It’s America’s favorite New Year’s Resolution: to finally get in shape….this year….for real! If you’ve set health-oriented resolutions and failed to achieve them in the past, don’t give up. Rather than reaching for large-scale gains that may discourage you, consider developing these simple, doable habits in 2017.
- Don’t eat unless you’re sitting down. It’s simple but brilliant. If you only eat in a deliberate fashion while sitting down, you can eliminate mindless snacking such as grabbing a brownie or chip every time you walk by the kitchen.
- Pre-portion your snacks. If you sit down in front of the T.V. with a spoon and a carton of ice cream or a huge bowl of popcorn, it can be hard to stop. Decide in advance what you consider to be a sane portion, and sit down with that instead. It might be a half-cup of ice cream in a dish or one cup of popcorn. Pre-portioning your snacks can keep you out of the danger zone of unmonitored snacking.
- Eat slowly. Life comes at you fast. As a result, many of us eat far quicker than we should, then run off to the next commitment. Slow down! Take small bites. (Use a baby spoon if you like.) Chew thoroughly and take small slips of water in between bites. Eating slowly gives your body a chance to realize that it is full so you’ll be less likely to overeat.
- Commit to 25 minutes of fitness per day. The best kind of exercise for you is the kind that you’ll do. There’s no rule that you have to take up running or endure lengthy exercise videos. Most of us can squeeze 25 minutes out of our day. If possible, plan your exercise time during a part of the day when you feel the most energetic. If you have a surge of energy when you wake up, opt for morning fitness. If you rev up later, exercise in the evening. Mix up your routine to keep yourself interested. You might try taking a brisk walk, jump roping, following along with a fitness video from You Tube (there are plenty—type in “25 minute” workouts), or executing a routine of push-ups, sit-ups, and pull-ups. Stick to your 25-minute resolution, and your body will make it a habit. If you miss, your body will feel the difference.
- Establish a good bedtime route. Sleep deprivation can ramp up your appetite, making you feel hungry even when you’re not. Commit to a set bedtime each night and stick to it. Don’t wait until the last minute when you’re out of willpower to start your routine. You might try brushing your teeth immediately after dinner. (Then, it’s done for the evening, and you’re less likely to snack.) Consider starting your other routines (washing your face, turning down your bed) 30 minutes to an hour before bedtime. That way, when it’s time to hit the hay, you wont’ be tempted to lollygag when your energy and willpower are low. Don’t turn on the T.V. or video games until your bedtime routine is done and you’re all ready to roll into bed. If you do enjoy a little screen time after your bedtime preparations are complete, make sure you turn it off when your preset bedtime hits.
The idea behind habits is that they can become so automatic that your willpower can take a back seat. If you have to make healthy choices anew each day, you may not always make the right choice. But if your body and mind are programmed to perform these healthy habits day in and day out, they will simply become part of your default routine.