape only when they walk — so they have to walk to hear the next part of the story.
As you get used to your new walking routine, you can add in elevation and speed to switch it up.
3. Eat More Fruits and Vegetables
Eating more fruits and vegetables is one of the easiest ways to eat better — they fill you up and can reduce cravings for more processed foods. The five a day recommendation still stands, but don’t worry if you’re falling short.
You can set small goals to work toward an overall increased intake:
- Add a piece of fruit to your breakfast
- Switch your afternoon snack to celery, carrots and an apple with a healthy dip
- Aim to try two new vegetables each week
- Sneak in vegetables: you can hardly taste spinach in a fruit smoothie
- Ask to switch your side from fries to grilled veggies when you go out to eat
4. Take Time for Yourself
Taking time to pamper yourself and relax is important, but most of us don’t do it enough. In order to be your best self and take care of your family and friends, you must take care of yourself first. Easier said than done, we know.
Set aside consistent time slots to take care of you, just like you would a doctor’s appointment. By scheduling self-care “appointments” you can keep the time available and commit to an hour a week just for yourself.
Perhaps you watch a favorite TV show while doing your nails, read a book while wearing a face mask or take a class at the gym — whatever you find relaxing, set the time to do it and follow through.
And we’re not talking about penciling it in — this is a permanent marker appointment. Self-care is crucial to balanced well-being and positive mental health.
5. Commit to Regular Appointments
Make this the year you get an annual physical, annual eye exam, skin exam and go to the dentist every six months. Preventative care is vital to your overall health, helping to catch health issues early before they become serious.
If you struggle to commit to these appointments, see if you can make them all in the same week — then you can completely forget about it for an entire year.
6. Learn a New Skill
Lifelong learning is one of the best ways to prevent memory loss. It can also help improve attention span and can boost self-esteem.
Learn to play an instrument, learn a new language or to play a new sport, etc. Whatever activity you choose, encourage yourself and remember you’re learning for your own enjoyment.
7. Commit to Improving One Health Habit
Most of us have one bad health habit that we know we need to change. And chances are, you’ve tried more than once to kick the habit.
- Quitting smoking
- Drinking less alcohol
- Eliminating the use of tanning beds
- Starting to use sunscreen
- Sleeping more
- Improving your posture
There are many ways you can change negative health habits or introduce positive habits. Finding a friend or family member to hold you accountable is a great start. If you feel completely stuck, talk to your primary care provider for advice and resources.
Taking the time to declutter your home, organize your computer files and go through your closet can help you feel focused and motivated. Feeling organized can also reduce anxiety.
Set a goal to work on one closet each week — you don’t need to go through your entire house in a weekend. Like everything else, small, realistic goals are key.
9. Be a Good Friend
Take time to reach out to old friends and maintain healthy friendships that make you feel valued. People with strong social circles are less anxious and stressed.
As with friendships, make sure you’re spending quality time with your significant other, without being on social media or watching TV. Nurturing the important relationships in your life is one of the best ways to be a happier and more positive person.
10. Keep Track
Put your goals to paper and keep a calendar with notes relating to your health — track your periods, schedule appointments, note when you feel ill, etc. Keeping track is helpful when you go to the doctor and can also help you notice trends with your health.
For example, if you constantly wake up with a headache on Friday mornings, make a note. You may soon realize that it’s because you stay up late to watch a particular TV show on Thursday nights, meaning you get less sleep.
Recognizing trends and tracking your goals is key to better overall health.
Women’s Healthcare of Morgantown
At Women’s Healthcare of Morgantown, your health is our main priority. If you been neglecting your annual exam, reach out to us today to schedule an appointment. If you’re nervous about the appointment, you can download our Guide to Annual Exams to learn what to expect.