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Should You Still Make New Year’s Resolutions

Should You Still Make New Year’s Resolutions

Most articles on making healthy New Year’s resolutions will tell you not to waste your time. Let me show you how they actually may serve a good purpose whether you follow through on it or not, and how to make them truly effective.

Health & Wellness Is All Around You

Once that calendar flips over to a new year, there is no ignoring the usual desires that come with it. Lose weight, stop smoking, eat better, spend less on macrame jean shorts. Ok, that last one might just be me.

But here’s the thing: the stats are not on the side of actually following through on your new resolution. There is a very small percentage of people that are able to follow through on complete life overhauls but they are in the minority, like people who watch Keeping Up With The Kardashians to improve IQ scores.

Just because the failure rate on New Year’s resolutions is high, doesn’t mean they should be chucked to the curb like your withering Christmas tree. There are a few mindset changes you can make to have healthy New Year’s resolutions become more effective.

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1. Whether You Like it or Not, it’s a Reminder to Get Your Butt in Gear

For as much as people say it’s a waste of time to start improving your nutrition or joining a gym in January because it will fizzle out, I don’t think that’s the case. At the very least it serves as a reminder for you to take control of your health each year. Even if it’s only once a year, it’s like a little nagging reminder that you should move things in a healthier direction. If you don’t acknowledge it in January, the thought might still pop up a few months later.

Sometimes, there just needs to be something in the back of your head telling you to make some good changes. This might go on for a few years, but there can also be that year where you are totally ready and it all finally clicks in.

The point is to make that year THIS year.

2. You Are Allowed To Start Small

This is what is truly behind all the failure rate stats: people taking on too much, too soon. If you’ve gone from eating Taco Bell three times a day and your physical activity revolves around clicking the “Are you still there” button on Netflix, you’re going to need to start small. Diving head first into 3-hour workouts and eating rice cakes and broccoli all day is going to become a huge shock to your system. This could overwhelm you and eventually lead to you throwing in the towel.

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No matter what your goals are, the secret is to start small and slowly add in good habits. You can build a healthy lifestyle by mastering a new habit until it becomes second nature. This means starting with something simple and doing it for at least a week or two so it’s familiar. Then you can move on to another one. It’s gradual, comfortable, and you’re more likely to stick with it.

Here are 3 health habits to start out with that are simple but effective.

1. Slow Down Your Time Spent Eating

This doesn’t even require changing what you eat but can help you avoid overeating each day. The average person is eating so fast that they are overriding the fullness signals that go from your stomach to your brain saying you’ve had enough. These naturally occur but take around 15-20 minutes to engage. Most people are eating in 3-5 minutes, sometimes quicker, and don’t allow this natural mechanism to do its job.

You may have had enough food, but your body hasn’t recognized that yet. When that happens, you continue to consume more calories than needed. So whenever you eat, be conscious of the time. Set up the timer on your phone or watch a clock and take at least 15 minutes. This can help you consume less each time and also make digestion and absorption easier for you.

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2. Drink More Water Each Day

Most people are walking around in dehydrated or close to dehydrated states. It’s not always recognizable because dehydration doesn’t only mean crawling through a desert in rags. The problem is this: if you’re not getting adequate water, then you’re throwing your body out of whack. Among other things water is critical for:

  • Digestion
  • Absorption
  • Circulation
  • Regulation of body temperature
  • Cognitive function
  • Transport of nutrients through the body
  • Sports and exercise performance

Your aim is to drink about half your body weight in ounces each day. So if you’re 150 pounds that’s 75 ounces of water. When you figure in a cup of water being 8oz, that equals around 9 cups a day. Since most large drinking glasses can hold close to two cups, you’re at around 4-5 large glasses a day, which is very doable. Another tip I’d give you is to have a glass or two first thing when you wake up to get your body up to speed quicker. Throw in some squeezed lemon and it really kicks up the cleansing and detoxification.

3. Eliminate Or Drastically Reduce Sugar

Now you’re looking at a real change. If you’re like the average person, you’re consuming far too much sugar and sugar is really getting exposed for all the damage it can do. The ‘big three’ dangerous health risks in the United States are obesity, heart disease, and diabetes, all of which are associated with too much sugar consumption. It’s not hard to see that it is something that needs to be eliminated.

I won’t lie, it won’t be easy thanks to the addictive nature of sugar and the fact it’s pretty much everywhere. If you can start cutting out manufactured and processed foods, that will be the best start as that’s where sugar is going to show up. If there’s one thing you do, at least cut out liquid sugar. Don’t drink your calories. That means eliminating soft drinks, juices, and sports drinks. Just this alone can make a huge difference to your health.

