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fitness Fitness on a Budget Food & Nutrition Healthy Meals Uncategorized

How To Actually Keep Your New Year Resolution

Happy new year 2021 background concept with clock, party hat, balloon, ribbon, 3D rendering illustration showing importance of keeping new year resolutions
Create a great future by achieving your new year resolutions. GETTY

We’re all looking forward to where 2021 will take us—and perhaps best of all it will take us out of 2020. If you’re like most of us, you’re full of starry-eyed hope and determination to accomplish a raft of new year resolutions. But statistically, you won’t keep them. According to a classic study, only 19% of people do. You can buck the trend, however, and keep your resolutions—following the guidelines below.

First, know you’re in good company setting new resolutions. Beginning in ancient Rome, renewed plans were part of festivals celebrating Janus (think: January)—who looked to the past and to the future—honoring home, family, friends and civil life. People worked only in the morning and had the afternoon off for parties, gift giving and offering blessings to each other for success in the new year.

For the 81% of us who have struggled to keep our resolutions, our brains are working against us. Research published in Current Biology found we are more likely to repeat pleasing activities because we get a hit of dopamine (the feel-good neurochemical) when we approach previously-positive activities. Even seeing a delicious dessert causes the release and can thwart your efforts to select the vegetables you’ve resolved to eat instead.

So how can you succeed where you’ve failed before? How can you finally achieve your new year resolutions? Here are 10 tips which can put you on a path toward a positive 2021:

#1 Make It Real

Distinguish between your overall vision and habits. Focus on your big bets but be specific about the daily habits which will accumulate toward success. Be sure your habits are specific and actionable. While your aim may be to ‘be a better person,’ a powerful habit will be to volunteer at your preferred agency for one hour per week. Perhaps you want to write a book. Great, but you’ll be more likely to achieve this desire by committing to writing for a half hour a day, five days a week. Be specific about the actions you’ll take, not just the end you want to achieve.

#2 Be Reasonable

You’ve heard it before, but it bears repeating: ensure your aims are attainable. If your goal is to play at Carnegie Hall and you’re only just learning the violin fingering for “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”, you’re reaching too high. Set ambitious targets that are attainable and keep in mind you can build over time. This year, you may learn the rudimentary grammar for a second language and seek to spend an hour a week with a native speaker. Perhaps in subsequent years, you can seek to be truly fluent.

#3 Tie Your Actions To Your Identity

Fascinating research has identified people have more success shifting their behaviors when they link them with their identity, rather than using willpower. Perhaps you’d like to take a Saturday afternoon nap rather than the long walk you promised yourself. If you simply apply willpower, you may be more likely to take the nap instead of the walk. But if you tell yourself something like, “I am not a person who shirks my responsibility to fitness,” or, “I am a person who keeps my commitments to myself,” or “I am a person who values action over slacking,” you will be more likely to make strides toward your new, preferred behaviors.

#4 Link Your Habits

Another powerful way to successfully adopt a new set of habits is to link a new behavior to an existing one. For example, if your big goal is to expand your knowledge and you’ve decided you want to listen to informative books more often, link your listening to another habit that is already part of your daily repertoire. Perhaps every day while you’re brushing your teeth and getting ready, you can listen to your Audible book selection.

#5 Establish Accountability

Write down your targets, this will help you be accountable to yourself. In addition, share your goals with others and ask them to check in with you and give you feedback. If your goal is to avoid procrastinating on your projects at work, ask your colleague to give you a friendly nudge when they hear you putting things off. Or if you want to do daily push-ups, ask your roommate to give you a gentle reminder if evening is approaching and you haven’t dropped for 10.  

#6 Share The Process (Or The Pain)

One of the best ways to keep your resolutions is to make them mutual. Partner with others who have the same aims. If your goal is to be more creative, find a buddy with whom you can craft regularly. Or if your objective is to run a marathon, find a friend with whom you can train daily. If you want to lose your Covid 15 weight gain, establish a small group of similarly-minded pals with whom you can commit and commiserate.

