It’s that time again. The New Year has begun, and many people mark the occasion by deciding to get healthy. Over the past few days, many of us have resolved to spend more time at the gym, shed some weight, eat better and, in general, just live healthier lives. It’s a great idea in theory, but let’s face it, change isn’t easy. The process of making resolutions is easy, but succeeding at those resolutions is another story.
One of the biggest problems for many people is that they make big, grandiose resolutions or, even if the resolutions are realistic, they don’t complete the groundwork needed to succeed. This can involve researching the best ways to attain a goal and developing a plan of action. Overall, the best approach is to choose a modest resolution that you can build upon.
What does that look like? The first thing that you should do is find a motivation for your goal. Sure, you want to lose weight and get fit… but why? Do you want more energy? Would you like to fit into your favorite pair of jeans again? Are you trying to reduce your stress? Knowing why you’re working so hard to attain a goal can help you stay motivated and inspired.
It also pays to develop a plan to achieve your goals. Focus on small, positive steps. When it comes to exercise, start modestly and work your way up. Begin by walking for 15 minutes, three times a week and gradually increase the length and intensity of your walking sessions. Once you make walking or your chosen exercise a habit, start adding other types of workouts such as weight training or yoga. Also, don’t forget to incorporate activity into your daily routine. Simple changes such as taking the stairs, parking on the far end of a parking lot or jogging to the mail box can add up.
When it comes to improving your eating habits, planning ahead is just as important. When you meal plan, you can avoid situations where you come home, don’t know what to make for dinner and so you choose something unhealthy as a quick way out. It also helps you recognize when you will face a busy day and plan ahead. Using a slow cooker, or making a double batch of dinner to freeze ahead of time, are both viable options. What about when you’re on the go and get a craving for a snack? The best option in this case is to carry healthy snacks with you. This enables you to avoid the gas station, or the drive through, and control your cravings. Other tips to keep in mind: always eat a good breakfast every day; it can give you more energy and lead to healthier choices during the day. Also, as your mom always said, eat your vegetables. They help you fill up faster, while cutting down on calories.
Finally, don’t quit if you lapse. If you regress and indulge an unhealthy habit, remember it’s a normal part of the process. You’re human, and you will slip up. The best thing to do is start over the next day and resume living healthy.
Small actions become a habit. So, start small this New Year as you work toward accomplishing big improvements in your health.
Erin Patz is a nurse practitioner at Bellin Health Marinette.