As we close out the year, it only makes sense that our attention turns to how we can grow, change and manifest all we need to feel better in the future. New Year’s resolutions are a great way to set goals and positive intentions, especially those concerning your health. But many resolutions fade by the spring because they’re unrealistic and not set up for long-term success. In order for you to stick to your goals, they need to be sustainable and actionable.
Here are a few realistic New Year’s resolutions that will not only improve your health, but are also achievable — which is the whole point anyway, right?
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Instead of desiring instant results, see fitness as a lifelong journey
Attaining optimal fitness is a journey, not a destination. Think of changing your lifestyle as something that’s constantly evolving rather than achieving a certain number on a scale by a certain date.
Instead of seeing exercise as an add-on, integrate it into your lifestyle
“Finding the time” to exercise can sometimes be nearly impossible, which is why it helps to find ways to integrate it into your lifestyle. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, for example. Do squats while brushing your teeth or hold a plank while watching TV.
Instead of trying that new fad diet, commit to eating more whole foods
Fad diets have a reputation for failure, and for good reason. They’re not sustainable. Instead, focus on incorporating more whole and nutritious foods into your diet, including fruits and veggies, lean protein and healthy fats.
Instead of takeout, do meal prep Sunday
While getting takeout for lunch or dinner is the easier choice, it’s not the healthier one. Commit to planning and prepping your meals on Sundays. You’ll not only save calories, but you’ll save money too.
Instead of cutting out your favorite snacks, eat them in moderation
Adhering to an all-or-nothing approach seldom works when it comes to eating habits because you end up craving that food and run the risk of bingeing. It’s a way better option to allow yourself the occasional treat than to deprive yourself.
Instead of committing to working out every day, relax a bit
If you’re a gym newbie or haven’t worked out in a long time, committing to working out every day is a big ask, and chances are you will fail, which will only lead to guilt and frustration. Instead, go easy. Try two to three times a week at first. You can always add more days afterward.
Instead of wanting to lose a certain amount of weight, look for body composition
The scale isn’t an accurate barometer of weight loss. Not only does 1 pound of fat weigh the same as 1 pound of muscle, but because muscle occupies less space than fat, your body will look leaner if you’re carrying more muscle. Use how your clothes fit and a measuring tape to track weight loss instead.
Instead of counting calories, start a food journal
Counting calories can illicit unhealthy obsession with food intake. Instead, write down your health goals and track which foods you’re eating. It’s a good way to track what you’re consuming and keeps you accountable.
Instead of going it alone, get a gym buddy
Embarking upon a new fitness routine can be daunting, which is why it’s key to recruit a gym buddy. You’ll both serve as each other’s motivators and cheerleaders, striving to do better while also making exercising something fun to do.
Instead of investing in a personal trainer, buy an app
Personal training can end up being a big expense. If you need some guidance and motivation, there are a number of apps, both free and with minimal charge, that can get you the same results without the price. For example, Kayla Itsines’ BBG app is not only popular but is known for getting everyday women into amazing shape.
Instead of being general about “losing weight,” sign up for a race
Signing up for a competition like a 5K is an excellent method of goal-setting and will give specificity to your health goals. When you sign up for a race or an athletic challenge, you’ve already committed financially, so you’re more likely to work toward it over the months ahead.
Instead of pushing yourself, indulge in self-care
It’s easy to get wrapped up in the pressure of your goals and the day-to-day, but it’s just as essential to rest for the sake of your health as it is to keep moving. Give yourself a rest day and treat yourself to self-care indulgences, like meditating, yoga or even a hiking outdoors. Your body and mind will thank you.
Brianne Hogan is a certified personal-training and healthy-eating coach.
A version of this story was published in December 2018.
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