How to Keep New Year Resolutions

Fitness and good food are important for your mental health. Research suggests that exercise helps lower anxiety and improve mood. And we know foods impact the way we feel.

New Year resolutions are an opportunity to set fitness, nutrition, and mental health goals for 2024. But the reality is many of us fall short of our goals by Jan. 3.  As a trainer, I want to share simple tips that will help you stick to your resolutions for better mental health, diet, and fitness.

Let me tell you about my experience. I believe we can do anything once we decide. I lost 35 lbs. and completely transformed my body after becoming a mom. I understand the work and dedication it takes to reach fitness and mental health goals, or any goal for that matter. Not to mention the dedication it takes to maintain a result while dealing with the highs and lows of life. Over the past five years, my gym has supported thousands of people in getting healthy and fitness results by following the 80/20/100 formula: 80 percent clean dieting, 20 percent exercise, and 100 percent consistency and commitment.

What can help you keep your health and fitness resolutions for 2024?

One very important step is to realize we all have the time to work out and cook healthily. The key is to properly plan to work for your goal of feeling better. One must be truly intentional with their time to be successful in any area of life.

You can improve your time management with simple tools. For example, writing out your day in time blocks. If you do it every day, you will manage your time better. Planning out your day and blocking out time for your workouts is needed to see the benefits of exercise on your mental health. Hold your workouts in the same regard you hold your work: as a non-negotiable.

Many people don’t stick to their fitness and mental health resolutions because of finances. People say, “I can’t afford a personal trainer, gym membership, or healthy foods.”

There are so many ways to save on food and fitness. You can find many fitness routines online for free. Fresh foods can be purchased at a low cost from farm markets, discount supermarkets, or buying in as well as other resources such as food banks, churches, and local non-profits.

People also drop New Year resolutions because of their mindset. Yes, your mindset to eat well and to exercise can be your biggest asset or your worst liability. The mind is so powerful, which is why deciding is key to achieving any life goal you set for yourself.

How you do one thing is how you do everything. Whatever area of your life you are successful in comes with work and dedication. That same mentality is required when it comes to your health and fitness. People feel exhausted from exercising.

Are you ready to hear the secret sauce? The opposite effect happens when you work out and eat a nutrient-rich diet. Your energy grows, and you start feeling better.

Exercising and eating healthy are good for our body and mind. I suggest that, in 2024, you start small.  Do thirty minutes of physical activity to increase your heart rate three times each week. The explosion of results doesn’t come overnight. This New Year, don’t do your best; do whatever it takes to stay healthy and happy.

About the Author: Mary Nesbitt is a mom of an 18-month-old baby girl (Love you, Lamiery) and a Christian entrepreneur, gym owner (@Affirm_fitness), vice president of a nonprofit organization (Youth Athletes by Affirm Fitness), health coach, orator, member of Delta Sigma Theta sorority, and community organizer.

Original article: https://healthymindsphilly.org/blog/how-to-keep-your-new-year-resolutions-for-better-fitness-healthy-eating-and-mental-health-in-2024/

You’ve Got This: Five Tips for Setting Achievable Resolutions

It’s a good idea to set goals at the beginning of the year. In fact, research shows that people are more motivated to make changes at the start of a year, a month or a week. Beginnings encourage us to muster our focus and resolve.

But research also shows that we’re unlikely to persevere unless we anticipate and plan for obstacles ahead of time, says Benjamin Converse of the University of Virginia. If the goal is to lose weight, for example, we might need to carve out the time and money to plan meals and grocery shop for healthy ingredients in order to maintain a home cooking routine.

How can we keep our good intentions alive, without quitting our goals and feeling worse about ourselves than before we started? Success is not necessarily a reflection on who you are as a person, says Ayelet Fishbach, professor at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business. Success can depend on being at the right place and time with the right people.

To help you along, we offer some advice from Independence Blue Cross Medical Directors Reetika Kumar, MD, FACP and Ryan Connolly, MD, MS; as well as academics who have researched the science of motivation.

