Top Healthy New Years Resolutions
1. Lose weight and Get Fit
Without a doubt the most popular New year’s resolution evolves around losing weight. We all know when January comes it’s that dreaded time for some to sign back up to the gym and eat as many Christmas chocolates as possible on the 31st of December… only to give in two weeks later. If losing weight is your new year’s resolution make 2015 the year you stick to your guns and reach your goals. When losing weight its vital to plan your progress and ask yourself: how much weight each week is maintainable and achievable? By expecting to drop a dress size or shed a stone over night you’ll only set yourself up for failure and disappointment. Losing weight and getting fit should be seen as a long term journey, where you should aim to enjoy each small step and milestone along the way. Pick a goal weight and a realistic amount of time to achieve this- set yourself milestones and monthly targets, making sure you stay happy and motivated. Starting a weight loss journey certainly wont be easy, and your bound to meet some obstacles on the way, but ultimately its important you stay happy and remember why you started in the first place, don’t be afraid to experience some set backs- nothing is perfect and more than likely you’ll have breaks from diets and training for birthdays, sick days and days when you’ll want to take a break and enjoy a cheat meal or two.
2. Build Muscle
Building muscle- whether this is to get big or just to slim and tone your body, is another popular New Year’s resolution, but how should you go about it? Load up on those protein shakes and grab the biggest weight you can find right? Actually, there is a hell of a lot more to consider than just protein and weights if you want to build muscle. First of all, similar to weight loss, you need to set yourself an achievable time frame- you are not going to get out of bed looking like the incredible hulk or with abs of steel after the first week of January. Next, take a look at your diet- are you getting the right ratio of macronutrients? For an average individual the ratio of protein:carbs:fat should be around 40:40:20, making sure you consume 1.2 to 2g of protein a day. Okay so now you can go lift?- yes but when it comes to starting a workout regime if your new to weights start by researching the exercises and finding out how much weight is right for you. So many people hit the gym on the first Monday of January only to injure themselves or not know what they are really doing. Take some time to learn the basics- You should aim to exercise a range of different muscle groups over the week, making sure you have the correct form and weight load.
3. Get Healthy
For some people setting a new year’s resolution is all about starting to make the right decisions for your body. When it comes to health and quality of life we really only have once chance to get it right and the choices we make now will only begin to come into effect in later years. In order to prevent chronic and age related diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular disease we need to optimise our health now to make sure we live a long and happy life without disability and morbidity. If you don’t already, start exercising every day- even just 30 minutes of moderate exercise can make all the difference. Then start analysing and looking for nutritional gaps in your diet: what are you not getting enough of and what are you perhaps getting too much of.
4. Cut Out Processed Foods
There’s a reason that processed foods last a hell of a lot longer than fresh fruit and vegetables and that’s because of all of the harsh chemicals that have been added. Whether its sugar, salt, sweeteners or fats, processed foods were never designed to be consumed in large amounts. Most processed foods are high in sugar which can contribute to weight gain and diabetes, and also contain large amounts of saturated and even trans fats. Whether your new year’s resolution is to lose weight, build muscle or get healthy- cutting our processed foods is the right way to start and one of the first actions you can take this new year.
5. Eat More Protein
Before making your new year’s resolution a decision to eat more protein you need to answer the question: what’s so good about protein? Consuming more protein in the diet can provide the body with a series of different benefits; for example, first of all, by being the most filling macronutrient lean sources of protein can help you to eat less and keep you fuller for longer: aiding weight loss. What’s more protein is important in the body for a series of physiological functions including the growth and development of muscle tissue. By consuming more protein you can help get lean sources of muscle and reduce body fat- especially when combined with a good exercise regime. There are tons of protein sources and ways to increase your protein intake available from lean meat and eggs, to milk and supplements such as whey protein.
