I’m not much of a New Year’s resolution kind of gal. Instead I’m more of a New Year’s reflector. I prefer to reflect on what I’m doing well and what I can do better. Then I set some goals, usually to get healthier, but sometimes surrounding my business, family and friendships. You won’t catch me focusing on the negative – what I can’t eat, what I must give up or how I have to punish myself through exercise. I prefer much more positive types of goals. My overarching goal is to be good to myself by taking care of myself, so each of my specific goals has to fall within that theme. Restrictive diets and punishing workouts simply don’t fit. And besides, they’re totally the pits anyway! When I work with clients, I encourage this same type of positive, nurturing mindset. I usually see a lot more progress this way – and soooo much more happiness.
As I was reflecting on my own situation and helping clients reflect on theirs, I came up with this list of 17 small, doable steps. See anything you want to try? Any thoughts on what to add? The possibilities are infinite. Whatever you pick, be sure it’s SMART and be sure it’s important enough to you that you have drive to accomplish it.
Get Healthier and Happier
- Eat fruits and/or vegetables at every meal and snack. Instead of thinking “what shall I eat,” think “what fruits and vegetables shall I eat.” This simple, doable change will bring you health-boosting nutrition and may even help you control your weight.
- Eat at least one vegetarian dinner each week. More often is better. Good for you. Good for the planet.
- Get to bed 15 minutes earlier. Adequate sleep is linked to a healthier weight and less risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Most adults need 7 to 8 hours of sleep nightly. Even if you need more than an additional 15 minutes of sleep, this is a good goal to start with. This is one of my 2017 goals. I’m working to get at least 7 hours of sleep each night, so I can get healthier. I’m being careful to start my bedtime routine early enough to be successful.
- Move throughout the day. It’s great to get daily exercise, but it’s also important to avoid being sedentary during the bulk of your waking hours. The American Diabetes Association recently issued new guidelines to break up sedentary behavior by doing any type of movement for 3 minutes every half hour. This helps manage both type 2 diabetes and prediabetes.
- Take a 15-minute walk after eating. It’s good for digestion and helps to control post-meal blood sugar. A beautiful way to get healthier!
- Try one new recipe each week. It’s hard to stick to any healthful eating plan if it gets boring. Regularly try out new recipes or taste foods you haven’t tried before. If once a week is too often, try just once a month. One of my 2017 goals is to create at least two new recipes every month.
- Add more vegetables to your usual recipes. You’ll get more health-boosting nutrition and a larger portion of food for fewer calories. Add carrots, mushrooms and zucchini to spaghetti sauce and any favorite vegetables to potato salad. Mix zucchini noodles with spaghetti and riced cauliflower with rice.
- Eat fatty fish at least twice weekly. Good for the heart and brain and a whole lot more.
- Hold on to good feelings. I learned about neuroplasticity from psychologist Rick Hanson. Basically, it means that you can make lasting changes to the brain. In one of his videos, he described becoming a happier person by noticing and holding onto good feelings. Right after learning about that, I caught myself smirking over and over at the adorable, silly things my dogs would do. I started holding onto those feelings. Really thinking about them and how those silly dogs bring me joy. Rick Hanson is right. Holding on to good feelings makes a lasting difference.
- Look for the positive. This is definitely one of my 2017 goals. I try to start each day with the intention to notice when good things – even very small things – happen.
- Use empowering language. Many of my patients and clients talk about not being able to eat certain foods or dine in certain restaurants. You know that’s really not true – unless they’re talking about a food allergy or intolerance, which they’re not. They’re talking about sticking to their healthful eating goals, so they say something like, “I told my husband not to buy donuts because I’m not allowed to eat them.” That’s just not true. Of course you are allowed to eat donuts. Maybe you choose not to eat donuts because they don’t fit with your goals.
- Make your health choices from a place of nurturing. This goes along with number 9. Avoid restrictive diets. They’re painful and not helpful. Avoid detoxes. They don’t even make sense. Instead make food, exercise and sleep choices based on what is good for you and what you like.
- Record your food intake for 2 weeks. This is not to make you anal about what you eat. It’s simply to help you identify what you do well and what changes will be good for you.
- Reflect on your food journal daily. At the end of the day or a the start of the next day, review your food journal. Give yourself a high-five for each thing you did well or did better than you had previously. If you see an area in which you’d like to do better, set a goal for the next day.
- Try out a new form of exercise. If you’re bored with your current routine – or you don’t have one – experiment with something new. Ask for a free pass to a gym or yoga studio before signing up. Or dust off your bike, hula hoop or skates. Borrow an exercise DVD from your local library. Check out a slew of exercise DVDs at CollageVideo.
- Start a healthy eating club. Get healthier with friends or co-workers. Share recipes, meet for lunch once a week or get together regularly for a nourishing potluck.
- Make water your go-to beverage. Plain or flavored water is ideal for hydrating. Unsweetened sparkling water, tea and coffee are also good choices. And don’t forget low fat and nonfat milk. It’s good to enjoy a small glass of fruit juice too and an even bigger glass of vegetable juice. Just don’t forget about water.
Do any of these sound like goals for you? What are your plans to get healthier in 2017?