For many, the new year is a fresh start and an exciting time to set some goals for self-improvement. For some, this means setting health-based goals such as losing weight, starting a diet, or beginning a new exercise routine.
While most New Year's resolutions come from a good place of trying to be healthier, happier versions of ourselves; often, our methods are drastic, involving new habits or routines that simply aren’t sustainable long term.
How many New Year’s resolutions have you made, only to find yourself giving up only a few weeks into the year? It’s time to break the cycle.
This year, set resolutions you can actually keep. Below are 8 healthy New Year’s resolutions that are sustainable and practical – choose one or a few to focus on for the year.
1. Find Exercise You Enjoy Doing
Exercise doesn’t have to be boring, in fact, I’m a big advocate of exercise being a fun part of your day that you enjoy, and dare I say look forward to. When you love what you’re doing, it’s so much easier to stick with it, and rather than extra stress in your day, exercise will feel more like self-care.
Choose an activity you enjoy and start by finding a few specific days to add it to your weekly schedule, rather than trying to cram it every day. Making a realistic goal can improve your chances of making your new routine last, especially if you're new to working out.
Having trouble finding something you enjoy? Give our free workouts on the Sunny Health & Fitness YouTube Channel a try! We’re always adding new workouts to keep you having fun while working out at home.
2. Get Better Sleep
Getting a good’s night sleep can help increase exercise performance, improve brain function, and lower your risk for disease. There are many reasons why people experience a lack of sleep, so it’s important to focus on your lifestyle, what you can control, and areas you can improve to maximize your quality and quantity of sleep.
To start, pay attention to your schedule - are you getting in bed on time? Are you limiting screen time before sleep? Are there any distractions from sleep you can limit?
Next, consider what you do throughout the day - are you drinking too much caffeine that may be keeping you up at night? Are you feeling stressed? Consider relaxation techniques you may be able to practice before bed like meditation, reading a book, or taking a hot bath to reduce your stress levels.
There are so many ways to improve your sleep, but it’s different for everyone, so find what works for you and put it into practice!
3. Eat More Whole Foods
While limiting and restrictive diets are a dime a dozen come New Year’s, one of the easiest and most sustainable ways to improve overall health is to include more whole foods in your diet.
A whole foods diet emphasizes eating and cooking with foods that are fresh, and minimally processed. Whole foods - such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, seeds, nuts, and legumes - contain beneficial nutrients and vitamins, and retain their natural fiber, all of which are typically removed or stripped in the final product of processed foods.
Rather than focusing on what you should limit in your diet, simply focus on maximizing real, whole foods to make healthier choices. The best thing about eating more whole foods, is you don’t have to do a whole diet makeover at once, just start with small simple steps, like eating a serving of vegetables with your dinner, and add on more as you feel ready and confident to take that next step.
4. Make Time to Practice Self-Care
Many people, especially those who spend the majority of their time taking care of others, may feel guilty or selfish for taking time for themselves. However, self-care is imperative for your overall health and wellbeing and will help power you to take even better care of others around you.
For those who are busy, or have trouble finding time in their schedules for ‘me-time’, it may take a little extra planning and scheduling. However, a little self-care can go a long way, and once you implement it into your regular routine, you’ll realize how worth it is to make time for yourself.
Self-care can be anything you want it to be, as long as you’re taking time to improve your health and/or mental wellbeing. It could mean making time for a workout or preparing a healthy meal. Or it could look more like taking yourself to the spa, going out to dinner with friends, or taking time to journal before going to sleep each night. Whatever self-care looks like for you, carve out that time this year, and make it happen. You’ll be all the better for it, I promise!
5. Spend More Time Outdoors
Spending time outside can improve your mood and decrease stress levels. Especially with the amount of time so many of us have been spending indoors this year, making time to get outside for some fresh air, and taking in the beauty of the outdoors can do all of us some good.
Try going on a walk on your lunch break, take your dog to the park, go on a hike on the weekend, or simply sit in your backyard and soak in the fresh air and beauty around you. There’s plenty of simple ways to add nature and the outdoors into your day, you simply have to plan them into your schedule.
6. Cook More Meals at Home
Eating out isn’t always unhealthy, but often restaurants use unhealthy, processed ingredients we may not use when cooking from home. Try cooking at home more often, focused on trying healthy meals for your family to enjoy.
If cooking isn’t your favorite, get your family involved in the fun! Cooking can be a great stress reliever and a good way to connect and rewind from the day when done together. It’s also a great way to teach kids measurements and basic cooking skills.
7. Move More Throughout the Day
If you find yourself sitting at your desk for long periods throughout the day without much movement, you may be at risk of being too sedentary. A great New Year’s resolution is simply adding more movement during your day. Go for a walk on your lunch break or make a goal to get up from your work and go on a five-to-ten-minute walk once every hour.
If you can’t find time to escape from your desk, consider investing in a mini under desk bike, it makes it easy to add movement into your day without having to step away from your work. Check out this article on Best Sunny Health & Fitness Deskercise Equipment for more ideas. Or give this desk stretching routine a try to relieve tight and tense muscles.
8. Stop Negative Body Talk
While wanting to be healthier is a good goal, for many who make changes based on their physique such as getting more toned, bulkier, or losing weight, appearance can become an unhealthy obsession. Talking negatively, or even thinking negatively about your body can lead to low self-esteem and spiraling stress. A great New Year’s resolution can be to stop the negative body talk and practice being more positive.
Rather than focusing on what you don’t like about your body, begin to positively shift the conversation about your body by noticing and being proud of the things you do love about your body. Each time you catch yourself with a negative thought, replace it with a positive one.
In this way, you can practice reframing your mindset about your body, and learn to love your body more throughout your entire journey, rather than when you’ve reached your final destination. Your body is an incredible vessel that allows you to do so many amazing things in life, learn to cherish it and treat it with love and respect!
Many New Year’s resolutions are ones that are not reasonable or sustainable, making them hard to maintain for very long. Make this New Year’s different by picking a few of the resolutions above to practice creating a healthier relationship with food, and taking better care of your mind and body, and this time next year, you’ll be a healthier, happier you.