We’ve thoroughly enjoyed the festive season and raised a glass to the New Year – and now we’ve all woken up in 2017. If like us you have overdone it a tad over the holiday season, you might be thinking about how to reverse some of that damage!
We are determined to have a healthy start to the New Year and have prepared some health and fitness resolutions to reverse the blow-out of Christmas excess. So here are our New Year’s resolutions for healthy living for 2017:
1. A Killer Breakfast
It’s all too easy to wolf down sugar-packed cereal in the morning when you’re in a rush. But before you reach for cereal or toast and jam before heading out the door, take a moment to think up another quick breakfast that your body will thank you for.
If your give yourself a extra five or ten minutes you can prepare a healthy breakfast that sets you up for the day, keeps you full and packs in all the nutrients.
Make sure your brekkie includes some protein, such as an egg or a handful of nuts, as this improves satiety. Combine this with some healthy carbs, such as whole grain bread.
Muesli is a good choice if you use skimmed milk and add a banana, berries and yoghurt.
Another great breakfast choice is scrambled eggs on wholemeal bread with fresh tomatoes on the side for a vitamin and mineral boost.
A clean(er) diet is one of the most important New Year’s resolutions for healthy living!
2. A Productive Sleep
Sleep is important for us all but after over-indulging you could find that you are waking up regularly throughout the night, leaving you unrefreshed and tired when waking up.
Having a good sleep is not about the length of time spent in bed but how productive those snooze hours are.
Always keep the temperature in the bedroom cool – researchers say the optimum is 16 degrees C. Also ensure the room is suitably dark. Some people prefer soft music to help them sleep, while others find a blackout blind necessary.
If you can pinpoint what makes your sleep time most productive you will feel the benefits all the next day with improved mood and concentration. Great sleep is all the more important when you’re exercising regularly, which brings us to our next resolution…
3. Regular Interval Training
If you have always been one for long runs and twice-weekly gym sessions, this year shake it up and inject something new. Incorporate a couple of interval training sessions into your routine to give your body a boost.
This means performing cardio at a high intensity for a couple of minutes, followed by a lower intensity for a couple of minutes, then repeating for 20 minutes.
By switching up the intensity dramatically, your body burns fat far more efficiently than it does during a long, low intensity workout.
Try intervals while running, cycling, swimming or rowing. Regular intervals will melt any extra Christmas pounds.
4. Daily Meditation
Many people think meditation is new age, hippie stuff. Well, that might be the case, but it is surprisingly powerful. After all, the mind is strongly connecting with the body.
Regular meditation helps to calm the emotions, focus the mind, relax the body and improve many aspects of your health.
Simply take ten minutes out each day to sit quietly and comfortably and focus on your breathing. If you find your mind wandering, force it back to focusing on your breath.
This is such a calming experience it can help you gain perspective and re-energise your focus in all aspects of your life.
This kind of mental focus can also be used to perform visualisation techniques. Think about what you want from your health and fitness aims this year and visualise how you will feel when you achieve them.
Simply visualising success can really help you achieve your goals as it boosts your confidence and motivation.
If you can’t bring yourself to actually meditate, just try to be mindful. Being aware of your own body and thoughts can help to boost your mood and bring a sense of calm.
5. Ditch the Processed Food
It’s easy to reach for a frozen pizza or ready meal when you’re pushed for time but processed foods are terrible for your health. Instead of sausages and pre-prepared foods, grab a baguette and a tin of salmon for a filling snack.
Cooking proper meals is even better. Taking an extra 15 minutes to actually cook rather than just heating up convenience food can be a brilliant investment for your health.
Even when pressed for time, simply by switching out the bad food and bringing in healthy alternatives, we can change the way we eat without feeling like we are going on a ‘diet’.
It is often just about habit. If you find yourself reaching for crisps and unhealthy snacks while watching TV, this can be identified as a ‘danger zone’. So from New Year why not prepare healthy snacks, such as carrots and hummus, for something to nibble on while channel hopping?
Nuts eaten in moderation are also great for heart health (but not salted peanuts!) – try walnuts, almonds and brazil nuts.
Make those swaps at the supermarket a permanent New Year’s resolution. Choose wholemeal over white bread, pasta and rice and start including more fresh veggies and fruit.
Even if you don’t like some vegetables and fruits you can always include them in your diet as a smoothie or juice – just pop them into your juicer and your veggies become a convenient drink.
6. Monitor Your Health
Half the battle of maintaining good health and fitness is listening to your body and giving it what it needs in terms of food, exercise and sleep. But the other half is actively monitoring your health to make sure you are in good shape, both outside and in.
It is a great idea to buy a blood pressure monitor. If you get your blood pressure tested at the doctor’s surgery, ‘white coat syndrome’ often means it reads higher than normal. This is due to the stress and discomfort or being at the doctor’s and not in your own home.
Make it a New Year’s resolution to test your blood pressure at home regularly. Aim for a reading of around 120/80 for ideal blood pressure. Another way to monitor yourself is check your heart health using the NHS tool to test your heart age.
If you are overweight, a simple way to forget the BMI charts and simply measure your waist. Grab a tape measure and hold it firmly around your natural waist, which can be found by bending to the side and finding the crease. For good health, your waist measurement should be less than half your height.
Finally, one of the most important ways to keep track of your health is to always attend the heath checks you are invited to, such as the free NHS health check for over-40s.
It’s easy to forget, to postpone or to just ‘leave it for now’ but regular health checks mean that if anything is slightly off you will find out sooner rather than later and it will be much easier to deal with. Annoying, convenient, awkward perhaps – but necessary for optimum health.
Plus, if you are in good shape, you get instant affirmation from a medical expert, which is always nice!
So there are our 6 New Year’s resolutions for healthy living. The next step is to stick to them beyond February 😉
Keep a track of your progress and don’t forget to visualise where you want to be 6 months from now – that is the key to your motivation!
Whether you want to be leaner, stronger, fitter, more muscular, more relaxed, or just generally healthier in body and mind, January is a great place to start your journey to better health.
What are your New Year’s resolutions?