HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Now that we're a couple of weeks into 2018, how are you feeling about your New Years Resolutions? Have you decided on them yet? Feeling overwhelmed by them? Already given them up?
There are many ways you can go about New Years Resolutions. They can be goals or mantras, to-do's or don'ts and honestly, whatever strategy feels right for you is probably the way to go! I'm not here to tell you how to set your resolutions. Personally, I just scribbled a bunch of motivational words & actions onto a piece of paper & the ones that really stood out, I translated to a white board above my desk - that's just what works for me! It's not necessarily my area of expertise.
My expertise is health & nutrition. Since a lot of New Years Resolutions seem to revolve around getting healthier or getting "in shape", that is where I feel I can weigh in! Again, whatever goals or mantras you have - KEEP THEM! If you thought of them that means they are important to you, resonate with you and therefore you're more likely to DO them. I am simply going to suggest my most highly recommended STEPS that you can take toward better health in 2018 and how to get around your excuses not to! No matter what your healthy resolutions in 2018, these strategies will likely help you get closer to achieving them.
1) GET IN THE KITCHEN
This may be the most important step toward taking control of your health. Get comfortable with your kitchen, play with your favourite recipes and learn how to make healthy meals that will help you achieve your health goals!
Cooking your own meals is the only way you can truly know what is in your food, control it AND tailor the flavour to JUST the way you like it. When we rely on eating out or ordering in we are handing over the reigns. The restaurant then decides what is ok for you to put in your mouth and, unfortunately, their job is to prioritize flavour that will get you hooked, not your health. From the oils they use to the salt, sugar, MSG and who knows what that they have the liberty to add, restaurant food can very quickly derail your health goals. Even if you order the healthiest thing on the menu, either it’s not as healthy as you think (what’s in that dressing!?) or it doesn’t taste nearly as good as it could if you made it fresh in your own home with the ingredients you enjoy best!
Make food that you love and that loves you back!
"No time." - Focus on one-pan or one-skillet meals. Or, get used to slow-cooker meals that you can throw together, leave all day and have dinner ready for you when you get home! No one has loads of extra time these days so it's OK not to spend hours in the kitchen after you get home from a long day of work. There are plenty of resources that provide plenty of quick and easy recipes that will work for you and any other mouths you've gotta feed. I recommend taking a look at pinterest, youtube, instagram and even good old google to search for healthy recipes you can try out today!
P.S. My next step will also help with time-saving, so KEEP READING!
"I can't cook." - Yes you can! Sounds easy for me to say, but I promise, I used to say the same thing and now I LOVE being in the kitchen. I went to school for nutrition, not because I wanted to learn how to be a healthy chef, but because I wanted to learn all about the medicine that food has to offer. It just turns out that you likely won't be able to maximize the goodness you're getting from your food if you're eating out all the time. So, I forced myself into the kitchen. I didn't love it right away but once I started trying new recipes and seeing a difference in how I felt, I became a cook! Again, sticking with quick and simple recipes is the way to go. Start with recipes that use less than 10 ingredients! If you really can't do it, I also might refer you to local cooking classes! They can be a fun thing to do with a friend or partner. Sometimes you just need a little hands-on help! If you don't want to leave your home, there are even some really good cooking classes on YouTube!
"I don't know what to cook!" - If it's that you don't know what foods will work best for you and your health goals, I can't help but recommend you see a nutritionist! Find someone who you resonate with, who understands where you're at and what you want to achieve and is able to walk you through the best choices you can make to serve your health. A good nutritionist should also be able to offer personalized recipes and recommendations for how to play in the kitchen! It's ok to need a bit of help. You can also always try reading health books and articles, etc. but I know this often leaves people more confused than when they started. Getting expert advice is my best advice on this one!
2) PLAN, MAN!
Planning ahead will make achieving your goals feel possible! It relieves the overwhelm and puts you in the drivers seat of your own life!
Planning ahead for your health includes scheduling workouts ahead of time, creating weekly meal plans, & pencilling in your grocery trips! I would also encourage looking ahead in your week and carving out time for you to do whatever it is you love doing the most - reading, painting, hanging out with friends! Planning all of these things takes the panic & guesswork out of what you're going to eat, when you're going to find time to sweat and making sure you're nurturing both your health and your happiness.
Getting used to meal planning can take some time. I recommend looking ahead at your week. What nights will you be in? Who will be eating together? Pick meals that you know will work for you and the amount of time that you have on those days. I usually recommend making meals that will serve you for at least dinner and leftovers for lunch the next day - this will save you time, money and getting stuck making unhealthy choices on your lunch break.
Planning your workouts ahead of time is all about pushing compliance. If it's already in your calendar, you know you have the time and you're more likely to do it. If you play it by ear, it's easy to talk yourself out of it.
Whether you use iCal, google calendar or a handheld agenda find a way to pencil everything in. Although it may feel confusing and stressful at first, once you get the hang of it, it becomes the single biggest stress relief when it comes to achieving your health goals.
