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5 Healthy New Year’s Resolutions That Don’t Involve Losing Weight (And Are Actually Achievable)

5 Healthy New Year’s Resolutions That Don’t Involve Losing Weight (And Are Actually Achievable)

Let’s face it, when it comes to New Year’s resolutions, people generally don’t have the most successful track records. We set lofty, ambitious goals that seem super sexy when we’re setting them but leave us feeling inadequate and self-loathing a few weeks later when we’re right back where we started.

Remember the golden rule of goal setting? Always keep them SMART.

Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-Based.

So, why do the rules change when you’re setting health goals at the end of the year?

New Year’s resolutions are just bound to fail — only 9.2% of people actually feel as if they’ve achieved them, according to University of Scranton research.[1] For whatever reason, we set impossible goals that aren’t achievable, too vague, too restrictive and aren’t specific enough to measure properly.

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But, I’ll be honest, I’m a statistic too. So instead of setting myself up for failure and doing the ‘all or nothing’ approach when it comes to choosing my health resolutions this year, I’m going to try something different: set health resolutions that a) have nothing to do with losing weight and b) are small, incremental lifestyle changes that I can actually keep.

I’m tired of feeling defeated and deflated in February, when my big dreamy health goals have gone to the wayside. But by choosing to implement small changes and setting my habits differently than I did last year, I stand a greater chance of avoiding all that mess, and making real change in my health habits.

So, here is how I plan on prioritizing my health and wellness this year, that has nothing do with dropping a jean size:

Get better sleep.

It’s no secret that everything suffers when we don’t get a good night’s rest — our health, our job performance, our relationships and our happiness. With Arianna Huffington’s recent crusade to educate everyone about the sleep deprivation crisis we’re currently in, is there anyone out there who won’t prioritize getting better sleep in 2017?

As a self-proclaimed night owl, it’s too easy for me to neglect my night time routine. But, cleaning up my night time habits like putting my phone down earlier, banning the bedtime snacks and literally cleaning up my sleep environment will help me get better sleep.

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Studies have shown that when you keep your sleep environment clean, you get a better night’s rest. Luckily for us, we live in a time where anti-bacterial sheets are available, and the latest sleep innovation is a self-cleaning mattress. Talk about a dreamy bed!

Drink more water.

I don’t know about you, but I definitely feel better when I’m actually hydrated. Dehydration has been linked to triggering migraines, shrinkage of brain tissue and even dampening your mood.

There’s a reason that water is so vital to our well-being: it makes up almost two-thirds of who we are, and influences 100 percent of our processes. But instead of putting pressure on myself to get my eight glasses a day, I’m going to aim for hydration. If I’m feeling sluggish, cranky or feel a headache come on, I’ll reach for my water bottle first.

Eat more greens.

This one is pretty self explanatory but let’s dig into it anyway. Greens = healthy food. Healthy food = feeling good. Feeling good = better life.

I know first hand that when I eat more leafy greens and vegetables, I just feel better.

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But here’s the science: leafy greens pack a ton of vitamins and nutrients — vitamin A, C, E and K. Plus essential minerals like calcium, magnesium, iron and potassium. They are nature’s nutritional powerhouse.

Greens are essentially the number one food you can eat on a regular basis to improve your health. So here’s to hiding spinach in my smoothie, sprinkling some parsley on my soup and eating an entire batch of kale chips…instead of my regular wavy Lays.

Cut back on complaining.

Making the necessary health changes to better your life requires more than the physical work, it requires a mindshift as well. And, it’s no secret that complaining is just downright bad for you.

If you’re constantly complaining, you’ll never be in the right frame of mind to make any lifestyle change. According to science, complaining can be detrimental to not only your mental health but your physical well-being as well.[2]

When you’re constantly stressed, your cortisol levels are elevated — and that interferes with learning and memory, lowers your immune function and bone density, and increases weight gain, blood pressure, cholesterol, heart disease.

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Apparently, simply having a negative thought makes having another one easier. Negativity will start to occur more randomly, and eventually your personality just becomes negative. But gratitude and happiness can also work the same way, which brings me to my next point.

Practice self-acceptance

I’ve never picked a theme for the year, but since I’m approaching things differently this time around, I’m going to try and stick to one for 2017. The word I’m going to abide to is ‘enough’.

After (finally) reading Brene Brown’s ‘Daring Greatly,’ I’m starting to see that the true key to happiness isn’t material or checking things off my to-do list. It’s actually about showing yourself some compassion, and embracing the idea that you are already enough.

Self-acceptance is the number one habit that corresponds most with people being satisfied with their life[3]— but it’s the habit that we practice the least. Changing my inner dialogue to a positive one will probably be one of the best habits I’ve learned yet.

Featured photo credit: Allef Vinicius via unsplash.com

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Jennee Rasavong

Freelance Content Marketer

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Last Updated on May 22, 2019

10 Simple Morning Exercises That Will Make You Feel Great All Day

10 Simple Morning Exercises That Will Make You Feel Great All Day

There are lots of studies that show if you do some exercise in the morning, you will be in a better mood all day long. You will have more energy and you will certainly be a better colleague, friend or partner.

