Around this time of year, many of us set our big health resolutions, expecting a completely transformed life come January 1. But then stress hits, our motivation fails, and our good intentions fall prey to old habits.
So how can you avoid this in 2016?
Goals are like going on vacation: You know where you want to go, but you don’t really know the details of what will happen while you are there. And yet at the end of the vacation, it's all the little events of being there that add up to making the whole experience.
Life is the same way. Instead of focusing so much on your health goal, focus on the process of getting healthy in 2016 and what you need to get there. That's what actually leads to sustainable weight loss and overall health.
That's why I teach my health coaching clients to incorporate these 13 small habits into their daily lives for real results. Try them out yourself in 2016:
1. Have breakfast every morning.
If you tend not to be super hungry in the a.m., try making a green smoothie or something easy that you can bring along with you to work, like oatmeal. (I recommend these delicious breakfast recipes you can make in a jar.)
2. Drink more water.
To do so, start by actually planning water breaks at points during the day (since we tend to forget our intentions when they're not scheduled in). You should also start your day with a big glass upon waking up.
3. Eat something green every day.
Adding green veggies, like broccoli and Brussels sprouts, or dark, leafy greens to your daily diet helps keep your digestive system healthy and your meals more nutritionally nourishing.
4. Choose whole, real food.
To promote satiety, we need fiber, fat, and good protein from whole foods. The complexity in real and whole foods also provides higher nutritional value, which adds up to feeling full and nourished, eating less, and losing weight without feeling like you're on a diet.
5. Schedule time for every meal.
Time is a luxury, and real, sit-down meals tend to be one of the first things we skip when we're busy or under stress. But we need to remember that mealtimes are the perfect moments to get relief throughout the day. So block out time for each meal, every day.
6. Chew more.
One way to naturally practice more mindful eating: Treat every meal as if it's an expensive gourmet dinner. And, as you chew, mentally add a dose of appreciation for those who were involved in getting your food on your plate, from farmer to cook.
7. Get eight hours of sleep.
There's nothing that kills your good intentions faster than being tired. Good sleep helps manage stress and positively influences your food choices, so make restorative rest an essential habit for health and weight loss in 2016.
8. Move every day.
Any movement counts. If you can't get to do your preferred workout class or fit in your usual jog, then make an effort to take the stairs whenever possible, fit in an afternoon walk, or even just dance around.
9. Take five seconds to breathe.
Simply pausing before acting or making a food choice helps us reflect, so we can change our otherwise automatic habits. It helps you get out of stress mode and make a rational, healthy decision.
10. Schedule time for self-care.
We tend to not give ourselves enough self-care because we don’t plan it and the opportunity never appears. Put yourself on your own schedule, whether it's simply time to read a book or take a relaxing bath, every day.
11. Notice your stress eating triggers.
The way to develop coping skills is to know when you need them the most. Take time to learn about your emotional triggers so you can support yourself in those moments. If not, you'll continue to fall prey to stress eating.
12. Let yourself make mistakes.
When you judge yourself, you get stuck doing things you would otherwise not do, like stress eat.
Instead, allow yourself to make mistakes and learn what works for you (or what doesn’t).
13. Tell yourself something positive every day.
Our automatic thoughts and behaviors are hardwired to look at the negative — and that can have a lot of power over us. Instead, make it a habit to tell yourself something positive about your progress at least once per day.
Focus on what you're doing right instead of on what's not working. We can only move forward if we look, and think, forward.
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