Closing out a year brings about nostalgia in all of us. We reflect back on the activities of the past year – the good, the bad, and the ugly. Our deep desire to do more and be better in the new year drives us to make resolutions for change. It might be to drink more water, get more exercise, or to eat healthier. If you set a new year’s resolution you aren’t alone. Approximately 40% of all Americans use the new year to chart a new course and develop new year’s resolutions. Sadly, studies have shown that 80% or more of people who make a new year’s resolution will not complete them. Most, fall off the wagon within the first 30 days.
You do not have to be one of the 80%! Think instead about habits, not resolutions. Habits are the small changes that are likely to support a larger resolution. Something that with focused repetition over a short period of time become an everyday part of your life. Take, for example, drinking coffee. You didn’t wake up one day and just decide you would now have two cups of coffee each morning. You built up your coffee addiction slowly. Now you have a habit of shuffling to the coffee pot before your eyes are fully open for your first cup.
The key to changing your habits is to focus on only one or two at a time. Making slow introductions of new behaviors until they become habits. Until the behavior is a normal part of your everyday life a new behavior is not introduced. Long story short, pick one or two small behaviors you’d like to change. Give yourself a few weeks or a few months to make this new behavior a habit. Then repeat the process with a new behavior.
Before you know it, you’re well on your way to keeping that new year’s resolution. Instead of setting an unattainable weight loss goal or turning your entire diet upside-down January 1st – consider introducing one of the following four healthy behaviors into your life. Learn more about behaviors for hydration, nutrition, and activity.
Water makes up around 60% of your body. That’s approximately 92 pounds of water in a 155-pound person. Or, 11 gallons! Every organ, tissue, and cell in your body requires water to function normally. Your body uses water to lubricate your joints, help maintain your body temperature, remove waste, and help fight aging in your skin. Some studies suggest that on average, 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated. Chronic dehydration is largely caused by too little water intake or an offset from a high amount of caffeine and sodium in a diet.
Consider targeting between six to eight, 8-ounce glasses of water per day. This is an average amount of water intake. Some people may require more and some less to maintain proper hydration. Focusing on having a large glass of water with every meal or eating foods high in water content can help. Still struggling to get those six to eight glasses? Here are some additional tips for making hydration a healthy habit:
- Keep a water bottle with you during the day. Whether you are running errands or running between meetings – filling up your water bottle two to three times per day can help you easily achieve your goal.
- Don’t love the taste of plain water? Try adding fruit like lemons, limes, or strawberries. Even adding in herbs like basil can spruce up your water while naturally cleansing your body of excess toxins.
- Feeling hungry throughout the day? It’s common to mix up hunger signs and thirst signs. Try drinking a glass of water instead of having that afternoon snack.
- Still struggling to chug down those extra glasses? Grab some fruit and vegetables high in water for a snack. Fruits like oranges, watermelon, and tomato and vegetables like lettuce are naturally high in water content.
On average, 10% of Americans make a New Year’s resolution to eat healthier. Many jump in with both feet and try a drastic new diet day one and struggle to say on course. Instead of a crash diet making daily habit changes is likely the key to eating healthier.
Start with a pantry and refrigerator cleanout. Changing the available options for more healthy snacks and meal prep items can improve your overall nutrition. In addition, keeping a food journal, even for just a few days, can help you identify one or two areas of your diet that you can focus on. Here are some things to consider when making healthy changes to your eating habits:
- Focus on adding healthy foods to your diet instead of just taking out unhealthy foods. This will make you feel less deprived. There is a balance and eating a treat occasionally isn’t a bad thing.
- Keep fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products at home and work for a quick healthy snack. This might include apples, celery, or cottage cheese.
- Pack your lunch instead of eating out. You will have more control over what you are eating if you pack a lunch. Bonus, this also saves you money.
- Don’t skip meals. Skipping meals or ignoring your hunger signs may cause you to overeat at your next meal.
- Decrease your alcohol intake. Alcohol can be empty calories that do not provide you any nutritional benefits.
Similar to nutrition, an average of 10% of Americans make a new year’s resolution to be more active. That definitely explains the increase in gym memberships sold during the month of January! Instead of signing up for a new gym membership or committing to an intense exercise program you can’t sustain, consider easier more manageable ways to get active.
Focus on doing physical activity for just 15 minutes every day. Getting your body moving and your heart rate elevated for even short intervals can have significant impacts on your overall health. This is especially true for those who sit a great deal during the day. Try a standing desk, take the long way to the break room, or put on your tennis shoes at lunch and take a lap around the building. Short bursts of physical activity can help clear brain fog, boost energy, support weight loss goals, and improve your overall mood.
Ready to take it beyond the 15-minute goal? Start monitoring your steps. At the bare minimum, an adult should be getting around 3,000 steps per day. However, to maintain a healthy lifestyle or to promote weight loss between 7,000 and 10,000 steps is required. In addition, consider adding a weight training regimen to your normal workout routine. Weight training isn’t just to bulk up. Moderate weight training with low weight hand weights can help improve posture, boost metabolism, increase bone density, and improve sleep. Consider these tips to get moving:
- Schedule your 15-minute activity break. Planning your activity into your daily routine will make it a habit. After just a few weeks, you’ll be looking forward to your mid-day walk.
- Invest in a pedometer to track your daily step count. You don’t need anything fancy and many smartwatches and smartphones have pedometers built in!
- You don’t have hand weights? No problem! Use canned goods, water bottles or exercise bands. You will still experience the same health benefits as regular hand weights.
No matter what your 2019 may have looked like, 2020 is an opportunity to build new healthy habits into your routine. There isn’t a need for drastic diets or expensive gym memberships. By focusing on introducing one or two small changes at a time you can beat the new year’s resolution odds. Perhaps, you don’t even need a new year’s resolution in 2020! Are you looking for a little more support in your 2020 healthy habits? Contact Anneliese at Force Fitness for individual or group exercise plans, health assessments, and more!
If you choose to focus on hydration, adding a weight training regimen, or taking more steps each day – it’s the healthy choices that matter most. Here at Optimal Sports Physical Therapy, we’re planning our healthy habit changes for 2020 and would love to hear about your changes as well! Follow OSPT on Facebook and share your healthy choice for 2020.
Metadata: Instead of falling into the trap of setting new year’s resolutions you likely won’t keep, consider easy and practical healthy habits that you can kick-off instead. Learn more about the healthy habits of hydration, nutrition, and activity.