Looking to the year ahead, how do you want to shape your life, and where do you want to invest your energy? If eating well or losing weight are on your to-do list, skip the diets and detoxes, and make a sustainable plan to put your intention into action.
5 ways to plan for a healthier year:
Make it work for you: When you consider the healthy changes you want to make, think about your lifestyle, and healthy habits you can sustain in the long run. Rather than looking for a quick fix, think about how you can embrace a healthier way of eating to help you reach your health goals. Do not resolve to eat foods you do not like or make a plan so strict you’ll be destined to fail. Embrace a healthy lifestyle based on habits you can enjoy.
Set realistic goals: It can be overwhelming if you have too many goals or if your goals are unrealistic, and that may cause you to give up altogether. It is better to choose a few that will truly be your priority. Make your goals realistic by keeping your current eating habits in mind when you are making a list. If you drink sweetened beverages every day, ask yourself if cutting them out completely is too big of a step. You could choose a more gradual approach, having one every other day, then twice a week, until it becomes an occasional treat.
Turn your goals into actions: You might find your goals hard to achieve if they are not specific enough. Wanting to eat better is a good start, but it is too broad. Put the odds in your favor by writing down goals that you can measure easily. You should be able to translate your goals into daily or weekly actions. For example: specific goals can be meal prepping on Sundays, eating two different vegetables at every meal or eating plant proteins such as lentils and tofu twice a week.
Plan for bumps in the road: Let go of the guilt and disappointment if you do not stick perfectly to your plan and think of it as a normal part of the process. Notice if something like stress, fatigue, or time, leads you to veer off course, and take that into account going forward. Reconnect to your reasons for wanting to follow your plan and get back on track.
Do not fixate on weight: Some people rely on the number on the scale to track their progress. Numbers seem rational, but this can be counterproductive. The scale can discourage you quickly and make you give up on your health goals. If you want to lose weight, that process may not be as fast as you want. Instead, stay motivated by focusing on the positive changes you are making, and the improvements you see in your energy level, mood, and self-esteem.
Embracing healthy changes means focusing on progress, not perfection. Celebrate your successes, and notice how your healthy changes impact your energy, mood, sleep, and concentration.
Talk to a FSEAP Registered Dietitian if you want help making a personalized plan to embrace a healthy lifestyle this year.