1. Set positive and realistic goals.

It’s actually very hard to just stop doing something, particularly when it has become a habit,” says Dr. Connolly. A key approach is to commit to a positive habit that’s incompatible with the one you’re trying to get rid of. So, instead of deciding to “stop lazing in bed every morning,” it is much better to decide to exercise every morning at 7am. “It’s very hard to lie in bed while exercising!” he adds.

In addition, it’s important to set realistic goals, says Dr. Kumar. “Don’t set yourself up for failure. Losing the 20 pounds you’ve gained in the past year can’t be done in a month, but maybe a 1-2 pound a week goal will keep you going.”

2. Monitor your progress and see where you are at the midpoint.

If you need to adjust your goals, have the flexibility to do so. To-do lists can be helpful when one item motivates you to do the next one but keep sight of your priorities. University of Virginia professor Leidy Klotz has found that it’s often more important to remove items from your list than to add new ones.

3. Don’t work at cross purposes.

Make sure your rewards don’t sabotage your goals, Dr. Kumar says. “If you’re trying to lose weight, have your reward be a new pair of jeans rather than an all-you-can -eat buffet at your favorite restaurant.”

4. Seek social support.

Surround yourself with people who can help you succeed. Find a buddy who shares your goals and can keep you motivated, Dr. Kumar says. An accountability partner can help you stick to your goals.

5. Pair the hard work with something you like to do.

Based on the work of behavioral scientists Katy Milkman, Julia Minson, and Kevin Volpp, the technique of bundling temptations recognizes that we struggle to do what’s distasteful in the moment, but we can reach our goals by relying on short-term gratification rather than willpower.

If you find it hard to exercise, for example, pair it with listening to your favorite music or podcast. Need to stop putting off studying? Reward yourself with a favorite TV show if you finish by 9:00 pm. Don’t feel like raking leaves? Challenge a family member to a competition and the winner gets to pick the evening movie.

The goal is to “take the fun that might typically distract us from our goals and use it to transform an obstacle into an enticement,” Milkman says.

For more information about mental health, self-care strategies, and where to find help, visit ibx.com/knowyourmind.

Take a Minute to Breathe

Ariana Grande’s popular song “breathin’” is an anthem to anxiety that speaks to a simple solution with a multitude of benefits. “Don’t know what else to try, but you tell me every time, just keep breathin’ and breathin’” chants the pop superstar.

Unfortunately, most of us weren’t taught the simple techniques and range of positive outcomes that come with—well—simply breathing.

It happens to all of us. Feelings like anxiety, stress, and fear cause our breathing to be shallow, irregular, or rapid. It’s entirely normal. Our body’s automatic response is to protect itself. The trick is to focus not on what’s happening around us, but to what is happening within us. We are breathing. It’s our most basic instinct.

Practicing steady, deep breathing delivers more oxygen to the body and brain, reduces your heart rate and decreases the release of cortisol—better known as the stress hormone. Deep breathing also releases endorphins. This in turn increases a sense of calm and can combat pain.

Other known benefits of deep breathing include:

  • Lower blood pressure –Relaxation opens the blood vessels and improves circulation
  • More energy—From increased oxygen to the circulatory system
  • Less headache pain – Due to reduced tension locked in the shoulders and neck (you’ll rest better, too!)

Practice Makes Perfect

Getting back to steadier breaths is within reach. All it takes is a few minutes of practice. The American Psychiatry Association (APA) created one solution called “Just Breathe.” For three to four minutes a day:

  • Think about your body. (Are you breathing rapidly, forgetting to take a breath altogether, or taking shallow gasps?)
  • Begin breathing slowly and deeply for a count of four
  • Hold that breath in for a count of four
  • Slowly let the breath out for a count of six

Why does this work? Our brains can tell when we have varying emotions. Taking a few minutes to exercise a large organ in our body – our lungs – refocuses precious energy and retrains the way our body responds to our feelings.

Self-Care is Good Care

Almost everyone can relate to Grande’s refrain, “Time goes by, and I can’t control my mind.”

When this does happen to you, remember to breathe. Better yet, be proactive and take a small step in self-care by scheduling 4 minutes of ‘me time’ on your iPhone or calendar. Devote that time to breathing exercises.

Then, the next time someone asks you “How are you,” it will ring true when you reply, “I am good!”