I love how motivation runs high in January. My Pilates classes would be a squeeze as they packed out for the month. But by February enthusiasm would wane and classes would return to normal numbers. Which follows the pattern of most New Year’s resolutions. It’s not that people mean to let themselves down; it’s just that they don’t know how to follow through.
So how can we capitalize on the enthusiasm of a new year and make it last beyond January? The first big mistake a lot of people make when trying to become healthier is setting the bar too high. Trying to drastically transform their life rather than make small, simple and realistic changes. Loosing weight does not need to mean following a restrictive diet. Getting fit does not require you to ‘go hard or go home’. Optimum health is not dependent upon expensive supplements or juice cleanses. If you want to make 2020 your healthiest year yet, get back to basics:
Focus on the process
Social media makes us very outcome-focused. Before and after body transformations, advanced yoga poses and perfect lifestyle photos that neglect to tell the real story. What looks like an overnight success hides the daily choices, failure and consistent effort it took to get there.
Create boundaries with yourself and others
What boundaries do you need to prioritise your wellbeing? Is it blocking out one day a week where you have no commitments. Or is it becoming more disciplined with your sleep routine? What boundaries do you need to put in place with others? Saying no more often, or just refusing to engage in other people’s drama?
Eat real food
A good rule of thumb is to check the ingredients of any product and determine whether you could make it at home. I recently persuaded my Dad to swap his olive oil spread to butter by reading out the long list of ingredients, most of which I couldn’t pronounce. The butter on the other hand had just two ingredients: cream and salt. What can often appear healthy like spreadable margarine with pictures of olive groves on the lid is actually just clever marketing disguising how highly processed it is.
Eat more plants
I’ve worked in lots of offices and attended many catered conferences and training events where I couldn’t help myself from surveying other people’s paper plates at lunchtime and notice how beige they all looked. Beige sandwiches, beige pastry things, beige crisps. Nothing looked alive. Simply filling your plate with vegetables will dramatically improve your diet.
The people who live the longest and healthiest lifestyles in the world (Blue Zones) don’t run marathons or slog it out in hour-long HIIT classes. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it’s not necessary to get the physical and mood boosting benefits we need. Incorporating flexible and daily activity that’s kind to our bodies can be much more achievable. In the blue zones there’s no sitting stationary at a desk all day. The environment is set up to ‘nudge’ people to keep moving throughout the day.
Have a dopamine detox
Those little love hearts on social media have been designed to be addictive, giving us a dopamine hit every time we check our phones. Especially true if you’re not feeling loved at work or at home. Take a break from tech to give your mind and body a rest. Loving yourself is the metric that matters most.
Breath fresh air
You don’t need a long drive out to the countryside to get a nature fix. There’s plenty of fresh air in your local park and short regular walks are just as beneficial. Especially in the cold winter months when we have the urge to hibernate. Get outside and just breathe.
Get enough sleep
This one often gets overlooked as it is so basic. But it’s probably one of the most important things you can do for your mental and physical health. Going to bed early is a discipline and planning helps. Set an alarm on your phone to begin your wind down evening routine.
Speak more kindly to yourself
Who we spend time with has a huge influence on how we feel, and the person we spend the most amount of time with is our self! Noticing your mental commentary is the first step in improving your internal dialogue.
Plan your week
Time for exercise and self-care does not magically appear I’m afraid. But the odds of doing either hugely increases when it is planned into your week. To find a better way to plan and make time for exercise and all the other things you want to achieve in 2020, do check out my free ‘Reclaim Your Time’ planning guide: