It’s the New Year! Can you feel it? It feels fresh. It feels new. A chance for us to start again. Researchers call it “the fresh-start effect” when we use the New Year to set health goals. Despite this, studies show that only 9% to 12% of us are successful in achieving our goals. This year, it’s time to try easy health goals.
Why is this? According to the feedback I’m getting from my clients, which is also backed up by research, the biggest reasons we fail are because:
- We set unrealistic goals.
- We overwhelm ourselves with too many resolutions.
So this year, let’s maximize our chances of succeeding. Let’s keep things simple and focus on making a few, small, actionable goals. Join me in lowering the bar so we can celebrate our achievements!
Here are three easy health goals to help you win this year.
1. Eat More Fruits and Vegetables—The Easy Way
We all know that we need to eat more fruits and vegetables. The benefits of a plant-based diet are as well-researched as they are incredible. In fact, studies suggest that plant-based eating is an affordable, low-risk way to lose weight, reduce blood pressure, and lower cholesterol levels.
So, if you want to feel better and improve your health this year, increasing your daily intake of fruits and vegetables is the quickest, simplest, and easiest way to do that. Especially if you are one of the 9 out of 10 adults in the United States that do not eat their recommended daily intake.
But wait… there’s more! In addition to being the easiest way to improve your health, the magic multiplier effect is that by adding good stuff to your diet, you will naturally reduce the bad stuff.
Add before you subtract.
Add before you subtract was the game-changing approach that helped me transform my eating habits. While this advice may sound counter-intuitive in a diet culture that is driven by deprivation, adding goodness crowds out what doesn’t serve you. This research-backed tidbit does double-duty by helping us develop a positive mindset while it improves healthy eating. Consider the following examples:
- Adding more water will reduce the amount of soda you drink.
- Adding some fruit after dinner will keep you from too many cookies.
Changes like these are more sustainable because they’re more enjoyable. We get to focus on adding nice things to our lives instead of gritting our teeth while we give up stuff we like. When we enjoy it more—we stick with it longer.
Another way to safeguard your healthy eating goals is to start small. You don’t have to go all-in on some crazy meal plan to get results. It takes time and effort to change our eating habits—so expecting a total turnaround all at once is a recipe for disaster. That’s why I think small when I’m trying to change my habits:
- Add a green smoothie to your morning routine. Do that every day until it’s second-nature and you’ll start your day with a bang!
- Add an extra veggie to every dinner you cook this week to see if you can sneak in some added nutrients the easy way.
- Give Meatless Monday a try or opt for vegetarian lunches to ease your way into more plant-based eating.
Don’t those commitments feel more attainable than doing a full one-eighty on every meal you eat?
Give yourself a break.
Kick off the new year by giving yourself a break. If you’re like me, you’re probably still recovering from the holidays. Instead of starting this year with your plate overflowing, start by giving yourself some precious time back. I do that each January by setting my healthy meals on auto-pilot so I can take a break from cooking, shopping and meal planning.
This gives me more time to make this year the best I possibly can from the get go. I can read a book, thoughtfully set my intentions for the year, spend some quality time with Brian, and free up time to move my body when I’m not spending so much time cooking.
My tried and true way to add yummy and healthy food into my diet without spending hours meal prepping or cooking is by ordering Splendid Spoon! They’re a meal delivery service that sends ready-to-eat meals straight to your front door. With 50+ delicious dishes to choose from, there are plenty of vegan, gluten-free, non-GMO, low sodium and no added sugar options to explore. My go-to favorites include:
- Grabbing a delicious pre-blended smoothie for an extra energy boost when I’m rushed in the morning.
- Picking a yummy soup for lunch to avoid the dreaded fast-food run between meetings.
- Grabbing a delicious noodle or grain bowl (my favs!) to get dinner done in minutes when I don’t have time to cook.
I also love finding a great deal! Splendid Spoon is offering $105 off 4 boxes for my wonderful readers (that’s YOU!) right now.
Busy nights are bound to happen. You deserve an easy button like Splendid Spoon to keep you on track.
