Yes, it’s the holidays and many of you are fired up for the new year! I know I am! While there are many things that you may be focusing on, it’s easy to let that momentum go and slide into old habits. Let this be the year your health goals stick! Read further to know how and what health goals you should be making this year to positively change every aspect of your life.
A new year is a common time to set resolutions. But resolutions are not really goals. They are often too ambiguous and unmeasurable. And everyone knows you can’t track what you can’t measure. So whatever it is you want to achieve, whatever your health objectives are, turn them into goals this year.
Here are some easy and actionable steps to help you stick to your health goals this year:
- Set Goals: Do it in a way that increases your chances of actually accomplishing them. I first heard of the SMART technique while listening to Michael Hyatt on his podcast. Simply put, well-defined goals are Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, and Time-bound.
- Limit to two or three: Limit your goals to two or three goals you can focus on per month or per quarter (whatever is a realistic timeline for your goal).
- Write them down: Keep those goals visible. Review them daily. Measure your progress towards them. Studies say that you increase your chances of actually accomplishing your goals if you write them down. I recently purchased these functional dry erase boards just for that. They were so easy to install! And now my goals are always right in front of me as I go through my morning routine.
- Keep them to yourself: Have you ever stated your goals to someone? Notice how great it probably felt? Did you know that if you announce your goals out loud, your brain reacts almost as if you have already achieved them? This action alone can take the steam out of your sails before you ever get started. So share your goals only with those few who will keep you accountable and can provide help and support.
Your 2019 Health Goals
Below I listed 9 great ideas to get you going on your own health goals. Feel free to borrow from this list or make your own, but remember the rules above to help you achieve them.
1. Be present
I get it. We’ve all been there. Frantically rushing from one thing to another; juggling children, work, chores, finances, etc. Trying to find some time for self-care which often looks like five minutes locked in the bathroom listening to our favorite song or scrolling through social media.
Somewhere in the middle of all this, I often find myself thinking how we may feel more accomplished and complete if we just sit still and reflect on the moment. Instead we rush through the work week just waiting for the weekend; then turn around and rush through the weekend waiting for Monday again. I mean, can we all agree that it’s just no way to live?!
When will we learn to enjoy the actual moment? So I challenge myself and each one of you to a new health goal. Pick at least one minute every day, look around you and just take the moment in. Regardless of how hectic, stressful, sad, hilarious, or ridiculously mundane it may be. Because life is just a collection of these tiny little moments. We should do all we can to find something of value in every single one of them. This will inevitably lead to a healthier and happier state and help us reach our health goals. Right?
2. Take the stairs and park further
Better yet, walk everywhere within a mile and bike distances under 5 miles. These small changes provide you with some exercise to get your heart pumping, help you burn extra calories, and build muscle tone. While that’s already great, you will be doing the environment a favor as well! Over time these changes can make a significant impact on your health.
3. Get your zzz’s
I’m preaching to the choir, don’t I know it?! But were you aware of the damage you inflict on yourself every time you decide to be more “productive” and skip out on that extra hour of snoozing? Here are some facts guys and gals:
- You can’t actually “catch up” on lost sleep by snoozing a bit extra over the weekend.
- Lack of sleep is very significantly tied to a number of illnesses and chronic diseases including heart disease, diabetes, obesity, depression, Alzheimer’s, and even various cancers.
- Sleep deprivation drops your creativity and negatively affects your ability to memorize things.
- It causes weight gain: When you are overtired, your body releases cortisol, a stress hormone; at the same time it lowers production of hormone leptin ( which controls satiety) and increases production of ghrelin (increasing feelings of hunger). This certainly will sidetrack you from achieving your health goals.
- It makes you believe you are productive. This last one is for all of you type A’s out there. A
ccordingto recent studies, those who regularly skip out on sleep believe they are considerably more productive than they really are.
4. Try intermittent fasting
Intermittent fasting (IF) is a diet protocol in which you restrict your food intake to particular hours of the day. The normal fasting window prescribed is 16 hours, allowing for 8 hours of food intake. Several other fasting protocols exist so you are able to choose one that suits your lifestyle best. There are a number of studies suggesting the stress created by limited fasting produces a positive response in many biomarkers. Intermittent fasting allows our insulin levels to stay low long enough to encourage the body to use fat stores for energy. It just could be the real game changer to help you on the way to your health goals this year. For more information on intermittent fasting, different variations of the diet, and ways to ease into it consider this resource.
