2016 has arrived and the “New Year, New Me” announcements are all around us. Have you made a resolution to become a happier, healthier you, but aren’t sure how to start? Do you make resolutions each year, but continue to be the same old you? Read on for six, easy to follow, resolutions to start your year off right, and since they’re easy to follow, you’ll actually be able to keep them going year round!
Get off that couch and get your exercise on! The U.S. Department of Health recommends that adults participate in 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity weekly, with at least two days of muscle-strengthening activities to prevent disease. Join a gym, go for a jog, attend a zumba class with a friend or find a workout you can do at home. Whatever you choose to do is fine, just start moving! Exercise can help with weight loss, improve the way you look, and releases endorphins, which initiate positive feelings in your body. Research has found that those who are sedentary during the day, even if they exercise for an hour daily, are at greater health risk than those who are active during the day. If you have a sedentary job, try to move for at least 1-2 minutes each hour throughout the day. 1
Add Variety To Your Meals
Try to include a variety of food groups to each meal throughout your day. I always try my best to have each meal include a protein, carbohydrate (usually a whole grain) and fruit and/or vegetable. To incorporate this idea at breakfast, make a ½ cup of oatmeal, mix in a tbsp of natural peanut butter and top with fresh fruit. Need a quick dinner idea? Season tilapia fillets with onion and garlic powder, wrap in tin foil and bake. Serve with a side of asparagus,sautéed in a teaspoon of olive oil, and a baked sweet potato. Try something new! Heard of quinoa, but haven’t given it a try yet? Add ½ cup of cold quinoa to a salad with spinach, chopped walnuts, green peppers, red onions and grilled chicken. Top your salad with a drizzle of olive oil and squeeze of lemon as your dressing. Eating healthy doesn’t have to be boring, so go out and try new foods and recipes that expand your comfort zone.
Not getting enough sleep may lead to unhealthy habits and weight gain. Ghrelin, an appetite-stimulating hormone, and leptin, a satiety-inducing hormone, may be altered by sleep deprivation, causing increased hunger and appetite. In addition, if you don’t get enough rest, you may be tired throughout the day, which, in turn, can decrease your drive to do physical activity.  Set an alarm an hour before bedtime to remind you to turn off electronics and start winding down. Try not to eat too close to bed time as it may hinder your ability to fall, and stay, asleep. Finally, exposure to lights may hinder your sleep, so be sure to turn off the television before bed and close your blinds.
Stress can lead to unhealthy eating habits and unwanted weight gain. Feeling stressed may lead to emotional eating, skipping meals and binge eating. Find something to alleviate your stress that works for YOU! That can mean anything from reading a good book, waking up 15 minutes earlier to meditate, taking part in a weekly yoga class or taking a half hour walk when you get home from work. Taking the time to decrease your stress load will help you re-focus, stick to your eating and exercise habits and feel better overall.
Stop Treating Food Like The Enemy
Being healthy does not mean eating clean 24/7 or only chowing down on fruits and veggies. Allow yourself some treats every once in a while, just be sure to keep yourself in check. Craving something sweet? Have one ounce of dark chocolate. Desiring something salty and crunchy? Allow yourself a serving of popcorn. And if you have a day where you overindulge, don’t let it throw you off completely or make you feel bad. Wake up the next morning ready to re-set and have a healthy, wholesome breakfast.
Make Your Meals Colorful
Eating healthy is so much more fun when your plate is filled with colors! Instead of steaming your broccoli or asparagus, add a teaspoon of olive oil to a pan and sauté them on medium heat to bring out the beautiful bright green colors and delicious flavors. For a delicious fruit salsa, throw pineapple, tomatoes, red onions and a splash of red wine vinegar in your food processor. Top grilled fish with the salsa and add roasted sweet potatoes as your side. Add fresh berries to your morning cereal. Make fruit kebabs with kiwi, mango, strawberries and bananas and drizzle vanilla yogurt on top for a delightful, colorful snack! Visit the Fruits and Veggies More Matters website to find out what fruits and vegetables are in season and challenge yourself to try something new each season!