If you’re like so many people who make New Year’s resolutions, often at the stroke of midnight when recollection can be a little hazy, you’re certainly not alone! However, why not make your resolutions for next year slightly in advance and start the new year in the right frame of mind?
You’re much more likely to stick to them and your diet and lifestyle habits will stay on track.
Here are Clinical nutritionist Suzie Sawyer’s five top tips for starting the year right.
Don’t over promise yourself
New Year’s resolutions need to be doable and sustainable. For example, if you say you’re going to lose eight kilos by the end of January, this may be possible if you starve yourself (not advised), but then you’ll end up putting all the weight back on (and more) which will be very demotivating.
The key to sustained weight loss is slow and steady – around a kilo a week is good. If you’ve been eating lots of sugary and calorie-laden snacks over the Christmas period, then simply cutting back on these and eating three well-balanced meals a day is going to make a huge difference. Fad diets don’t work because they’re not sustainable. They lead to nutrient deficiencies and energy dips, plus being ravenously hungry sets you up for failure.
Plug your nutrient gaps
The body has amazing powers of adaptation. Most of us push ourselves hard, fail to adequately replenish lost nutrients, but somehow the body keeps going. However, at some point, the body will start to complain, and this can happen in many ways that can adversely affect our health.
People often comment they have felt so bad for so long they can’t remember what it’s like to feel good. Much of this is down to nutrient depletion. The body is a machine that needs to be properly fuelled with nutrient-rich food. Resolve to make each meal count in 2020. Look at the colour on your plate – the variety gives a good indication of nutrient levels. Be wary of any processed foods; the closer a food is eaten to its natural state, the more nutrients you’ll be consuming.
If you’re already into a good exercise routine, then well done! However, many people don’t reach even the minimal recommend levels of exercise (five times a week for at least 30 minutes). Exercise is crucial for health; it supports the immune system and it’s great for the heart and circulation. Exercise also stimulates the production of feel-good endorphins and it helps with weight management and preventing type 2 diabetes.
Importantly, don’t set yourself up to fail. If you hate the gym, that’s never going to change so don’t resolve to start a gym programme. Instead, plan an exercise programme you’ll enjoy, even if it’s simply taking more walks, or starting cycling. There’s no limit to options for exercise. Even working from a stand-up desk is better for you than sitting down all day.
Limit screen time
Our 24/7 lifestyles with a never-ending stream of emails, messages and social media activity is not great for emotional wellbeing, let alone stress. If you’re ‘addicted’ to social media, then why not resolve to manage the time you’re engaged with it and set yourself limits. There’s lots of research to suggest that looking at social media too much can contribute to feelings of anxiety and low mood.
If your workload is high and emails are non-stop, then you need to put some time management in place. If work colleagues are set on sending emails around the clock, resolve to be off-line for adequate periods. There needs to be a break between work and non-work-related activities for the brain to have some downtime.
Be optimally hydrated
The simplest changes can sometimes make an enormous difference to how we look and feel. None more so than ensuring the body is sufficiently hydrated. We often forget to drink water during the winter months when it’s cold outside. However, the body still needs at least six to eight glasses of water daily – more if you’re taking regular exercise. As an indicator, your urine should be clear during the day.
However, if plain water’s not your thing, then liven it up with some fresh lemon and crushed ginger. Herbal and fruit teas also count towards your hydration targets, as do fruits and vegetables.
Caffeinated teas and coffee are not great at hydrating, partly because coffee tends to work as a diuretic and tea is high in tannins which can stop the absorption of essential minerals. Resolve to ditch the stimulants as much as possible and hydrate optimally. Your heath and skin will thank you for it.
If you start the year right, without too many wild expectations, you’re much more likely to be hitting your goals throughout the year – and at the end of the year too!
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