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Wrapping It Up

Obviously, your health and wellness go a lot deeper than these three tips. However, if you’re looking to make a change, this is a good place to start. These are tips that aren’t overwhelming, rather they are straightforward and easy to implement. Like I mentioned, don’t do everything at once. Start out with one and go with it for a few weeks until it feels comfortable. Then, move on to another.

If you let yourself gradually adopt new healthy habits every few weeks, by the end of the year you may be looking at a complete overhaul to your health and wellness. So when that calendar flips for the next January, you’ll already be ahead of the game.

Featured photo credit: Paul Wilkinson via flickr.com

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Jamie Logie

Jamie is a personal trainer and health coach with a degree in Kinesiology and Food and Nutrition.

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Last Updated on December 9, 2019

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

Everyone experiences mental stress at one time or another. Maybe you’re starting a new career, job, or business, or you feel incredibly overwhelmed between work, parenting, and your love life (or a lack of it). It could even be that you simply feel that you have way too much to do and not enough time to do it,  plus, on top of everything, nothing seems to be going the way it should!

Yup, we all experience mental stress from time-to-time, and that’s okay as long as you have the tools, techniques and knowledge that allow you to fully relieve it once it comes.

Here are 5 tips for relieving mental stress when it comes so you can function at your best while feeling good (and doing well) in work, love, or life:

1. Get Rationally Optimistic

Mental stress starts with your perception of your experiences. For instance, most people get stressed out when they perceive their reality as “being wrong” in some way. Essentially, they have a set idea of how things “should be” at any given moment, and when reality ends up being different (not even necessarily bad), they get stressed.

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This process is simply a result of perception and can be easily “fixed” by recognizing that although life might not always be going as YOU think it should, it’s still going as it should—for your own benefit.

In fact, once you fully recognize that everything in your life ultimately happens for your own growth, progress, and development—so you can achieve your goals and dreams—your perception works in your favor. You soon process and respond to your experience of life differently, for your advantage. That’s the essence of becoming “rationally optimistic.”

The result: no more mental stress.

2. Unplug

Just like you might need to unplug your computer when it starts acting all crazy, you should also “unplug” your mind.

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How on earth do you unplug your mind? Simple: just meditate.

It isn’t nearly difficult or complicated as some people think, so, if you don’t already meditate, give it a try. Whether you meditate for 5 minutes, 30 minutes, or 2 hours, this is a surefire way to reduce mental stress.

Meditation has been scientifically proven to relax your body (resulting in less mental stress), while also reducing anxiety and high blood pressure.

3. Easy on the Caffeine

Yes, we know, we know—everyone loves a nice java buzz, and that’s okay, but there’s a fine line between a small caffeine pick-me-up and a racing heart and mind that throws you into a frenzy of mental stress.

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Try giving up caffeine for a while and see how you feel. And, if that’s completely out of the question for you, at least try to minimize it. You might find that lots of your mental stress mysteriously “disappears” as your caffeine intake goes down.

4. Attack Mental Stress Via the Back Door

That’s right: your body and mind are part of the whole being, and are constantly influencing and affecting each other. If you’re experiencing a lot of mental stress, try to reduce it by calming your body down—a calm body equals a calmer mind.

How do you calm your body down and reduce physical stress? A  great way to reduce physical stress (thereby reducing mental stress) is to take natural supplements that are proven to reduce stress and anxiety while lifting your mood. Three good ones to look into are kava-kava, St John’s wort, and rhodiola rosea:

  • Kava-kava is a natural plant known to have mild sedative properties, and you should be able to find it at your natural health food store or vitamin store. It’s available in capsules or liquid extract form.
  • St John’s wort is a natural flower used to treat depression. Again, it’s found at your local health store in capsules or liquid. Because it uplifts mood (enabling you to see the brighter side of all experiences) it helps relieve mental stress as well.
  • Rhodiola rosea is a natural plant shown to reduce stress and uplift mood, and Russian athletes have been using it forever. Like the other two supplements mentioned, rhodiola rosea can be found at your natural health store in capsule or liquid form.

While these supplements are all natural and can be very helpful for most people, always check with your health care provider first as they can cause side-effects depending on your current health situation etc.

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5. Good Old-Fashioned Exercise

This tip has been around forever because it works. Nothing relieves mental stress like running, kickboxing—you name it. Anything super-physical will wipe out most of your mental stresses once the exercise endorphins (happy chemicals) are released into your brain.

The result: mental stress will be gone!

So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or just plain stressed, try using some of the above tips. You can even print this out or save it to refer to regularly.

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