You’ve probably been through it many more times than you’d like to admit. A new year comes around and you gather just enough willpower to commit to your new resolutions — but within weeks, days or even hours many of them, if not most, are broken and lost.
I’ve spent the past 25 years helping people achieve optimum health through simple lifestyle modifications. These modifications can be categorized into 5 groups, I like to call pillars of health (exercise, nutrition, rest & recovery, stress management and love).
This New Year, you can succeed with your healthy resolutions by focusing on these simple 5 modifications through deliberate action.
1. Get moving, repeatedly.
The biggest mistake I’ve seen people make over the years is to go too hard too fast. Exercise doesn’t have to kill you in order to yield results. In fact, exercise that is enjoyable is sustainable and exercise that is sustainable yields results. The key is to create a habit that is repeated daily around the ritual of exercise. It doesn’t matter if you walk for 10 minutes around your block or enroll in a bootcamp style class for an hour. The goal is to show up, daily. Pick a time of day that you will commit to daily and stick to it. It’s your appointment with yourself (and/or a friend) to work on your best self. Once it becomes a habit, you won’t have to push yourself or call on willpower to get out the door.
Tip: Many group exercise classes provide the instruction and guidance you need without the personal trainer price tag. Sign-up for a few different classes to find the one that may be the best fit for you.
2. Keep your nutrition in check.
There is no amount of exercise in the world that can undo the effects of a poor diet. If your nutrition isn’t right, your goals will fail to become reality. The modification here is to focus on what you should be eating and why, instead of what you’re not eating or perhaps restricting. We all know the importance of more fruits and veggies in our diet but did you know that 90% of American don’t eat enough of them? And as a result 97% of Americans don’t get enough fiber either. For many of you, the difficulty is knowing what to cook / prepare, when and then finding the time to shop for it. Lucky for you, this is no longer a valid excuse. This is exactly what a meal planner is for. Imagine having a nutritionist or food coach, live support 7 days a week and a personal assistant to fetch your groceries. Well that’s exactly what Meal Planner does, and more. Choose your lifestyle goals, how much time you have to cook, how many other people you’re cooking for, cooking skill level, select any allergies or dislikes, what equipment is in your kitchen and then a unique plan is created specifically for you and your goals.
Success is only possible through proper planning and the meal planner makes proper planning possible.
Tip: Digital tools are great but ultimately the responsibility is yours to use them. Make a commitment to use the meal planner for at least 1 meal a day and you’ll ensure that your diet improves by at least 33%.
3. Rest when your body tells you too — and even when it doesn’t.
Sleep is one of the most important things we do daily. In fact, while we sleep, the brain triggers the release of hormones that help us recover and rejuvenate (human growth hormone), which is vital for life. As important as this rest and recovery is, more than 1/3 of American adults aren’t getting enough sleep. What’s worse is that poor sleep has been linked to weight gain, which is a major risk factor for obesity. Obesity is a risk factor for diabetes. See a pattern here? The modification here is setting a specific bedtime. Most adults need 7-9 hours of sleep every night so work backwards from the time you know you’ll have to get up and set a bedtime that will give your body the rest it needs. You’ll want to disconnect from all social media and digital devices at least an hour before your bedtime to give yourself time to wind down from the stimulation. Also, stay away from caffeine for at least a few hours before bedtime. Finally, make bedtime a ritual and continue exactly the same every night. It may be as simple as preparing your pajamas and then washing your face, brushing your teeth and then flossing, followed by 2 minutes of gratitude. By creating this ritual and following it every night, your actions begin to cue you it’s time for bed which make the entire process much easier.
Tip: Too many distractions in bed (tv, computers, social media, etc…) can confuse your mind about what you’re supposed to be doing there. Keep it simple by using your bedroom for sleep and love / intimacy and you’ll make it easier to fall asleep daily.
4. Manage your stress.
Chronic stress leads to inflammation and inflammation is the underlying cause for all age-related diseases. Therefore, stress management is vital for optimum health and longevity. Centenarians in some of the longest living regions of the world have effective ways to manage stress, which include spending time with friends, walks in nature and meditation. The modification here is to create a daily habit around the art of managing stress. Five minutes of meditation can reduce stress and improve overall mood and wellbeing.
Tip: Sleep is important for stress management. 7-9 hours of sleep daily will not only make you happier but also help reduce stress.
5. Love on yourself, and others.
Love is such an important part of all our lives and yet it’s not something many think of as essential for optimum health. Humans, animals, plants, all living things thrive with love. It’s a powerful emotion that can give us strength and nourishes our soul. In general, research suggests that love plays an important role in our longevity. Emotional health is directly related to the love we have around us and share and it usually begins with the love we give ourselves. The modification here is to practice self-love daily by working out, eating mindfully, laughing, forgiving yourself, appreciating yourself and being kind to others. Creating rituals around these behaviors will make it easier to practice love during life’s beautiful ups and downs.
Tip: It’s never too late to change. Focus on what you really want in your life and then take daily steps towards that goal.
Ultimate health is worth your time and attention. Invest in yourself and you’ll quickly realize that everything is possible and it usually begins with your best self. Good luck!