With the New Year now firmly under way and feeling decidedly more exhausted on your return to normality, you (hopefully) resolve to lead a healthier lifestyle. You’re not alone but before you embark on an extreme approach to kick start your resolutions, take a moment to consider your plan of action. Are you about to embark on an approach that you’ve tried and failed with in the past? Are you focusing on what you will need to restrict or abandon in order for you to achieve your health goals? No more sweets, chocolates, desserts, alcohol, take-aways, meals out, etc etc.

Sound familiar?

In essence, it is likely that you will need to consider the amounts of such foods and activities if you truly wish to improve your health but this harsh negative focus has proved over and over not to achieve lasting change.

However, there is another approach that’s more positive and more attractive to make your New Year resolutions more successful

Why not focus on what you can add to your life to improve your choices? More Exercise, more vegetables, more fruits, more nuts/seeds, more sleep, more rest and relaxation, more time to take up new hobbies, more time with the family, more time away from screens etc. By adopting this more positive approach, you will naturally have less time for previous less healthy lifestyle choices. Likewise, your plate will fill up with healthier choices, leaving less room for the foods you are trying to avoid.

Try to avoid thinking of this as a diet or fad that you’re embracing with the enthusiasm often reserved just for the start of a New Year. Instead, by adopting this more positive approach, you are more likely to enjoy your new lifestyle choices and will begin to enjoy the benefits in no time. There is a much higher chance that these changes become part of a more sustainable new lifestyle.

So, as you are not embarking on a “diet”, there is no need to wait for Monday… or tomorrow… or next week….or after that birthday celebration, planned meal out or party. You can simply begin by taking small steps all eventually leading to a sustainable healthier lifestyle.

Give yourself the best possible start with these 3 simple steps:
  1. Get Moving and Stay Active

    Fatigue and feeling sluggish make our days very hard to get through and you may find yourself caught in a vicious circle; the less active you are, the harder it is to motivate yourself to get up and about and engage in a physical activity.

    At the beginning this can certainly be the case but adopting a “mind over matter” mindset will go a long way to initiate the impetus you need to get started. For example; Make a plan to walk or work out at the gym, at a certain time of day for a 10, 20, 30 or 45 minutes. Put it in the diary and make it happen, ignoring any commitments or excuses that get in the way or whether it’s cold and miserable outside. It is highly unlikely you will regret your decision to exercise (even if the weather is awful), you are more likely to regret not doing the exercise you had planned to do but haven’t for whatever reason. It is also important to factor more activity into your day-to-day schedules; using the stairs rather than the lift or escalator, walking to school or to the shops and in between meetings are all ways to ensure you stay active during the day.

  2. Carefully Consider your Plate

    No more haphazard servings! From now on, take the time to carefully consider how your plate is made up. According to BANT guidelines, the Wellness Solution recommends that your plate is made up of:

  • One Half Vegetables; these can be made up of leafy greens such as broccoli, spinach, cabbage or cauliflower as well as onions and salads
  • One Quarter protein; choose fish, chicken and eggs more regularly with red meats only occasionally. Avoid processed meats. Pulses such as beans, lentils and chickpeas as well as nuts/seeds all provide vegetarian sources of protein and are good to include regularly
  • One Quarter complex carbohydrates; these include root vegetables like carrots, squash, sweet potato and parsnips as well as wholegrains such as brown rice, quinoa and oats. Limit refined grains such as pasta and bread.For a printable version of the BANT Wellness Solution, CLICK HERE

If you’re looking to lose weight, then you can adjust this ratio, so that you increase the protein and reduce the carbohydrate.

There is no need to weigh your foods, it’s simply a case of ensuring these proportions on your plate visually.

  1. Embrace a bedtime routine

    Sleep is so important and skimping on sleep can really work against you, causing weight gain and contributing to your lack of energy during the day. Aim for 6-8 hours of sleep each night. By introducing a regular bedtime routine, you will effectively allow yourself permission to switch off at this time every evening and begin to wind down gradually at the end of the day.

Try the following:

  • Have a soak for 20mins in a hot bath, using an aromatherapy oil or Epsom salts; these contain Magnesium, which is the body’s natural relaxant and will help to induce a good nights’ sleep
  • Switch off all electronic devices and preferably do not have them at your bedside. If you rely on your phone as an alarm, perhaps consider an old fashioned alarm clock instead.
  • Have a warming herbal tea drink like chamomile or ginger tea
  • Read a book or light-hearted magazine of interest. Try to avoid anything that will stimulate your thoughts to work issues.
  • Aim to keep the same timings every night

Allow around 45 mins, if possible, to focus on these relaxing habits to give yourself the best chance of falling asleep quickly and ensuring good quality of sleep right through until the morning.

What are YOUR barriers? Let me help in the comments below and we’ll get you off to a positive and successful start to the new year.

I originally wrote this article for www.healthista.com