5. Switch to a mineral sunscreen
There is a vast difference between the generic drug store sunscreen (aka chemical sunscreen) and a mineral based one (aka physical sunscreen). Let me summarize these differences in the following points below:
- Chemical sunscreen works through skin absorption.
- Mineral sunscreen acts as a number of tiny mirrored particles sitting on top of your skin.
- Chemical sunscreen makes its way into your body as well (
there’sbeen studies finding active ingredients from chemical sunscreen in over 70% of women’s breastmilk).
- There’s no evidence to suggest that the active ingredients in chemical sunscreen are safe for children or adults.
- Mineral sunscreen is in fact very safe for both adults and babies.
- Chemical sunscreen is a large contributor to the destruction of coral reefs through a process known as coral “bleaching” as well as marine life that depends on the coral reefs.
For more recent studies and additional information go to the Environmental Work Group website.
6. Set a daily routine
Studies show that having a predictable routine can have the following benefits:
- Improved mental health
- Better cognitive function
- Decreased chance of mental disease including depression and bipolar disorder
- Lessened chances of developing insomnia and lower stress
- Increased likelihood of getting things done
- Helps you find time for other things you may feel passionate about thereby inviting creativity and productivity into your life.
I think the power of routine is so important that I will be writing several more posts diving deeper into the subject. Routine can really help you on the road to achieving whatever goals and objectives you set for yourself.
7. Get outside
Whether it’s for a run or a walk, going outside can have a lot of benefits. Seriously, just consider these alone:
- Provides an opportunity to unplug from all electronic devices
- Stimulates your endocrine system
- Reduces chances of S.A.D. (Seasonal Affective Disorder) many of us experience every year
- Lowers production of stress hormones
- Decreases chances of depression
- Walking in nature improves memory
- Walking or running outdoors reduces inflammation and lowers blood pressure
- Spending time outdoors lowers fatigue and ads a boost to creativity
- Improves your immunity: Forest environments might even be great for your immune system
- Lowers risk of death overall: Exposure to greenery and outdoor environments regularly
isassociated with a lower risk of death.
8. Drink more water
Our bodies are more than 80% water. So it stands to reason that being properly hydrated carries great benefits. It positively affects everything from weight and digestion, to brain function, to the health of your skin. If you have a difficult time ditching the sweet drinks, really consider replacing them with flavored water. There are so many alternatives out there. Tea is also a great choice. It provides a number of benefits regardless of whether it is black, green, white, or even herbal. Bonus? Drinking more water is likely to help you shed more weight. Something to keep in mind if that is one of your health goals this year.
9. Eat avocados
Because Avocados are life 🙂 I love avocados. They are such a versatile fruit. Avocados also have a number of health benefits that should make you love them, too:
- Nutrient-dense at just 60 calories for a serving (about a fifth of a fruit) they are a good source of many vitamins and minerals.
- Great source of omega-3 fatty acids (the good kind!)
- They are considered heart-healthy due to a plant sterol called beta-
sitosteol. This plant sterol might help you reach healthy cholesterol levels.
- Avocados can very well improve your vision due to antioxidants which help protect our eyes from sun damage.
- They are rich in vitamin K which is essential for proper bone health.
- Avocados contain folate (the naturally occurring kind) which studies show can protect against many kinds of cancers, although the mechanisms aren’t yet known. By contrast, chemical forms of folic acid have been linked to cancers.
- Because they contain high doses of naturally occurring folate, they are great for ensuring a healthy pregnancy.
- Avocados can even make you happier.
- Although you wouldn’t expect it, avocados are high in fiber (12-14 grams for a whole fruit).
- They may boost your immunity and lower inflammation!
- They contain saponins which may relieve symptoms of knee osteoarthritis.
What goals are you pursuing this year?? Do you need more ideas for health and fitness goals? I got you covered!
Have you found other tips you want to share for sticking to your goals and resolutions? Comment below! And as always, thanks for reading. Till next time 🙂