HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! I am SO excited for 2018, are you all with me? We will be in our house in a few short weeks and I couldn’t be any more pumped (I’m sure my parents have me trumped, we’ve been living with them while we renovate lol). Speaking of a new year, have you made any New Years Resolutions yet? Any chance they are the same as last year? If so you’re not alone! I think we’ve all been there.
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I invited my dietitian colleague Lindsay Pleskot to write a guest blog to kick off the New Year with some tips for getting your year off to a healthy and DOABLE start. Because let’s face it, anybody can set a lofty goal, but there’s a science to setting attainable goals that have sticking power. Did you know that approximately 80% of New Years Resolutions fail by February? OUCH! If you want to shake things up this year keep reading…
Hi it’s Lindsay here! It’s a new year and there’s no denying that New Years Resolutions are on the brain. These often include goals to hit the gym hard, finally nail the perfect diet and banish all that holiday junk from the house forever. While I can’t argue that we can all benefit body, mind, and soul from moving our bodies more and filling out plates with nourishing, feel good foods, we’d like to suggest a different approach to the typical ‘go hard or go home’ mentality that often sets us up for failure.
There’s a heap of pressure to do what we think we should do, rather than consulting with the most important person – YOU – about what truly feels good. When we take the time to consider the meaning behind the goals we’re setting, they are much more powerful and likely to stick.
When you’re setting intentions, think about how you want to feel. Do you want to have more energy to take your kids to the park or more focus for those big projects at work? Or maybe you want to feel more joy and be more present. When we get to the core of WHY we want to achieve these goals, finding the motivation on those days you just want to throw in the towel come a bit more readily, and things start to fall into place with a bit more ease.
Another key to getting to your goal? Break it down into smaller steps or milestones that you can celebrate along the way: basically set a bunch of mini goals. An all-or-nothing approach sets you up to fail. Break down your goals into mini goals with a chart and attach steps that include behaviour changes that will help you get there. For example, if your goal is to eat a more plant-based diet, add in actionable steps such as ‘fill half of my plate with vegetables’ or ‘try one new plant-based recipe a week’. Make yourself a sticker chart! Hey, it works for kids so why not do an adult one? Small gradual, incremental changes add up to big LASTING changes and you should be rewarded for that along the way. Because who wants to make the same resolutions year after year?
Here are a few ideas for resolutions beyond that guilt induced drive to lose 10 pounds that will help you live a happier and healthier life (and as a nice little bonus, if weight management is one of your goals, it will be a likely outcome of incorporating these holistic, feel good changes)!
- Take Care of Your Gut
I’m not talking about the effects of those extra Christmas cookies. I’m talking about your microbiome – those little organisms, including the healthy bacteria that live inside your gut. There is more and more research emerging about the vast benefits of taking care of these guys. From improving digestion and immune function, to positive effects on mood and brain health, and yes…helping with those pesky sugar cravings and weight management, your gut is worth investing in. (Here is the link to these delicious smoothie bowls)
- Eat more probiotic foods. Probiotics are live, healthy bacteria that will help your gut flourish. A few of my faves are plain yogurt, kefir , kombucha, sauerkraut, miso, and tempeh.
- Feed your bacteria with prebiotics. Prebiotics are indigestible fibers that are the food for probiotics. A few examples include whole grains, chicory root, raw garlic and onion and avocado. You can check out this post on feeding your gut for more information!
- Consider taking a probiotic supplement with at least 10 billion CFU per dose (live active cultures). If you’re unsure where to start, ask your local pharmacist next time you pop in to pick up your toilet paper!
2. Prioritize Sleep
Easier said than done, I know. But getting enough sleep is one of the single most effective things you can do to improve your health and well-being. Besides the all too familiar effects of tiredness on our mood, patience, concentration and overall ability to function, lack of sleep can increase cortisol levels. Cortisol is a steroid hormone with a wide range of regulatory processes in our bodies, including metabolism and immune function. Not only can elevated cortisol lead to increased storage of belly fat, it can wreak havoc on our immune system and increase risk of disease like diabetes and heart disease.
