Ah, the holidays – a time of celebration often defined by elaborate feasts, fun festivities and plenty of indulgent, “treat yourself” moments. Although the ringing-in of the new year has undoubtably looked different the last two years, the popular tradition of coming up with New Year’s resolutions probably won’t. Many people use this time to kick their fitness and nutrition routines into high gear, beginning with purchasing pricey gym memberships, trendy diet products and new athletic accessories. These self-improvement promises are well-intended, but more often than not, we end up falling short.
So, what’s the reason that approximately 80 percent of us can’t stick with them? Likely because we’re too ambitious and the changes we’re trying to make are too drastic. Developing a “healthy habit” doesn’t happen overnight. In fact, James Clear, author of Atomic Habits, says it takes between two and eight months to successfully develop a new habit. Hence, the route to attaining a healthy lifestyle is done best through small, incremental adjustments that eventually become routine. Below, we expand on three achievable resolutions that, if followed, have the potential to last all year – and beyond – rather than just through January 31.
1. Get Moving
This doesn’t mean you need to immediately jump into a rigorous workout regimen. Start small. Incorporate walks into your morning, lunch or evening routine. Walking is a great, low-impact form of exercise for your cardiovascular health in addition to being a proven mood and energy-booster. From there, you can choose to work your way up to jogging and more intense cardio exercises.
While many facilities and boutique gyms are shut down or only offering online options due to the pandemic, that doesn’t need to stand in the way of your fitness journey. The internet is abundant in fitness videos and plans for all levels. Find a workout that interests you, like yoga, HIIT or strength training, and give it a go. In addition to the number of free workouts at your fingertips, there are also several highly rated and affordable apps that feature a diverse collection of fitness routines. If you feel that you need accountability, try out a virtual subscription for a local studio or trainer, where you’re expected to show up and participate on video.
2. Channel Your Inner Chef
It’s widely understood that what you eat plays a key in weight loss, and cooking your own meals allows you better control of what your diet looks like. While there’s nothing wrong with occasionally opting for takeout or time-saving premade dishes, it’s important to keep in mind that many of these meals contain preservatives, chemical additives, hidden sugars and artificial flavors, so they should be consumed in moderation. When you’re planning out your recipes, focus on incorporating fresh produce, lean meats, whole grains and healthy fats. These foods are nutrient dense and high in fiber and protein, making for more sustaining meals to keep you satisfied longer.
For some, the thought of preparing a meal can be intimidating, but there are endless resources to ease into the task. From meal subscription boxes that make the prep work a breeze to eCookbooks for beginners and the constant stream of new recipes from bloggers and chefs alike, you’ll quickly learn that cooking can be both fun and healthy.
3. Prioritize Your Behavioral Health
A healthy mind is as important as a healthy body. Far too often, finding the time to focus on our emotional and psychological well-being takes a backseat. But these directly affect how we think, feel, and cope with everyday situations. Now, arguably more than ever, is a good time to prioritize your mind.
Some common ways to help improve your behavioral health include practicing gratitude, getting a sufficient amount of sleep and incorporating relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing exercises, into your daily routine. In recent years, talk of self-care and self-love has become increasingly popular, as has talk of its potential to improve your mental well-being. These acts can include anything from engaging in your favorite hobby, to trying meditation, to setting a couple personal goals each day – like calling a friend and taking time to read at night. Another big component of the self-love movement is practicing self-forgiveness and actively limiting negative internal dialogue – two challenging but important efforts to make. Lastly, humans are instinctively social creatures. Staying connected to each other, particularly during this time of social distancing, is important. So, make an effort to reach out to loved ones each week via phone or video calls to catch up and check-in on one another.
Blue KC members have access to our suite of behavioral health services called Mindful by Blue KC. Mindful by Blue KC is designed to provide our members with trained advocates, online therapeutic resources, virtual care, expedited access to services for members in crisis, workshops and more. To explore Mindful by Blue KC, visit MindfulBlueKC.com or call 833-302-MIND (6463) to speak with a Mindful Advocate who will match you with the appropriate care and services. A Mindful Advocate is available 24/7. While the year ahead may hold many uncertainties, the probability of following through with your New Year’s resolution doesn’t have to be one of them. Give yourself a fresh start – both physical and mental – by following these three, achievable resolutions that will have you feeling like your best self this year – and beyond.