Resolutions are synonymous with the turn of a new year. Self-improvement lists, including weight-loss goals and the elimination of unhealthy habits, are habitually made by December 31st, yet infrequently maintained for more than a couple of weeks. Here are some simple tips to help keep you on track to create a healthier you in 2013.
Make small changes, one at a time!
Trying to completely makeover your diet or exercise routine in one go is a recipe for failure. Behavioral changes take time! Aim to incorporate one small change into your routine at a time; once you successfully implement the first change, add another. Continually incorporating small changes will lead to the realization of long-term, sustainable healthy choice-making!
Be specific in your goals
Setting a broad goal for yourself, such as “losing weight,” can seem like an impossible task. Be specific in outlining how you will realize your long-term objectives: come up with concrete changes you will make, one at a time, that will help you achieve the end results you desire. Some specific goals for weight-loss include replacing soda with seltzer water; eating whole pieces of fruit instead of potato chips for your snack and incorporating twenty minutes of walking/jogging into your routine four times a week.
Measure your progress
It always feels good to succeed in our endeavors! Check to see how you’re doing in meeting your goals by keeping track of your progress in a journal. Actually seeing that you increased your exercise from 15 to 30 minutes a day over the course of a week, or that you lost two pounds since you last weighed yourself, will help motivate you to continue with your health-supporting plan.
Seek support from your social network
Encouragement from loved ones is another major motivator in making (and sustaining) healthy choice-making. Let your friends and family know about your goals, and allow them to offer words of support and encouragement to keep you on track. You can also get the social circle involved; many people have greater results when completing diet and exercise plans with a partner or group!
Some helpful, easy to include changes, to create a better you in 2013 include:
Preparing half and half (whole) grains – If you struggle to incorporate whole grains into your diet, start with a half and half mixture of whole and refined grains (e.g. ½ whole wheat pasta and ½ regular pasta; ½ brown rice and ½ white rice). Starting with a half and half mixture increases your whole grain intake while allowing time for your tastes to warm up to the healthier grain options.
Substituting fruit for sweets – Don’t let your sweet tooth get the best of you! Use naturally sweet fruit to fulfill your sugar cravings. Experiment with new fruits to find tastes you like; or make a fruit dessert, such as baked apples or pears.
Alternating exercises and intensity levels
Don’t let the marathon runner in the park intimidate you; you are out to better your own personal health! There are many options for incorporating physical activities into one’s routine; no matter your level of fitness or physical limitations. Experiment with different exercise programs until you find one that you enjoy!
Some great beginner options include:
Yoga for relaxation (Integral Yoga Institute, located on 227 W. 13th St offers donation HIV yoga classes)
Stretching and meditation
Walking at different speeds (alternating between normal, brisk and jogging as appropriate)
Modified push-ups and sit-ups
Swimming (The Hansborough Recreation Center, located on W 134th between Lenox and 5thAvenue, have pool memberships for less than $100/year)
Start with these small changes, and you will certainly realize a healthier you in 2013. Good luck!