Here we are again at the beginning of a new year: a time full of setting goals and making plans for the year ahead. Focus shifts back to health for many of us after getting sidelined during a busy holiday season. The challenge is to harness that focus and turn it into action. It’s easy to say, “I want to get healthy”, but what does that mean to you? We’ve got to be specific with our intentions. It helps us to measure our successes.
Start by asking yourself what makes you feel healthy. Is it eating more vegetables? Getting some exercise? Drinking more water? Getting more sleep? Lowering stress? If you’ve got a long list of things you want to improve (and who doesn’t?), make yourself a monthly calendar. Choose one goal per month to work on and start with the one that’s most important to you. This helps to make that long list seem more manageable. When we try to do too much at once, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and throw in the towel (see blog: Four Tips for Keeping your Weight Loss Resolutions). Then add 1-2 specific actions you’ll take to reach that goal. Let’s keep things positive. Keep the focus on what you get to add in instead of what you could be taking out, especially when it comes to food.
- January – Start New Workout
- Week 1: Choose a workout that sounds fun and get any tools needed
- Week 2: Choose 2 days and do work out for 30 minutes
- Week 3: Choose 3 days and do workout for 30 minutes
- Week 4: Choose 5 days and do workout for 30 minutes
- Continue: Choose what works best for you. If 5 days is unlikely to continue with your current schedule, do 3 days of 45-60 minutes instead.
- February – Eat Veggies Daily
- Week 1: Make a list of your favorite recipes and quick dishes. Keep the ones that include veggies and decide which veggies you can add to the ones that don’t have any.
- Week 2: Get shopping! Buy veggies for the week and prep them when you get home: clean carrots, slice peppers, chop broccoli. Include veggies in at least 4 dinners.
- Week 3: Include veggies with every dinner this week. Use them for snacks on 2 days.
- Week 4: Include veggies with all dinners, at least 3 lunches, and 2 snacks.
- Continue: Make sure you get at least some veggies daily and add extra whenever possible. Add leftovers to soup, stew, and/or chili over the weekend so they don’t get tossed. (Now you’re set for next week’s meals!)
Avoid quick fixes, like detoxes (they don’t really fix anything at all). Avoid buying pricey supplement systems and weight loss programs and use that money towards more veggies at the grocery store. Don’t sign up for a 1-year gym membership when you know you’ll be bored with that treadmill by month 3. Find some YouTube videos to do in your living room or take a walk with your spouse to catch up on your day. Use the money you save for a relaxing vacation when you meet a big health goal and reduce your stress at the same time! Now that’s a win-win.
If you need help setting up your goal calendar or need some new ideas, I’d be happy to talk with you. Come see me soon.
Nicole M. Matala, MS RDN CSSD LDN CDE
Registered Dietitian, Raleigh Medical Group