Health and Wellness: Setting Yourself Up For Success In The New Year

Happy New Year!!!!

This is the month where everyone jumps on the bandwagon. You hear it at work and at school drop off, “I’m going to cut out sugar…I’m going to hit the gym more often…I’m going to finally lose weight.”

Resolution. What a daunting, depressing word. But it doesn’t have to be, if you are SMART about it.

So, what’s on your list for 2016? I am going to guess you want to eat healthier and exercise? According to Twitter,  “lose weight”, “exercise” and “be happy” top Canadians’ list of New Year’s resolutions. But, a 2013 US study found only 8 per cent of people achieve their goals; 54 per cent are back to their old ways by March.

So: how do you be the 8 percent? How do you achieve your goals? Be SMART.

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SMART is simple, and trainers use it as a way to help our clients achieve success. It stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timed. A five-pound weight loss in two weeks isn’t realistic. Yes, you can go on a cleanse and shed pounds quickly, but it is more likely you will gain those back just as fast. Changing your diet – introducing more plant-based products into your diet, cutting back on refined sugar and carbs (or cutting them out altogether for January, along with dairy, and gluten and soy…. to see how you feel) isn’t a bad idea. Kourtney Kardashian swears that cutting out dairy helped her shed 10 lbs.

But a better SMART goal for getting healthier is to measure inches lost over pounds, and to see how you feel in your clothes. Muscle weighs more than pounds, and if you are working out (which you will be!), you might gain muscle mass.

Most importantly, apply SMART goals to your fitness routine. If you are already running, is there a race you might want to train for in the spring – a 5K, 10K or half-marathon? There are tons of programs and apps (and a lot of free ones – I love the Nike app) to help you train for races, and you can also join a community of peers to keep you accountable (or meet for weekend runs).

SMART goals aren’t pie in the sky. They make you look at your life and see what is important. Obviously, being healthier is something we should all be striving for – whether that means cutting down on sugar (I know I need to), decreasing caffeine, eating more fruits and vegetables, exercising at least three times a week, meditating and getting the right amount of sleep.

The list towards good health is long – but it doesn’t have to be daunting. We live in an era where technology is here to help you, too. 2016 has already ushered in predictions in the health and fitness industries. One is the rise of tracking and monitoring your workouts, and the other is the rise of streaming and video workout content. This really is the wave to ride – with websites like Daily Burn and Gaia TV bringing you great workouts right to your living room, it makes keeping fit that much easier (watch for a review of Streaming Video at http://80-percent.com/).

Use SMART goals in all areas of your life. Let’s say you want to meditate: you’ve done the research, and you know that meditation changes your brain for the better, boosts your health, increases happiness, reduces stress. But…the idea of meditation stresses you out. Set your alarm for five minutes earlier, light a candle and simply breathe. Start with five minutes, and build your way up. Be gentle with yourself.

Exercise is a hard habit to make stick. Use SMART goals – be specific and realistic. How often can you really get to the gym? Is it impossible? Why not register for an online streaming fitness content site that focuses on yoga? Easily accessible resources make your fitness goals achievable. How many times did you start running, or go to the gym for a few weeks…only to have it dribble off again a month later? Life gets busy, and exercise is one of the first things that goes out the door. Making a goal that that is achievable will have a lasting impact.

And what about healthy eating? I would love to survive on a diet of salted caramel cupcakes and chocolate chip cookies, but it wouldn’t be healthy. How do you set SMART goals for healthy eating? You commit. You stock your fridge with fresh food, fill your plate with vegetables, limit your processed food, cook more, and make sure your pantry is full of healthy choices. You get healthy recipes sent to your inbox every day. And you make yourself accountable – let friends and family know you are trying to be healthier.

On that note, I am making a personal plan to give up sugar. I have done it before, and felt fantastic. But, like anything, old habits are hard to break – especially when sugar is in everything. Stay tuned for my February blog, with tips to tame the sugar beast within us.

I also believe in living life the 80/20 way. We can’t get it right all the time. Even if it is January, and you’re cutting out sugar, you might slip. That’s ok. Try to do your best 80 percent of the time, and allow for treats and indulgences.

Be SMART, set yourself up for success, and be gentle with yourself!

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