One psychologist at Duke University has researched the effects of exercise on depressed patients and he has come to the conclusion that exercise has a definite role in treating this condition and has an important role in preventing people from relapsing.[1] According to the New York Times, scientists have now established that exercise also boosts your brain power.[2]

In addition, there are studies from the Appalachian State University which show that blood pressure can be reduced by doing regular morning exercise.[3]

Here are 10 simple morning exercises that will help you feel great the whole day long. You can include some of them in your morning exercise routine or do them all at home without having to enrol in a gym. Consult your doctor before starting any form of exercise routine if you are new to this.

1. Cat Camel Stretch

Stretching exercises are useful for muscle toning and also preventing arthritis. They can either be dynamic or static.

Dynamic ones such as the cat camel stretch, are particularly useful for doing other exercises in the morning. They are also beneficial at other times of the day, especially after long periods of sedentary work. This one is great for spinal flexibility and is a good warm up exercise.

Kneel down on all fours. Start by rounding your back just like a camel so that your head will try to meet your pelvis. This is the camel position. Then lower and lift your head so that your lower back is arched. This is the cat position. Do these movements slowly and smoothly. About 4 or 5 times.

Here’s a video to guide you through:

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2. Go for a Walk or a Run

This is better done outside so that you can connect with nature but running inside on a treadmill is almost as good. You can time yourself and increase length and time according to your fitness program.

Always have new goals to reach. Start with brisk walking and work up to running. At my age, I am still walking!

The health benefits are considerable. You can build stronger bones and you can help to maintain your weight.

Also, you are helping your heart to stay healthy and keeping your blood pressure low.

Learn more about the benefits of running here: 8 Benefits of Running 5 Minutes Every Day You Didn’t Know

3. Jumping Jacks

Michelle Obama is a great fan of this exercise and has become “Jumper in Chief.”[4] They are great for cardiovascular health and also for toning muscles especially the calves and the deltoids.

Stand with feet together. Jump while spreading your arms and legs. Return to first position and keep going! You can start with doing these for 1 minute and then gradually build up to the number you are comfortable with. Here’s how:

4. Abductor Side Lifts

Watch the video below to see how to do this exercise. These muscles are important because you use them everyday to run, get into the car or onto and off a bicycle. They are very important also for your core stability and prevent the pelvis from tilting.[5]

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Do about 10 to 15 raises for each side like this:

5. Balancing Table Pose

This is a classic yoga pose. It benefits the spine, balance, memory and concentration.

Start with the table pose (hands and knees). Breathe in before starting each movement. As you exhale, raise your left leg parallel to the floor as you raise the right arm, also parallel to the floor. Breathe in as you lower arm and leg. Repeat for the other side. 10 repetitions on each side is a good starting point.

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    6. Leg Squats

    Not just legs are involved but also hips and knees.

    Stand with your feet a bit further out from your hips. Arms are out in front of you. Then lower yourself as if you wanted to sit down until you reach a 90 degree angle. You can go down further if you want to. Then return to the starting position. Repeat 15 times for 2 sets for beginners.

    The benefits are that these exercises help with knee stability and can benefit the leg muscles such as quadriceps, hamstrings and calves.[6]

    7. Push Ups

    You start lying down (face down) but with your body held up at arm’s length. Your hands should be in line with your shoulders. Breathe in as you lower your body. That is fairly easy. Now, as you exhale, you have to get back up to the starting position.

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    An easier version to start with is to bend your legs at the knees so you do not have to lift your whole body.

    Beginners may take up to a month to be able to do 100 push ups so you will have to start with a very small number and gradually increase it.

    This exercise is great for strengthening the chest, shoulders and the triceps. It is a great strengthening exercise for many muscle groups. In fact, most muscles from the toes to the shoulders are being used.

    8. Bicycle Crunches

    There are numerous crunch exercises targeting the abs. The bicycle crunch is a variation where you work more muscle groups. Aim for 15 to 20 reps to start off with.

    Watch the video to see how this is done correctly:

    9. Lunges

    Stand with feet shoulder width apart. Place your hand on your hips. Take one giant step forward with the right leg. Make sure the knee does not go too far forward, that is, past your toes. The left knee will go down to almost floor level. Alternate the legs as you go on.

    Try to do a set of between 8 and 12 reps for each leg. It is important to allow for a day of rest, so this exercise should be done on alternate days, especially if you are using weights.

    This exercise is great for strengthening and toning the quadriceps, glutes and hamstrings.

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    10. Bicep Curls

    You can do this sitting down so if you spend a lot of time on the phone, this is a great exercise to do.

    Choose suitable dumbbells or another household object that you can easily hold. Sit down with the dumbbell in your hand. You need to sit forward a bit so that your triceps can lean on your thigh to give you support.

    Then bring the weighted arm up to shoulder length and then down again. Exhale as you lift the weight and inhale as you lower it.

    Here’re some important notes before you start doing this exercise:

    Try to do one or two sets of about ten repetitions for each arm and then switch arms.

    These exercises are really useful for toning the arm muscles.[7] In addition, they can strengthen and tone the brachioradialis muscle located in the forearm. These are the muscles we use to pick up things when we flex the arm at the elbow so we use these muscles countless times a day.

    You may have to build in a rest day for the heavier exercises, numbers 6–10. On the rest days, you can do gentler stretching exercises and also some walking or running.

    Morning exercise is not only a great mood booster, but will help you keep your weight down and also sleep better![8] Start including one or some of these exercises in your morning routine!

    More Articles About Exercises for Beginners

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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