#7 Realize The Power Of Small Steps And Mark Progress

An important strategy in maintaining changes in behavior is to reduce your perception of effort. An interesting example, published in Sports Medicine, found people stuck with their exercise programs for longer periods of time when they drank coffee. The reason: because the caffeine gave them bursts of energy and reduced their perception of exertion. Incremental effort works this way as well. Take small steps. Also, track your progress over time. Use a calendar and mark off the days you’ve accomplished your new behavioral goals. Track yourself and make things visible to give yourself an important, tangible sense of accomplishment. Perhaps your goal is to find a new job. Plan to reach out to two new contacts or apply for one new job per day. Give yourself credit for every small step you take and reward yourself along the way.

#8 Take Breaks

As the saying goes, “Everything in moderation, even moderation.” Build in days when you can celebrate. For example, if your goal is to do intermittent fasting, plan for one day a week when you eat throughout the day. If you plan for small moments of reprieve from your new behavior, you won’t be cheating (read: you won’t have to beat yourself up). You can help ensure you give yourself time to take a breath and recharge for the next bout of following your new rules.

#9 Manage your Mindset

Changing behaviors isn’t easy. Your current ways of doing things have carved pathways in your brain, and establishing new linkages can be uncomfortable. Get comfortable with discomfort and reassure yourself you can do it. You have some exciting aspirations and if they were easy, they probably wouldn’t be worth doing. Those who achieve their resolutions are distinguished from those who don’t by the ability to put aside short-term satisfaction for long-term gain. Consider how you’ll feel immediately compared with the trade-off over time. The chocolate cake may be delicious in the moment, but the tightness of your pants (because we’ll have to wear button pants again someday) is an unfortunate trade off. Remind yourself you’d rather have the lasting goodness of health and fitness, than the quick hit of chocolate bliss.

#10 Remember Your Why

Perhaps most important for your ongoing motivation is to remember your overall purpose. You want to acquire a new skill, so you can make an awesome contribution at work and have terrific credibility in your field. You want to learn a language, so you can make a greater contribution in your community. Or you want to get healthy, so you can provide support for your family over the long term. The big picture is always motivational, so don’t just focus on laying bricks, keep in mind the cathedral you’re building.

The pandemic has been terrible and horrible, but it has provided the opportunity to learn, grow and become more resilient. Use the difficulty of 2020 as a jumping-off point for 2021 and all you’ll accomplish as you go forward. You can achieve your new year resolutions. You can succeed. You can make 2021 a year of progress and positivity.

Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/tracybrower/2021/12/27/how-to-actually-keep-your-new-year-resolutions/?sh=67a05d3e32f6

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fitness Fitness on a Budget Food & Nutrition Healthy Meals Uncategorized

Your 7-Day Guide to Forming Better Habits For Weight Loss

Source: MyFitnessPal

Small changes add up to big results over time, especially if you’re looking to lose weight with tweaks to your nutrition and fitness habits. Moreover, making simple changes gradually helps ensure it’s an overall lifestyle change and something that’s sustainable long term — preventing the likelihood you’ll gain the weight right back.

“People should plan to establish habits that they can follow indefinitely,” says Tami Smith, a certified personal trainer based in Williamstown, Massachusetts. “They should ask themselves this question: ‘Is this something that I can see myself adhering to forever?’ If the answer is no, then it’s not a great plan.”

The healthy habits outlined below are ideal for starting small, although if it’s still intimidating, don’t worry, you can always go at your own pace and implement two a week or even two a month. Find what works best for your lifestyle and build from there.

While it’s a great plan to form better weight-loss in the new year, you can always start (or return to it) anytime.

Your 7-Day Guide to Forming Better Habits For Weight Loss
Your 7-Day Guide to Forming Better Habits For Weight Loss

Replace some of your caloric beverages with water. Keep a water bottle nearby to encourage you to drink regularly throughout the day. “Increasing one’s water intake is definitely an important tool in any weight-loss program since it can help fill you up,” says Keri Gans, RDN, a nutrition consultant based in New York City and author of “The Small Change Diet.” “If someone does not like the taste of water, I suggest flavoring it with fruit slices or herbs or pouring a glass of sparkling water.”

