Turning the page on a new week, new month or new year brings hope, a sense of new beginnings and a fresh start. No matter where you begin, be realistic with yourself. Setting lofty goals or intentions is like trying to get the perfect photo to post on social. Just like you rarely get everyone smiling on the first try, it takes several attempts to get it right, requires work, and sometimes it’s just not realistic. The best way to be successful with your goals is building on what you’re already doing right now, no matter how big or small, and determining what tools you have and need to get you there. This will create habits that stick and make your goals more attainable.
Here are some ideas for small things you can do or add into your weekly routine to keep up the healthy habits you’re trying to achieve in 2021.
Define Your Goals and How You Plan To Reach Them: Saying you want to lose 10lbs could be a realistic goal, but your success will depend on your plan to get there. Ask yourself what you need to do to reach your goal; whether its logging meals daily, grocery shopping every Sunday, meal planning, enlisting the support of family, establishing an exercise routine, and/or weekly food delivery. Write down the tools you have and the ones you need to succeed. Each week evaluate what’s working, what’s not, and where you can improve.
Make Time For Your Priorities: It’s easy to have the best intentions going into the day and then have it spiral out of control with meetings, appointments, or things you hadn’t planned. Getting up early to either prep your meals or workout is a great way to set the day up for success. Not a morning person? Schedule your calendar at the start of the week based on when you want to shop, meal prep, menu plan, or workout. When its already built into your schedule you’re more likely to have it stick. Remember there is always time for the things you prioritize.
Try A New Recipe Each Week: If 2020 was the year you ate out less and cooked more at home, build on this healthy habit. Break up the monotony of your weekly meals by incorporating one new meal into your repertoire each week. This is a great way to add more variety to your meals, spice things up, make them healthier and try new things. If you can’t eat out with family and friends why not make this a social event and pick a recipe with a friend or family member and make it together virtually.
Move More: A study recently published in the Annals of Internal Medicine confirmed that globally overall activity levels declined during the pandemic (1). Even if you’ve continued to workout, chances are your overall lifestyle activity has declined due to running less errands, working remotely, and trying to streamline your daily activities to minimize exposure. Try and get short bursts of activity wherever you can such as walking the stairs in your house every hour, taking a walk around the neighborhood a few times a day, or bring a little extra fire and intensity to the workouts you’re already doing.
Declutter Your Kitchen: One of the biggest things working against you could be your environment, especially if you’re still working remotely or spending more time at home. Studies show that individuals eat less when they’re in an environment that is less cluttered and less chaotic. Declutter your countertops, keep healthy foods in your line of vision, keep processed foods out of reach or avoid buying, and make sure to keep your pantry and fridge stocked with easy to grab healthy options like nuts, Greek yogurt, cheese sticks, fruit, hummus, or veggies.
Don’t Ditch the Carbs, Swap Them: Processed carbohydrates (breads, pastries, cereals, starchy snacks and sweets) are convenient, but the calories can add up quick. Replacing simple carbs with those rich in fermentable fiber like vegetables and fruit improves the release of hormones in the gut tied to satiety. These hormones send signals to our brain staying stop eating. Just remember to increase your intake of fiber rich foods slowly and consume more water when you do. This will improve digestion and keep everything moving.
Evaluate Your Relationship With Alcohol: Maybe the idea of Sober January wasn’t a bad one. Alcohol consumption has drastically increased over the past year with heavy drinking (more than 4 glasses) in women spiking 41% (2). Alcohol can wreak havoc on our mood, energy, activity level, and relationships making little to no alcohol the ideal choice. Evaluate your relationship with alcohol and if it might be time to change the frequency of your consumption.
Show Some Gratitude: One thing we learned in 2020 is gratitude and to not take things for granted. Having gratitude and expressing it in small ways can promote feelings of happiness, decrease stress, and improve mental well-being. This could be done through writing notes of appreciation, verbalizing thank you’s or writing down what we’re grateful for daily. The goal is to focus on what you have, not what you lack which promotes greater satisfaction and happiness (3). Check out our daily gratitude journal here.
As we kick off 2021 with our hopes of a fresh start, make sure to give yourself credit for all the positive things you did for your health in 2020. Build on these positive behaviors, congratulate yourself when you hit milestones, and don’t be hard on yourself if you slip up. Set realistic and achievable goals and we know this will be your best year yet. Remember that no matter what your health goals are this year that we’re always here to help!
- Tison GH, Avram R, Kuhar P, Abreau S, Marcus GM, Pletcher MJ, Olgin JE. Worldwide Effect of COVID-19 on Physical Activity: A Descriptive Study. Ann Intern Med. 2020 Nov 3;173(9):767-770.
- Alcohol Consumption Rises Sharply During Pandemic Shutdown; Heavy Drinking by Women Rises 41%. Available at: https://www.rand.org/news/press/2020/09/29.html. Accessed: January 7, 2021.
- Giving thanks can make you happier. Available at: https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/giving-thanks-can-make-you-happier. Accessed: January 7, 2021.