When we’re tired, we also produce more Ghrelin – our hunger hormone! And less Leptin, our hunger suppressing hormone that helps us identify when we’re full. This can make it incredibly difficult to regulate our hunger and cravings, leading us to eat more, and often crave carb heavy, sugar rich foods.
Like anything else, with a bit of a plan there is hope. Establishing a night time routine (kids aren’t the only ones that benefits from this) can make a world of difference.
- No screen time within 1-2 hours before bed (yes, that includes your phone!)
- Journal to clear your mind and and reflect on the day
- Listen to a guided meditation, again, super helpful to clear your mind and relax you before bed
- Use a lavender pillow spray or diffuser to help you drift off
- Keep your sleep space dark and cool. The ideal room temperature is around 65 F or 18C.
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3. Stop comparing!
We’re all guilty of this, and these days with so much exposure to social media, we’re often not even aware that it’s happening. Have you ever caught yourself scrolling your Insta feed, only to find that all of a sudden you’re convincing yourself you’re not good enough? Your stomach isn’t flat enough, your house isn’t tidy enough, and why can’t you seem to get that damn perfectly plated meal on the table on time?! STOP.
You are enough and you’re doing an amazing job. Period.
Remember this is a highlight reel, not a real reel. Coming back to having meaning in those goals and intentions you set, when you’ve taken the time to evaluate what really feels good to you, will help to reel you in when that inner voice starts going AWOL.
- Keep a gratitude journal like this one and take note of what you’re grateful for every day.
- Limit your exposure to social media if it’s bothering you, or unfollow accounts that don’t make you feel good.
- Acknowledge your accomplishments. Remember – progress, not perfection. Set incremental goals and allow yourself to celebrate the wins along the way.
- Practice positive affirmations. When you notice that negative chatter sneaking in, replace it with a positive thought, reminding yourself that you’re enough and you are awesome!
- As the heading says, just stop comparing and do what’s right for YOU!
- Focus on Adding, Not Taking Away
We tend to focus on deprivation when we make our resolutions. Why not add more pleasure, more balance and more of what you love (and leaving what you don’t) when it comes to food. Enjoying the food you eat is another secret to long term success. You don’t have to eat kale and quinoa to be a healthy person if that’s not your jam. You heard that straight from the dietitian source. Absolutely, there are an abundance of nutritional benefits in these foods, but there are hundreds of other foods that will fit the bill as well.
With a positive approach focused on what you’re adding to your plate, vs what you can’t or shouldn’t eat, you’ll naturally find yourself eating more of the good stuff without feeling restricted or deprived.
Here are a few things to consider adding to your wellness plan this year
- Mindfulness. When you’re eating, be present and pay attention to the taste, the texture and the overall eating experience.
- Permission. Give yourself permission to enjoy your favorite treats in moderation. Suddenly they won’t hold the power of that might pedestal.
- Plants! Fill half your plate with veggies, snack on nuts and seeds and try a Meatless Monday.
- Water. Keep a water bottle in your purse or on your desk for improved energy and appetite regulation.
- Snacks. Have a piece of fruit mid morning or snack on energy balls- check out this recipe or this one) to keep you going through the afternoon.
- Plan. Plan. Plan.
Planning. Unfortunately there’s just no way around it. I’ve danced around this in almost every area of my life. From finances, to work and yes…my health. As hard as it can feel to find the time to plan, the results are undeniable. And when it come to making positive changes to your eating habits, same same. Planning is how you get sh*t done. If you don’t plan ahead and schedule time in, something else will always come up. If you fail to plan you plan to fail!
- Schedule one hour per week to plan your meals
- Schedule one hour to grocery shop
- Schedule one hour for prep
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We hope these tips help you as you gear up for 2018. We’d love to hear about your approach to resolutions and goal setting. What are you hoping to do more of this year? Share your resolutions below, I love new ideas!
One thing we’ve heard loud and clear is that many of you are asking for help with meal prep and meal planning, so stay tuned for next week’s post, “6 Tricks To Save Time In the Kitchen & Meal Prep Like a Pro”. We’ll be sharing our best tips and practical tools to help you take this challenge head on and save tons of time and stress in the kitchen.
You can find Linsday’s blog here!