There is so much focus on healthy resolutions in the New Year. It’s hard to sift through the guidance to find a path that works for you. It’s also easy to overcomplicate it. Let’s focus on five simple goals that put your health first. Along the way to reaching these goals, you’ll likely meet many others too.
Put health first on your “to do” list
When health goals are at the top of your “to do” list, they’re easier to achieve. Prioritizing your health starts with planning your workouts, grocery shopping, food prep, and other aspects of wellness. “Assuming” it will all get done when your calendar is filled with commitments and deadlines is not enough. Review your week. Put your health on your schedule along with those other obligations. View it as a promise to yourself that you don’t want to break. It’s just as important as your other responsibilities.
Moments of mindfulness, pay attention
One key to focusing on your health is slowing down and paying attention to it. Take a few breaths before mealtime to focus on how hungry you are. Notice when you’re appropriately full (before becoming over-full). Pay attention to what your body needs before you work out, where you’re sore, and where you need to stretch. This helps prevent injuries and maintain a regular exercise schedule. These moments of focus on your daily needs are essential to prioritizing your health.
Keep it simple and specific
Abstract goals are hard to meet—I like direct goals instead. For example, try “I will eat vegetables with every meal” instead of “I’ll eat better.” Or maybe “I’ll choose foods with as little saturated fat as possible” instead of “I’ll follow a heart-healthy diet.” Clear, specific goals are easier to follow and attain. They also often help you meet other goals along the way. Before long, these goals become a natural part of your lifestyle, making room for new goals to be met.
Grocery shop with your habits in mind
When you fill your grocery cart (at the store or online), you’re selecting what will become your meals and snacks. In this way, your cart becomes the “bridge” between the store and your kitchen. It’s essential to fill it with foods that support your goals. It’s also important that these foods align with your habits. For example, let’s say your goal is to eat more veggies. But you know that you’re unlikely to wash, chop, and slice them. In this case, it makes more sense to buy pre-washed/prepped produce. Build a shopping cart while being honest about your habits. You’ll eat the foods you purchase, meet your nutritional goals, and reduce waste.
Seek sound guidance
Maybe this is a plug for our Guiding Stars team (but hey, you’re here). Check our website and timely blog for nutrition news and sound science. Likewise, visit sites supported by medical centers, colleges/universities, and trusted professional organizations/associations for diet and health information. I always recommend starting with the “about us” section of a website. You get to know the goal of the site and meet the folks behind the information. This step lets you know if you can trust the website to provide unbiased health information.