It’s not too late, you guys!
We’ve assembled some tips to help you hop back on that healthy train, assuming your New Year’s resolution involved diet or exercise, of course. We’re here to help.
1.) Get a big whiteboard. Or a brand new 2021 planner. And prepare to use it -- you need a visual that reminds you each and every day, what has to happen. If you’re aiming to overhaul your diet, start writing down your meals on the board. Trust us, once you write “pizza” for the third night in a row, you’re going to start to feel pretty silly. Or if you’re trying to become a regular gym-goer, mark yourself a big fat X on each day you made it in. It’s so rewarding to arrive at the end of the month and see most of your calendar or board covered in Xs. You need a visual aid. Once you start to see some progress, you won’t want to stop.
2.) Break up with the idea that you're going to go from the couch to a daily bootcamp. Seriously, it's not too late to get in shape. But you need to start small. Prove to yourself that you can hit the gym twice a week consistently before you bump it up to three times. And then four. If you get in over your head early, you're more likely to drop out. Don't be that person!
3.) Evaluate what kind of person you are. For you, do exercise and healthy eating go hand in hand? Or are you OK with making some better dietary choices overnight? Personally, I can't just snap my fingers and start making salmon salads. I have to get into the yoga grind, or start running, to then feel like "I can't negate this workout with wings and beer!" But this is your lifestyle change, so you have to be honest about who you are and how you're going to reach your goals.
4.) Just aim to make one meal a day a little bit healthier. We read this in a magazine actually, but it seemed like a pretty good tip if your diet's really in the gutter. Maybe begin with breakfast. Fill up on protein so that you'll stay full for awhile, and it'll get your day off to a nice start.
5.) Lose this “all or nothing” mentality. Yes, life is going to get in the way. Maybe you aimed to start running outside but it’s been raining all week, or maybe your child care fell through, or maybe you’re traveling, so your schedule is all over the place. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: Don’t throw in the towel, especially because of some small setback. Just make some modifications. If you’re on the road and you have to eat fast food, just get a burger or sandwich but skip the soft drink and the fries. Pass on dessert. Squeeze in a brisk walk even if you can’t make it to CrossFit. Little things like this add up.
6.) Wear your jeans, even around the house. Leggings and sweats are way more comfortable; we're all too aware. But really, when you wear forgiving pants all day, you might forget about that tummy bulge that you've been working so hard to get rid of. Wear your jeans. They don't have to be your size-2s from college, but real pants will remind you when the button's getting a little too tight, to perhaps pass on second helpings.
7.) When it comes to exercise, do something you genuinely enjoy. Do you hate running? This isn’t gym class; no one said you had to run. There are SO many classes and fun workout options these days. You could get a Peloton (pricey, but they’re really having a moment). Or buy some other kind of at-home option if that’s your jam -- workout DVDs are much more affordable than a Peloton. Or, have you tried hot yoga? How about spinning? Just start Googling and you’re going to find a million options.
8.) A goal is motivating, too. Sign up for a race now, so that you won't back out down the line. Post about it on Facebook or Instagram. Ask your friends if they'll train with you. Hold each other accountable! It'll feel indescribable when you're crossing the finish line of that 10-mile road race together.
9.) Set out your workout clothes the night before. Buy a few new pieces if that'll help you lace up your shoes and get out the door. Or maybe it's new music that will motivate you. Set up those playlists in advance or even get some new headphones. Anything it takes, right?
10.) Change your mentality. This isn't about pounds or inches. (Although, if all goes well, you'll likely achieve those goals too, with time). For now, just think about your heart, your overall health and wellness, and how much stronger you're getting. You'll live longer to keep up with your kids, and maybe even your grandkids. You're setting a fantastic example for those around you. Those are major positives!
11.) Go easy on yourself. You had a day of less-than-stellar eating? It was just a day. Don't let it turn into a week or a month. Hop back on that healthy horse in the morning and start fresh. Be like the quarterback who just threw an interception. Shake it off! Oh, and don't beat yourself up if you're starting a new workout regime. You're not the best spinner in the room? You're still showing up. That in itself is very impressive.
12.) Set up the other little factors in your life to help yourself achieve your new healthy lifestyle goals. Don't stay up all night binge-watching Hulu if your goal is to exercise before you have to be at work at 9 a.m. Go grocery shopping and set aside an hour for meal-prep if you want to cook more and order take-out less often. You can't just expect to meet your goals because of your willpower -- you have to throw yourself a bone.
13.) Set up a system. Make yourself earn things: maybe a new dress, or a vacation, or your favorite show at the end of the day. Bribe yourself with these things: you don’t get them until you reach your goals, or at least show some real progress.
Just keep in mind, you’re aiming for baby steps here. Change leads to change. You’re not dieting, you’re not “trying” to exercise -- you’re establishing a lifestyle. Eating healthy doesn’t have to mean a vegan diet or excessive calorie restriction. Those aren’t sustainable changes for most of us. Aim to eat more leafy greens, if you’re not already. Or strive for more balanced meals with plenty of healthy carbs, vegetables and protein. Also, keep in mind that it won’t always be this tough. You won’t have to coax yourself into doing all this stuff once it becomes a routine. Might we even suggest, you’ll probably come to enjoy it. Good luck out there!