Your 7-Day Guide to Forming Better Habits For Weight Loss

Adding short spurts of exercise to your schedule increases your step count and also helps counteract the negative effects of sitting. “Three 10-minute walks per day can eventually be condensed to two 15-minute walks per day, then one 30-minute walk,” says Smith. After that, you might want to continue to increase your distance, notes Smith.

Your 7-Day Guide to Forming Better Habits For Weight Loss

Instead of eliminating certain items from your diet, gradually add more fruits and vegetables, which provide several important vitamins and minerals and nutrients like fiber that keep you full. Over time, you may find yourself gravitating toward produce, instead of processed foods, which saves calories and helps you shed pounds. “Choose to have one fruit per day, perhaps as a dessert with lunch, and then build to 2–4 servings per day,” says Gans. The same goes with vegetables; gradually build them into your diet, starting with breakfast. The more successful you are, the more likely you are to keep including more.”

Bodyweight exercises are awesome for improving strength and building lean muscle, which can help burn more calories.“I recommend starting with bodyweight exercises before attempting to add weights to the mix,” says Smith. Pick a bodyweight exercise (or two) to master such as lunges, burpees or pushups. Perform 4 sets of 12–15.

Your 7-Day Guide to Forming Better Habits For Weight Loss

If mindless snacking is your downfall, consider what you’re eating and your portion sizes. “View snacks as mini-meals,” suggests Gans. “Focus on enjoying something that is less than 200 calories, contains under 6 grams of added sugar, more than 5 grams of protein, and at least 3 grams of fiber.”

You’ll be more likely to follow through long term if you stick with a pace that feels achievable.

“Start at a low intensity and build as your fitness levels improve,” says Sergio Pedemonte, a certified personal trainer based in Toronto. Go for a walk, do some gentle yoga or cycle at an easy effort, for example.

Writing down what you eat and drink can help you realize every morsel you’re consuming, including food you steal from other people’s plates or bites you sample while cooking. “Many people who are starting a weight-loss program benefit from food journaling,” says Gans. “It enables them to see exactly what they are eating and when, as well as mistakes they may be making.” Use an app like MyFitnessPal to help you notice trends and make healthy swaps.

Your 7-Day Guide to Forming Better Habits For Weight Loss

“I recommend beginners start with 2–3 full-body workouts a week for one month before moving into split training — i.e., upper-body and lower-body workouts,” says Pedemonte. This can help you get the most bang for your buck at the start, and it doesn’t have to be super long, either. Try this 10-minute, no-equipment, total-body workout.

Think about the healthy changes you want to make to your diet — high-protein make-ahead breakfasts, more fruits and vegetables, fewer soft drinks — and map out the items you’ll need the next time you get groceries. “Planning meals ahead of time and shopping accordingly is one of the best ways to set yourself up for success,” says Gans. It’ll save you time, money and calories.

You might feel like pushing yourself, but avoiding too much too soon may keep you from becoming sidelined unnecessarily. “Starting slow minimizes the risk of getting injured the first week,” says Pedemonte. One way to make sure you’re not overexerting yourself is to calculate your heart rate zone (or use a monitor like Wahoo Fitness TICKR to do it for you) and aim to stay in zones 1–3 this week and progress until you can spend more time in zones 4 and 5.

Your 7-Day Guide to Forming Better Habits For Weight Loss

Remember, consistency beats perfection for losing weight. If you’re eating healthily 80% of the time, you’re on target. If you slip up, don’t feel like all is lost — just be prepared to follow healthy habits again at the next meal. “Healthy eating does not mean choosing healthy foods 100% of the time,” underscores Gans. “One of the best things you can do to set yourself up for success is already be mentally prepared for some failure.”

Fitness challenges, like this 31-day squat, lunge and pushup plan can help you commit to moving your body daily. Building and maintaining a streak can be motivating and keep things exciting. “It’s a great way to connect with others, particularly during these times,” notes Smith, so be sure to get your loved ones involved.

