Happy 2016! If you're like the majority of the country, you're probably sitting there thinking, this is it, this the year I focus on getting healthy. While it's a great thought, you need to take action to make it happen.
Getting started might be the hardest part, so we pulled together 11 tips from mbg contributors who made healthy, lasting changes to their lifestyles. Use their tried-and-true habits and tricks to create your own plan for a healthier you.
1. Decide to make a change.
“No one can change your life except for you. It has to be a decision that comes from within and for the right reasons. Decide to change because YOU want to, because YOU need to, because YOU know life will be better when you're healthy and happy,” wrote Brendan Turner, who lost 145 pounds.
2. Stay positive.
“I try and stay away from negative people. Anyone who constantly tells themselves 'they can’t' probably won’t. Mind over matter plays a huge part in the success of your dreams and goals,” wrote Kari Ianuale, who lost 150 pounds.
3. Quick fixes don't work. You need to make a lifestyle change.
“Pills, surgery, fad diets, and fasts can be a temporary fix — but in my experience, none of these will bring positive and permanent changes as much as a complete lifestyle transformation,” wrote Michael Tamez, who lost 100 pounds.
4. Upgrade your environment and support system.
“I ditched my daily television sitcoms and gossip magazine habits that sent intrusive 'not good enough' messages to my mind. I also sought out personal cheerleaders that were on the same path. The less time I spent with negative influences, the more optimistic my outlook became and the more capable I felt,” wrote Naomi Teeter, who lost 125 pounds in a year.
5. Focus on your life — not what you’re eating or how much you’re exercising.
“When I didn’t spend every waking moment of my day thinking about what I was going to eat, what I could work off at the gym, or where I could 'cheat,' my life opened up,” wrote Jennifer Hand, who lost 60 pounds.
6. Visualize what you want to achieve.
“I wanted to be trim and athletic — so I set aside specific times (usually before I drifted off to sleep at night) to visualize myself with the body I wanted. I would see myself walking on the beach in my swimsuit without embarrassment, or I would imagine going to an event in a form-fitting shirt. Picturing how you want something to be is the first step towards creating it,” wrote Jay Scott, who lost 75 pounds in less than a year.
7. You may struggle with your identity.
“When you lose a lot of weight you will likely find yourself asking, ‘Who am I?’ You may realize that you now have nothing in common with people you have known forever. It’s OK, it’s called growth; people grow and change and if you aren't able to grow together it might be time to move on,” wrote Brenda Johnston, who lost 145 pounds.
8. Heal your digestion.
“I discovered that one of the reasons why I was starving for nutrients is that my digestive processes were compromised, so I was unable to effectively extract the nutrients from the foods I was eating. Digestion problems can also cause inflammation and the inflammatory hormones put our bodies into fat storage mode. I started eating lots of fermented and cultured foods, and taking probiotics and digestive enzymes in order to normalize my digestion,” wrote Jon Gabriel, who lost 220 pounds.
9. Plan your meals.
“I stuck to my grocery list and stocked my fridge with healthy, clean foods. You will never find chips, ice cream or cookies in my cupboards. My kitchen is always stocked with vegetables, protein, and foods that I prepare a couple of times a week. Foods like chili with ground chicken, lentil soup, grilled chicken to eat with salad or a side of brown rice and grilled vegetables,” wrote Farheen Khan, who lost 187 pounds.
10. Remember that all you need to exercise is your body.
“I used body-weight exercises that I could do in my 9-by-6 prison cell. I started working out each morning for 30 minutes and then built up my stamina to two hours a day. My approach to fitness is basic but brutal. I take simple moves like jumping jacks and squats, and tweak them using variations on speed, repetition, and form,” wrote Coss Marte, who lost 70 pounds in six months.
11. Make your health a priority.
“About five years ago, a friend suggested doing one simple exercise which helped me change my life. That exercise was about defining my core values. I realized that my most important value was health, yet this wasn’t reflected in the way I lived my life. This was my 'aha!' moment, when all the changes started happening,” wrote Osha Key, who lost 40 pounds.
Looking for an extra kick in the butt? Sign up for our New Year, Do You challenge — full of 10 minute tips for a brighter, happier you.