"No time" - Initially, It does feel like another "to-do" but ultimately, planning ahead will save you time. It will prevent ho-humming over what you're going to make for dinner or sauntering through the grocery store, unsure what you're even looking for. You will know what you are doing with every minute of your time, so you can maximize it!
"I don't know how" – Here is a quick little crash course: Find a calendar, write out the words "breakfast", "lunch" & "dinner" for each day. Plug in recipes, including leftovers, for each slot. Take a look at the ingredients from each recipe you've chosen and make a grocery list. Now you're ready to shop & cook for the week! DONE! It's really just about carving out a moment to look ahead at your week, your schedule, and deciding what will work for you. There are plenty of resources online that can guide you through it and, again, a good nutritionist should be able to help you learn to do it yourself or provide the service for you!
3) PUT SOME PREP IN YOUR STEP
You're already mastering meal planning so why not try some prepping too!? The two kind of go hand-in-hand. If you have planned out a week of beautiful meals, incorporating leftovers, etc, it is easy to see what meals you can prep and freeze or what ingredients you can pre-chop. Again, this saves you time later!
I recommend at least chopping up your veggies and having them ready in airtight containers for simply throwing into a skillet or tossing in the oven. If you can, do it as soon as you get home from grocery shopping and be done with it. Having them there and ready will help curb the temptation reach for a bag of ready-to-eat chips instead!
"No time." - This is something that will also save you time in the long run and when you really need it! You're saving time when all you have to do is heat something up when you get home from work. You're saving time when you can avoid standing in line for food at lunch because yours is all ready to go! You're saving time when you can just grab those overnight oats from that you tossed into the fridge the night before and run out the door! It's also likely you'll be making healthier choices than you would be otherwise! Win-win!
"I'm too tired." - Fair. You're busy and you work hard. I'll just remind you that those veggies have to be chopped eventually if you're going to cook with them, so this step really just makes cooking easier in the long run! I would also encourage you to avoid looking at it as hard work. Once again, focus on simply & easy recipes. I'd also suggest you get help if you can! Bring your partner or even your kids into the kitchen. Anyone can chop a few carrots! Make it an event that you can share, not a chore! I might also recommend you put on music while you prep or listen to a podcast! This often helps me to feel like I'm multitasking and enjoying myself by learning from a podcast or at least having fun (making it feel less like work!) when I'm dancing around the kitchen listening to my favourite tune!
4) BECOME A MAD SCIENTIST!
Experimenting in the kitchen with different flavours and ingredients can open up a whole new world of fun and appreciation for your healthy food!
This step expands on step number one. Now that you're in the kitchen, MIX IT UP! We often get stuck in a routine, eating the same thing over and over again because its the only thing we're comfortable with and know is healthy. That's what makes it easy to resent healthy eating. There is an abundance of healthy foods & recipes to experiment with out there! Don't get stuck in same old, same old!
"I'm picky" - Fair enough. If you're a picky eater or you're feeding picky eaters it can be difficult to find a variety of recipes that work for everyone. However, I will stress that it takes at least 3 times of trying a new flavour for your taste buds to adjust and really decide whether they like it or not, whether your a child or an adult! If you have a memory of spitting out brussels sprouts the first time you ever tried them and have sworn to stay away from them forever, try them again! Try them cooked a different way, in a different sauce, or with a different spice! You never know until you try... at least 3 times!
"I don't know what flavours work together" - I understand. I was so afraid of experimenting in the kitchen because I felt like I would ruin a meal if I put the wrong flavours together just because I wanted to try something new. And that's fair! No one wants to waste food or be stuck eating something nasty because you got too excited. But, like many other skills, it becomes intuitive over time! Start with just trying a whole bunch of different recipes that you find online or that your Momma gave you. To me, that still counts as experimenting, as long as you're trying new things. Eventually, you might start to get a sense of what flavours compliment each other and start to make your own tasty creations. Just do whatever you can to keep things fresh!
5) KEEP TRACK!
I DO NOT MEAN COUNTING CALORIES! When I say keep track, I mean of how you feel! Start to notice when you eat something and feel like you have enough energy to run a marathon or when you eat something that makes you feel like a zombie and hungry for anything soon thereafter. Increasing your awareness to how food makes you feel is a huge step toward really understand the value of eating well and appreciating the difference it makes! You're much more likely to stick to healthy eating when you really know how much better you feel when you do!
Additionally, I'd recommend keeping track of your blessings. I often recommend gratefulness journaling for clients looking to embark on a big health journey. I tell them to take the time in the morning to write 3 things they're looking forward to that day and, at night, write 3 things they were grateful for that day. This keeps a positive attitude around any challenging experience and forces you to look for and live in the positive. I find when clients do this they see greater success in achieving their health goals.
"No time." - All it takes is waking up 5 minutes earlier and taking 5 minutes before bed. It is so worth making that time! Then it's just about living in the moment and being aware of yourself, what you eat and what makes you happy throughout the day!
Adopt these 5 habits to help you reach your health goals in 2018 and you will get there faster, more efficiently and be way less stressed out about it in the process! You can do it. This is your year!