If you're anything like me (and the other MILLIONS of Americans) you probably put off implementing life changes until January 1st because you feel like you will somehow feel more accountable. Unfortunately for most of us that doesn't seem to help.
It usually starts off well. We go 'cold turkey', are consistent for a week or two, and then things start to fall apart. We start to make excuses for why we can cheat on our resolution or why the resolution was not such a great idea to begin with.
The majority of Americans (me included) just want the same thing for 2017 - to look better, feel better, and act better. For me specifically, this includes losing a little body fat, cutting back on candy and other processed foods, and distancing myself from toxic people in my life.
This year will be different though - I've done my homework and did what I could to set myself up to be successful with my resolutions this year. I'm going to share with you a few tips that I hope will help you to be successful as well...
Gym memberships increase 33-50% in January and most of those new members stop going by the end of February. Why? Most of us that sign up for a gym membership in January to help fulfill a New Year's Resolution are doing so only because we think we need to - not because we want to. Eventually our desire to not go takes over and we start making excuses.
My suggestion...save your money and (unless you're in the 1-2% that REALLY enjoys working out at a gym) find some other activity that you actually enjoy doing. If you enjoy it you'll be more likely to stick with it.
Studies have shown that those who consume a glass of water before a meal end up consuming fewer calories during that meal. Most of could stand to take in fewer calories each day, and if drinking a glass of water before your meal can help, then why not?!
Nutrition and weight loss is a hotly debated topic, but I believe it still comes down to 'calories in, calories out'. To lose weight we need to consume fewer calories than our bodies can burn each day.
Have you heard of the 'Blue Zones'? National Geographic Fellow and New York Times bestselling author Dan Buettner has identified hotspots around the world with populations that live longer and healthier lives. One of these hotspots is Okinawa, Japan which has one of the highest concentrations of centenarians (living to 100 years) and live by a 2,500-year old Confucian mantra called "Hara hachi bu", which means to eat until you are 80% full. It seems to work for them!
So, before your next meal, down a glass of water. Then, while you are eating, be conscious of how you are feeling and think about how the next bite will make you feel - stop when you think you're about 80% full. You may think you'll go hungry, but the signal that you are full just hasn't reached your brain yet.
This is an eater's manifesto as defined by New York Times Bestselling Author Michael Pollan in "In Defense of Food". I've referenced this statement before and I believe it's important. What does it mean and how will it help?
EAT FOOD. This means real food - not fast-food, or the 'frankenfood' lining the inner aisles of your grocery store. Skip the burgers & fries, the crackers, cookies, protein bars, macaroni & cheese, and other processed foods that are loaded with ingredients most of us cannot pronounce. Sure it's ok to indulge once in a while, but these foods should never be the star of your dinner plate. Even canned soups that so many think are somewhat healthy are loaded with sodium - try making your own at home instead.
NOT TOO MUCH. Remember "hara hachi bu"? Most of us are just eating way too much food and that excess leads to debilitating diseases such as type 2 diabetes, obesity, heart disease and more. Eat only when you're hungry and stop when you feel 80% full.
MOSTLY PLANTS. This is where Michael and I disagree a little. He says to eat mostly plants - I say to eat only plants. Yes, I'm a little biased, but there is plenty of research that suggests we can prevent, halt the progression of, and even reverse many of the diseases most of us believe are inevitable. I have been eating strictly plant based for over 3 years (no dairy, eggs, meat, or any animal-based foods) and have never felt better! And no, I'm not concerned about protein deficiency (which actually doesn't even exist). ;) I'm not saying you have to go all-in like I did though - just eat more fruits, vegetables, beans, legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds.
Yes, I said it. I believe New Year's Resolutions can be a good thing, if they're successful. Unfortunately so many people go to extremes and end up failing because they're not realistically achievable based on current/previous lifestyle habits.
For example, someone who never exercises decides to join a gym and start working out in an attempt to lose weight. Typically what happens is they give up after a few weeks because they're not seeing progress, they injure themselves, or they never looked forward to going in the first place.
Instead of resolving to be a completely different person, try implementing small lifestyle changes that will eventually become habits. Think about the end goal, but focus on taking it one step at a time. Here are a few tips...
Once you start to take these small steps they'll become second nature and you'll start to feel better without even trying.
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