At the onset of every new year comes the barrage of repetitive messaging from how to lose weight to the diets you need to take, but this year we're ditching the "New Year, New You" mantra for simple habits we can do every day to be healthier and happier. Because there's nothing wrong with who you are at this very moment. Of course, there is always room for a little improvement, but this year we're all about embracing who we are and reveling in that beauty. Besides, how many times have you set a resolution that you didn't keep? We're pretty sure most of you are nodding your head right now.
"The biggest mistake people make with New Year's resolutions is they make them too grandiose or too vague," says Jess Barron of LIVESTRONG.com. "For example, many people are making the resolution to 'be a better person,' but this is a large intention that is not easily tracked nor measured, nor small enough to make into a daily habit. It would be better to think about what being a better person means to you. Deciding to create a habit may work much better for the average person to achieve their desired result than simply declaring a New Year's resolution." Ready to get started? Ahead, Barron outlines five simple habits and intentions we can incorporate into our daily lives in lieu of resolutions so you can reach those goals.
Tired of the dieting messages too? Barron says it's time to ditch them and rather than focus on what you can't eat, pinpoint the healthy choices that you can. The most important ingredient? Protein. "Aim to eat 20 grams of protein at every meal," Barron says. "Why 20 grams of protein per meal? The average adult sedentary woman is advised to consume 50 to 75 grams of protein per day, and more if she's active. Consuming protein at around 25 to 30% of your daily calories has been shown to boost metabolism by up to 80 to 100 extra calories burned per day, compared to lower protein diets."
Barron says this is because eating protein boosts your metabolic rate and reduces your appetite. "It also helps you build and preserve your muscle mass, which helps you to burn more calories around the clock," she adds. "If it's too much or overwhelming to do this for all three meals, aim to simply eat a high-protein breakfast each morning." Looking for ideas of what to eat? Try Livestrong.com's top 14 protein-packed breakfasts to power you through the morning. You can find out how much protein is in your meal with the MyPlate app free on iPhone and Android.
If you're looking for a simple health update, then Barron says commit to brushing and flossing your teeth within 30 minutes of finishing your dinner at night. "Not only will this will be good for your teeth and gums, but it may also help you avoid that evening snack or glass of wine," she said. Do you floss your teeth every day? A survey of 2000 U.S. adults found that 27% of Americans lie to their dentists about flossing regularly and 36% of Americans would rather clean a toilet than floss their teeth.
According to Livestrong's article "How to Live 35 Years Longer," regular flossing can add 6.4 years to your life! If you don't floss yet or often forget, Barron has a devised a simple ritual to help your form it into a daily habit. "If you don't floss at all, start a goal of flossing every evening when you brush your teeth after dinner," Barron advised. "Put your dental floss on the counter near your toothbrush and after brushing your teeth, reach for the floss. While flossing, reward yourself by playing a favorite song on your phone. Floss to the beat, and think about how flossing is going to keep your gums healthy and your whole body healthy. Picture a radiant beam of health going throughout your body."
She also recommends hanging a calendar nearby and put an X or sticker on the calendar every time you've flossed. "Tell yourself you did a great job," she says. "Aim to get several days of X's or stickers in a row. Celebrate your success at a job well done, and keep it up. The next time you go to the dentist, it will be less painful and your dentist will likely also notice your efforts and praise you. Mine did in 2016 after I started this method."
Make It Habitual
We get it, everyone's busy, in fact, most of us are addicted to it but if you really want to keep your relationships healthy it's time you carved a little time out of that calendar. "Be purposefully present," Barron says. "Set aside a block of time, either a particular evening each week or an entire day, such as Sundays, to agree with your friend or partner that you will spend time together without looking at mobile phones. Turn off your notifications, your alerts, and sounds and both agree to be present."
Happiness is elusive. One day you're feeling on top of the world, and the next you're on a rollercoaster down to frown town. While sadness is a reality of everyday life and an important emotion to ride, it doesn't mean we can't make inner glee a daily goal. To do this, Barron recommends writing one sentence down every day on something you feel happy about, grateful for or proud of. "One sentence will take you less than a minute," she says. "You can do this in a journal, where you write down today's date and then the sentence. Or you can get post-it notes or similar small squares of paper and write the date and the sentence, and then put them each day into an empty glass jar. At the end of each week, month or year, you will have a long list of things to be happy about, and it will help you keep a record of your life." Now that's something we can actually accomplish.
Whether you're about to start a new job, heading into a new role, or are on the hunt for new employment, to make sure your career stays on track (upwardly mobile that is) Barron suggests we all make a habit of growing and sharing our knowledge each month. "Find titles of books that are relevant to the latest advancements and trends in your current or desired career," she advised. "Whether it's marketing, real estate, writing, human resources, sales, PR, or technology. Download the first book for your Kindle or get a hard copy and start reading it. Then read some of it every day, maybe in lieu of TV or video time, and make notes on specific learnings that can help you improve or develop at what you do."
But don't stop there. Each month, Barron strongly believes in the power of sharing our learnings and to make a goal each month to sprinkle that knowledge around. Some of the ways you can do that are publishing an article on Medium (a free platform where people publish their ideas and perspectives), on your own blog, or create a website about a topic you're proficient in that can help others. "For example, I've written on topics such as 'tips for writing irresistible email newsletters' or 'actionable ways to grow your site's millennial audience'. Articles like these not only help others but they also demonstrate your expertise and will grow your personal brand. Publishing and sharing your thoughts can help you to network and meet like-minded people online, which can lead to new opportunities."
Buying a gym membership at the beginning of the year isn't always a good idea. While you might have the best intentions at the outset, keeping up the momentum as the year goes on is hard, especially when our calendar fills up with work and social events. But Barron says it's time to use your e-cal to your advantage and make fitness part of your to-do list. "Use your calendaring app such as Google Calendar or Microsoft Outlook to block off time every day for fitness," she says. "It can be as little as 15 minutes where you get up from your desk and take a walk around your office, home or outdoors around the driveway or around the block. I do this, and it has been a huge game-changer for simply getting in more activity and steps per day." And the best part is, it doesn't cost you a thing. (Try out LIVESTRONG.com's free daily workout videos when you want to step up your game).
The best thing you can do is be kind to yourself and respect the body you're in. In fact, Barron says, "body positivity and thinking better about yourself" is one of the biggest resolution trends this year. "I saw a friend's Instagram quote that said, 'What if you devoted this new year to loving yourself more?' and I think that is so powerful," Barron says. "If we can remove our negative thoughts, we can become happier."
Practicing gratitude is another big resolution trend. "This can also be made into an actionable, trackable daily habit by keeping a gratitude journal or by sharing your gratitude daily on social media," Barron says. "People who regularly write down what they're thankful for and exercise often, report fewer physical complaints, experience better sleep quality and duration, and feel better about their lives as a whole." Now that's a resolution we can sign up for.
Are you ditching resolutions too? Do you agree that forming daily habits is easier to attain than far-fetched resolutions? How do you reach your goals?