Here are some ideas for your new year intentions that will help you improve your health.
1. Crowd out don’t cut out
Don’t think about what you’re cutting out, think about adding some good stuff in. If you deny yourself all the foods you really crave you will end up feeling pretty miserable. So instead of thinking, ‘no more chocolate’, how about concentrating on what you can add to your diet. Such as fermented foods twice a week, or ‘I will have a vegetable and fruit smoothie three times a week’, or I’ll have at least 3 different vegetables for dinner each night’.
My top tip would be to aim for more fibre (pulses, wholegrains, vegetables and fruits), or just more vegetables.
2. Set small targets
You might feel 8 hours of sleep is just not achievable if you can only manage 6 hours of sleep at the moment. If you decide to go to bed 20 mins earlier every night for a week and then make it slightly earlier again the following week it won’t feel like just a huge jump. Aiming for 8 hours is the ideal situation because that gives our body time to rest and recover, but if you’re nowhere near that much time in bed yet, work up slowly.
My top tip – Set weekly and monthly targets, and write them down and keep a small diary of your progress.
3. Move your body
Most of us can do with more movement in our day. If you don’t know how active you are start using a steps tracker to see where you are now. Aim to increase by 500 steps a month until you’re averaging 10000 a day. This won’t get you fit, but it does mean you’re walking a lot, which can lower blood pressure, and may contribute to weight loss. Build in a small amount of weight lifting each week, starting really small to build muscle. There are some good free apps you can download that talk you through exercises each day.
My top tip – Exercise in the morning before you do anything else, even 5 minutes will be better than nothing.
4. Meditate daily
Stress has a massive impact on our physiology as well as our mood. Try to find 10 minutes in your day to be calm and quiet, breathing deeply. If you find this hard and can’t focus use an app like Calm or Headspace which guide you through a meditation each day. You may find you are able to make other changes, like more exercise or changing your diet, when you have a clearer mind.
My top tip – Try breathing deeply when you’re waiting (e.g. for kettle to boil, or at the red lights). Use this as a trigger to check in with yourself.
5. Reduce your feeding window
If you can’t face changing what you eat, then change when you eat. If you are currently starting your day with breakfast at 7.30 am, then finish your dinner before 7.30pm. This will give you 12 hours of fasting, so no snacking at night. If you can extend the window of not eating to 14 hours then you will get even more benefits. There are lots of evidenced based research projects linking a reduced feeding window to numerous health outcomes, including better digestion, weight loss, better sleep and improving blood sugar control.
My top tip – Drink a glass of water if you feel hungry, then see how you feel 20 mins later.
6. Get accountable
Find someone to keep you accountable for your new year’s resolution. That could be a friend you meet at the gym, or someone you’ll share meal planning with for a few weeks. Whoever it is find someone who will nag you a bit of you don’t stick to what you said you’d do. Writing down your goal and sticking it somewhere you can see also helps. Perhaps on the fridge, by your bed, or on the front door.
My top tip – Book a nutrition coaching programme with me! I can help you meet your health goals.
7. Choose one thing and focus
You don’t need to change everything all at once. That is a recipe for burnout, or giving up because it’s too hard. If you are smashing this goal by March then add something else. But focus on one thing at a time.
My top tip – Set yourself a treat you can aim for if you get to March and you’ve met your goal.
I can help you with any of these, or whatever new year’s resolutions you’ve set yourself. Get in touch for a nutrition consultation with me to get clear on what is achievable for you this year.