6. Eat 5 Food Groups a Day
Dairy, Fruit and Vegetables, complex carbohydrates, Grains and Legumes, Meat and healthy fats- these are the five food groups you should be looking to consume every day. When it comes to fruit and vegetables the recommended intake is 5 a day, but in reality to gain maximum healthy benefits it is actually suggested that we consume up to 9 portions of fruit and vegetables a day- and more vegetables than fruit! Consuming complex carbohydrates high in fibre and low in sugar can help aid digestion and provide slow releasing energy, whilst meat, dairy and healthy fats can provide a source of protein, iron, omega 3 oil, and calcium. A varied diet should be a balanced diet- make sure you consume the right ratio of macronutrients and follow the saying “everything in moderation”.
7. Quit Smoking
After losing weight, probably the second most popular new year’s resolution is to quit smoking. Smoking is known to be a leading cause of cancer, respiratory and cardiovascular disease that also accelerates the aging process, whilst damaging your gums and teeth- so why do we still do it? If smoking is a habit you’ve taken up over the years, make 2015 a year to quit- there are plenty of guides, and even meetings and clubs that can help you quit smoking. Smoking at a young age will largely increase your risk of chronic disease in later life, whilst smoking at an older age can make you look older, causing poor health and damaging the health of others around you. For example, stats by the US Department of Health and Human Services (2004) reported lung cancer to be a leading cause of cancer death and the most preventable type of cancer, with smoking also causing various other cancers and increasing infertility.
8. Reduce Stress
You may not smoke, drink or eat unhealthy but if you’re stressed you may be putting your health at risk. Mental health is just as important as physical health, whereby stress can lead to a series of more serious health problems such as clinical depression, cardio vascular disease and cancer. Make sure you take time in 2015 to de-stress. Ask yourself, do you stress over thing that really aren’t worth stressing over? And if there are times that bring a great deal of stress focus on positive changes you can make now, focusing on a brighter stress free future. De-stressing can be done in a number of ways- try calling and spending time with friends, exercising and even meditating.
9. Cut Back on Alcohol
Most of us love a drink- whether this is only on special occasions or every Friday and Saturday night, but have you any idea what excess alcohol is doing to your health? It is recommended men consume 3-4 and women 2-3 units of alcohol a day, yet many of us after a glass of wine after work or a weekend binge can consume a lot more. In Britain alone the effect of alcohol is taking its toll increasing the risk of age related diseases and liver problems- not to mention if you’re trying to reach a fitness goal alcohol will most definitely be standing well in the way. Alcohol remains to be the third most preventable cause of death in this country and although you may not think you drink a lot, trying taking some time to evaluate how much you drink and try and cut down on alcohol anyway. By reducing alcohol intake you can aid weight loss and benefit your future health.
10. Try and do 3 Sessions of High Intensity Interval Training a Week
Exercise of any kind is good, but starting HIIT is even better. HIIT has a series of different benefits whereby taking part in HIIT can not only act to improve your physical fitness but also to increase your vo2 max/ aerobic capacity and cardiovascular health. Additionally, studies have shown that HIIT can improve insulin sensitivity, act as a rehabilitation for those with coronary artery disease and also accelerate the loss of fat- helping you to decrease body fat and become lean. There are tons of different HIIT routines from interval sprints to all out bodyweight interval training.
11. Get More Sleep
Sleep is over rated in the busy world of today, but did you know that a lack of sleep has been shown to increase the risk and development of chronic disease, high blood pressure and diabetes- overall decreasing life expectancy.
It is advised that a healthy optimum amount of sleep of 7-8 hours each night. Your body needs this time to recover and develop muscles as well as de-stress and re programme your mind. Whether you’re looking to reach a fitness goal or just improve health, sleep is an extremely significant factor. Try going to bed earlier on a night time and focusing on getting your 8 hours.
12. Get Organised
The final New year’s resolution for most people that comes hand in hand with looking to get fit, is to get organised! Buy a diary: plan your workouts, training and diet all in one place! By organising yourself, your priorities and your diet, you can achieve your new year’s goals and resolutions. They’re always room to be spontaneous but making sure you attend that weekly gym class and get that work done on time, can be the difference between keeping your new year’s resolutions or going down the same path as previous years.