Every year around this time the world goes mad with possibilities. The excitement of a new year hangs in the air and people mumble to themselves that it’s going to be different this time. This January first they really mean it. No more games. No more excuses. This year is going to be the year. Right?
We all know the drill. It’s hard to keep up the buzz of excitement for very long. The doldrums of January and the Valentine’s Day candy of February slowly pull us away from our goals, and we slide back into familiar unhealthy habits. What we must do is be prepared. It’s one thing to say “I’m going to get healthy!” It’s another to have a specific plan for how to accomplish this, and a strategy to combat anything trying to derail you. In this post, I am sharing 5 Ways to Stick With Being Healthy in the New Year.
1. Pack your lunchbox with more food than you think you’ll eat. It is better to take some food back home than to be stuck at work, ravenously hungry at 3 PM. I usually plan out my meals and snacks, then add at least one extra item. The extra food is usually between 100-200 calories. Celery sticks aren’t going to fly here, so don’t try them. You need actual food.
2. Look at your craving as a wave. It will wash over you, peak, and then subside. In the moment, a craving for unhealthy food of any kind can make you feel like you’re drowning. You’re not going to survive if you don’t eat the chips/cookie/candy bar. It can seem impossible to overcome, but if you view it as an ocean wave, it will help you stay strong. It’s not going to last forever. It make seem like you’re dying now, but in a little while it will subside. Practice acknowledging the craving and breathing through it.
3. H.A.L.T. before giving in to your craving. Are you Hungry? Angry? Lonely? Tired? This is a strategy that has really helped me recently. When I think I need an unhealthy food, I pause and go through these four letters. If I’m hungry, an apple or some steamed broccoli will help. If I don’t want that, it’s a craving. If I’m angry or emotional, I need to walk away from what I’m doing and take a breather. If I’m lonely (and I would also insert bored here), I can reach out to a friend or significant other. There are plenty of activities to participate in that don’t involve eating. And finally, if I’m tired, I need to go back to step 2 and remain there until I can get some rest. Make rest a priority! There is no time where our willpower is more compromised than when we are exhausted.
4. Keep a food journal. Write down everything you eat and drink each day. If you like, use an app on your phone like My Fitness Pal or something similar. However, don’t fall into the trap of counting calories and thinking that french fries are okay because you have 500 calories left for the day. It’s important to keep a food journal for at least a few weeks. This way you can notice the patterns and natural rhythms in your life and plan for them. Are you hungrier on some days than others? Do you struggle more on the weekend than during the work week? What unhealthy foods do you go back to again and again? It’s crucially important to be honest. You have to write down every single morsel that passes through your lips. Being honest with yourself is the only way to stay on track.
5. Get an accountability partner. A lot of people balk at this one, but it’s so helpful! Reach out to a friend and make a commitment to that person to stay on plan. Share your food journal with him or her, and tell them when you are struggling. Make sure that this person isn’t going to accept excuses when you go off plan. And remember, you have to be honest.
Hopefully these tips make this New Year’s healthy resolutions stick! From one junk-food-aholic to another, I know how it feels. The struggle is real. Don’t give up! Take it one minute at a time if you have to. Nothing tastes as good as healthy feels.