2. Make Foolproof Fitness Goals
The benefits of getting enough exercise are proven and powerful, including living longer, and protection from lots of serious health problems like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and yes, even some cancers. For those of us with chronic diseases, exercise can also help manage our conditions and reduce health problems.
Despite these benefits, and our best efforts, it can be difficult to reach our fitness goals. We’ve all been there. We set goals, we join a gym, we sign up for yoga classes, and then we fizzle out before January is even over.
Let’s aim for success this year with easy health goals. Create achievable fitness targets and ensure they are realistic to avoid disappointment.
I have trouble finding time for exercise too, and it’s often the first thing that gets nixed when I’m busy. But, instead of beating myself up for skipping yet another workout, I give myself a little extra love and try again. If you’re looking for tips on how to minimize the chance that you miss your workout, try the following:
- Move where you are, when you can! Exercise doesn’t have to mean hours at the gym or taking expensive classes. Try doing a few sit ups during TV commercials.
- Make small, incremental changes. Just like adding more good foods to your diet, you’ll be less overwhelmed with exercise if you focus on small changes. Instead of jumping straight to hour-long workouts, add a 10 minute stroll after dinner or park farther from the office door.
- Schedule it. What gets on the calendar gets accomplished, so be sure to set aside 10 or 15 minutes for movement when you plan your day—then stick to it.
Add follow-through goals.
Instead of focusing on making fitness goals, make follow-through goals! Realistic goals are joyful. But they don’t mean anything unless you plan the follow through. For me that means an accountability buddy. Creating new habits requires both repetition and support. We are pack animals, motivated and fulfilled by sharing our experiences. Try the following:
- Team up with a friend or family member that has similar fitness goals and check in with them daily or weekly.
- Join a fitness club. This doesn’t have to be a gym or class, it can also be a walking club or even a sports team.
- Find or join a fitness-focused social media group. If you can’t find in-person support, look for virtual support. A great option is an Inner Circle Wellness membership. Let me and my community of wellness warriors help you build and stay on top of your wellness habits.
At some point in our lives we start to value work over play. We begin to focus on doing what we’re supposed to do over having fun. When we do this, we run the risk of forgetting what it’s like to feel good and celebrate life. Movement is a great way to inject some fun back into our lives—to renew ourselves. I’m here to tell you that if you don’t enjoy working toward your fitness goals, you’ll probably never get there. Here are a couple of ideas to get started:
- Reintroduce an activity that you loved doing when you were a kid. Ride your bike, dust off the skateboard, walk through the woods. Do you remember hopscotch? Childlike play equals instant joy.
- Learn something new, for example try Tai Chi, rowing, or archery. You are only limited by your imagination. Nowadays, if you can’t find a local class you can probably find one on YouTube.
3. Organize Your Healthcare Now
My third choice as an easy health goal for the New Year is probably the easiest and the most overlooked at the same time. This goal is simply to make all your major annual healthcare appointments now. This goal is especially important for people like me who juggle multiple healthcare providers. However, this is the best way to stay on top of your health and avoid important self-care falling through the cracks. A few tips to get you started:
- Schedule the time in your calendar to make your healthcare appointments so you are more likely to follow-through.
- Make your appointments for the earliest date possible. This way, if life happens, you still have time to reschedule before the end of the year.
- Don’t forget the dentist. No one likes the dentist, but your check-ups and cleanings are an important part of maintaining your overall health.
Regardless of the goals you set this year, make them simple and focused. This will increase your chances of success. Then make sure to celebrate every success! Because every small goal achieved adds to our confidence, improves our mental health, and motivates us to keep working towards our goals. This way we can make our own good luck every day of the year.
Your turn: What’s one way you’ll make your goals smaller and easier to accomplish this year?
Peace & Happy New Year,
Not sure if Splendid Spoon is right for you? I was skeptical about meal delivery services before I tried them, too. I literally write my own cookbooks! But after giving it a chance, I realized that even the most seasoned chef can use a break from the kitchen now and then. Splendid Spoon gives me the perfect back-up plan so that busy nights don’t leave me stuck with bad options to feed my family. Check them out to take a little pressure off your sweet self, too!