According to U.S. News & World Report, approximately 80 percent of resolutions fail by the second week in February. Why? Because dramatic and immediate changes are not sustainable long-term. So make this not a year of resolutions or diets but one of incremental changes to instill habits that create real, long-lasting results.
Do What You Enjoy
Commit to trying new things or even old things to remind yourself of what you enjoy. This is especially true for keeping active and fulfilling your body’s desire for movement and exercise. This can be taking frequent walks through nature, biking, dancing, hiking or yoga.
Start taking ballroom dancing lessons that you promised yourself you would try years ago. Take a barre method class where you can let your inner ballerina shine. Better yet, put that music on full blast while you are preparing dinner and dance like no one’s watching. It is not about perfection, it is about finding what you love to do and what brings a smile to your face, then it becomes fun and not something you want to do.
Add Things—Don’t Remove Them
If your goal is to improve your nutrition to lose weight and improve your energy levels, try adding foods into your diet like vegetables. Find fun ways to prepare them to fit your taste buds. Often times if you start with a deprivation statement like, “I am going to stop eating all carbs,” then the only thing you will think about is carbs.
When you introduce something new and start noticing the benefits of that change, then you are often inspired to move on to add the next change. Think addition—not deprivation!
Stop Eating by 6 p.m.
If you want to encourage the body to burn fat for energy, stop eating by 6 or 7 p.m. This allows the body to put most of its energy into rejuvenating and restoring the body for the next day. It also gives the body all time it needs to use up all the sugar storage in the liver so then it can start burning the fat cells for needed energy.
Take Five Minutes to Stop & Breathe
If one of your goals is to start being more mindful or to simply start incorporating some relaxation techniques to help you react to stressful events with more ease then perhaps going from not meditating to promising to meditate every day for 45 minutes a day may be a bit overwhelming. Try this simple strategy:
Wake up in the morning, take a deep breath and then record in a journal or on your phone one thing you are grateful for, appreciate or just makes you happy. Read it out loud and then follow with five slow breaths and really feel that joy.
This way you are starting the habit and getting your body used to what relaxation and being in a state of gratitude feels like. During the day when things get hectic, pull out that book or play that recording and take five deep breaths. Fast, easy and often times very effective for decreasing the effects of those stress reactions.
Go to Bed 15 Minutes Earlier
Work on getting a good night’s rest. A healthy amount of sleep helps you to be more alert, make better decisions, maintain a healthier weight and helps you to look and feel younger. Go to bed 15 minutes earlier each week for a month so you total an hour more of sleep. Remove all electronic devices in the bedroom that gives off artificial light and creating a bedtime routine that signals the body that it is time for bed.
Spend Your Time with Like-Minded People
Make an effort to spend more quality time reconnecting with family or friends. Individuals who have social connections suffer less symptoms of depression and may live longer healthier, lives. Also, establishing a support group can help to stay on track with our goals. This may look like once every two weeks to a month spending some time with your girlfriends or Skyping or FaceTiming them to catch up.
Making these gradual changes can help you to create habits that will help to feel more energized, feel less stressed, think more clearly and make better choices for you. With each choice comes the opportunity to be the person you have always envisioned.