It’s officially the new year, aka the time to set goals and aspirations for the next twelve months. From “dry January” to crash dieting, everyone starts off a new year with extreme habits in an effort to get healthy and lose those sneaky extra pounds of holiday weight. But, this all-or-nothing approach leads to failure because such a dramatic lifestyle change is not sustainable.
It’s exhausting. Going from 0-100 may feel great for the first week or two, but a month later the donuts at work are an easier breakfast than making eggs and binge watching Stranger Things is a lot more appealing than hitting the gym for the 6th day in a row. It is important to craft a wellness regime that is comfortable and practical. It is also important to ease yourself into this new wellness regime, especially if you’re new to working out and eating nutritiously. That being said, written below are my realistic and achievable new years resolutions for nutrition and fitness.
I cannot emphasize enough that nutrition is everything when it comes to weight loss and muscle gain—you cannot out-exercise a bad diet. A helpful tip to keep in mind is the 80 / 20 rule: losing fat and achieving a healthy body is 80% diet, 20% exercise. That’s not to say fitness is negligible; if you want a perky butt and toned arms, hitting the gym is a must. But we all must start somewhere, and that somewhere is your diet. Come January 1st, people cut out gluten, sugar, dairy, you name it. These kind of extreme, all-or-nothing approaches only lead to failure in the long run. You must ease yourself into a healthier diet and lifestyle. Give your body the carbs, fats, and sugars it craves, but in healthy forms. Instead of bread, get your carb fix from a sweet potato or brown rice pasta. Instead of sweets, get your fix from a clean dessert or fruit. I also advise against cutting out food groups (i.e. no gluten or no dessert). You can have your cake and eat it to! Well, in moderation at least. Treat yourself at least once weekly, and I promise your new diet will be a whole lot more enjoyable and sustainable. These new years resolutions shouldn’t be looked at as a temporary health phase; living nutritiously and being fit is a lifestyle, and it must be a lifestyle if you want to keep off the weight you lose. You must dedicate some time to your new lifestyle; take the time to plan, pre-make, and pack your meals for school or lunch. Take time to make grocery lists. Take the time to plan what workout classes you’re going to take this week, and sign up so you don’t get lazy last minute.
As stated above, losing fat is 80% diet, 20% fitness. Getting a flat stomach happens in the kitchen, but getting a round butt and arms that don’t jiggle happens in the gym. Like dieting, it is important to start off small when it comes to fitness in order to achieve a sustainable routine. There is literally nothing worse than resenting fitness. But when people start out a new year exhausting themselves for hours in the gym every single day of January, working out becomes a burden. It’s not fun, it’s not something you want to do. But it should be, and that’s why it is key to start small. Start going to the gym or taking workout classes 2-3 times per week. Figure out what workouts you like and don’t like, and stick to the ones you love. Devote your workout time to both cardio and strength; it’s important not to put all of your energy into just one of these categories. Yes running on the treadmill burns calories, but it won’t help you gain muscle. On the other hand, not only does lifting weights burn calories, but it actually increases your metabolism. Plus, the more muscle mass you have, the more calories your body will burn while you’re sitting at your desk at work. Most importantly, working out should be something you look forward to. It has so many more purposes than losing weight; from decreasing stress, to having alone time, to increasing your energy levels, to getting that burst of endorphins, working out is just as good for your mental wellbeing as it is your physical wellbeing.
LISTEN TO YOUR BODY
I think this is the most important rule of your health-oriented new years resolutions. If you ate clean throughout the week, then drink the damn wine and eat the damn cake on date night. Put that extra butter on your popcorn at girl’s night. Let yourself live! Deprivation in any area of life is unhealthy; it leads to an unhealthy mindset and resent. The same rule goes for working out. Whether you had a long day at work, the nanny cancelled, or you’re just so damn tired, you absolutely do not have to make it to the gym! Shit happens, life gets in the way, and you’re only human. That being said, in order to achieve your new years resolutions, you can’t beat yourself up if you don’t make it to the gym. You must not deprive yourself of enjoying delicious treats. Everything is moderation is perfectly okay. More than okay, actually.