Your 7-Day Guide to Forming Better Habits For Weight Loss

Sleep is often overlooked, but it greatly impacts nutrition, fitness and weight loss. Aiming for quality sleep (at least 7–8 hours per night), can help curb cravings, allow your body to recover after a tough workout and keep hormones in check to support weight loss. “Setting a bedtime allows you to make better decisions about what you eat and when you eat it,” says Pedemonte. “[And] while the body is sleeping, it goes through a recovery process that allows the body to burn fat, repair tissues and build muscle.” Check-in with how much sleep you’re getting, and if it’s not enough, set your bedtime 15 minutes earlier each night until you hit your goal.

Source: My Fitness Pal

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Healthy Meals

9 Foods to Help Combat Stress and Anxiety

9 Foods to Help Combat Stress and Anxiety

Though we can mentally differentiate between the stress of caring for a sick family member and being stuck in traffic, our bodies can’t easily distinguish between the two and reacts to each with the same fight-or-flight response. Hormones like cortisol and adrenaline are released to boost alertness and trigger an increase in heart rate, pulse and muscle tension. This physical response is helpful during certain situations (like escaping a burning building), but it can negatively affect our mood and waistline if it becomes chronic.

However, in addition to relieving stress with things like meditationyoga and other types of exercise, what you eat matters, too.

HOW FOODS PLAY A ROLE

Stress depletes the body’s stores of B vitamins, so eating foods high in B vitamins can help replenish those stores. Certain B vitamins, like B6 and folate, have an effect on brain glucose regulation, and are necessary for the synthesis of neurotransmitters such as dopamine, serotonin, GABA and melatonin, which reduces symptoms of depression and helps improve our psychological response to stress.

Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, like DHA and EPA, can aid in the regulation of brain neurotransmitters, which may help reduce anxiety and impact how we react to stressful situations.

What’s more, stress can lead to overeating and craving unhealthy processed foods, which is why it’s even more important to eat nourishing foods when you’re feeling overwhelmed.

Try adding these foods to your plate to reduce the impact of cortisol and stress in the body:

Fish like salmon and mackerel are high in DHA and EPA, which helps to promote healthy brain function and can reduce inflammation. Fatty fish also boasts high concentrations of B vitamins, vitamin D and the antioxidant selenium, which fights oxidative stress.

Pumpkin seeds are high in magnesium, B vitamins and zinc, all of which play into brain health. Magnesium is involved in more than 600 reactions in the body, including mood and brain function. Deficiencies of magnesium have been linked with depression, which tends to reduce levels of serotonin in the brain and increase the cortisol stress response.

Chia seeds are a top plant-based source of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an omega-3 fatty acid. They can also help keep blood sugar levels stable and are high in magnesium, selenium and many beneficial plant compounds that have been linked to reduced inflammation in the brain and body.

Avocados are a good source of monounsaturated fats, as well as brain-boosting minerals like folate and magnesium. Additionally, avocados contain vitamins C and E, antioxidants that help counteract oxidative stress and reduce inflammation in the body. The healthy fats in avocado can also help increase satiety after meals, preventing overeating.

The recommendation to add more greens to your diet can benefit your brain health, too. Greens like spinach, kale, mustard and collard greens, are high in vitamin C, magnesium and plant compounds which help protect your cells from damage.

Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, has a plethora of promising research about its health benefits. While curcumin is linked to lowered anxiety and reduced inflammation, a 2015 review found curcumin also helps increase DHA synthesis in the brain and liver, which can have anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) and calming effects.

Green tea, and specifically, matcha, contains several antioxidants as well as the amino acid, theanine. Theanine has been linked to calmness and relaxation, and may increase the production of the feel-good hormones serotonin and dopamine.

Whole grains, like oats, are high in magnesium, selenium and B vitamins. Additionally, oats are complex carbohydrates, which means they’re digested more slowly, preventing quick spikes of blood sugar that can impact moods and stress.

In addition to vitamin B6 and vitamin D content, Greek yogurt is a great source of probiotics, which feed the good gut bacteria. Research shows gut bacteria impacts mood levels: One study in the journal Nutrition found participants who consumed a mixture of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria strains (the main strains in yogurt) for eight straight weeks experienced less depressive symptoms, reduced inflammation and reduced serum insulin levels compared to the control group.

Source: By SARAH SCHLICHTER