RATHER THAN HOPPING on the express train to Quitsville, why not make this your year of real changes and transformations?
Some New Year’s resolutions are too lofty and easy to break. To be successful and stick to your resolutions, you need to choose realistic goals that coincide with your everyday life—habits that can gradually and efficiently snowball into triumph.
Jordan Mazur, R.D., the coordinator of nutrition and team sports dietitian for the San Francisco 49ers, and Laurel Mellin, Ph.D., health psychologist and founder of Emotional Brain Training, have spotlighted resolutions that pave the way for success. Here’s what you should start implementing.
1. Try the ‘social media diet’
This isn’t what you think it is. In fact, diving into a fad diet is one of the worst health and fitness resolutions you can make. A good way to set the stage for a healthy year is to “clear your social media feed of stories and people who don’t line up with your new desired way of thinking,” Mazur says. Nix those junk food accounts on Instagram (y’know, the ones with slow-mo videos of dramatic cheese pulls); save restaurants that offer clean, healthy foods (not crumb cake pancakes); and start to follow influencers, moguls, and brands that inspire you to move. (To be fair, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson eats cheat meals too, but he’s obviously pretty judicious about them.) You can also hide ads on Instagram that aren’t relevant to you and your newfound goals. For example, if you’re being inundated with a particular spirit’s sponsored advertising, you can click on the ellipsis (…) on the right-hand corner of the post, then hit “Hide This”.
2. Tap into your emotional side
Rather than explicitly counting your macros and daily calorie burn, take some time to treat the emotional part of your brain responsible for keeping you healthy, happy, and helping you overcome “work stalls, emotional numbness, anxiety attacks, and excessive tendencies like overeating, binge drinking, and overtraining,” Mellin says. Use emotional brain training techniques (learn all about it at ebtconnect.net). They’ll help you “stop replaying the past and start moving forward,” Mellin explains. “The goal of EBT is not to have a perfect behavioral record, but to rewire these ‘brain glitches’ that keep us stalled to raise our emotional set point.”
3. Eat more quality carbs
Stop damning carbs. Yes, “excess carb intake can lead to weight gain because we store excess carbs as body fat,” Mazur says. But skinny guys looking to gain muscle and your average Joe trying to maintain a healthy weight both need complex carbs to fuel their gym efforts and keep their bodies functioning properly. “Minimally processed carbs in the form of whole grains and fruit have a lot of health benefits,” Mazur says. Your brain runs almost entirely on carbs, after all. Just be strategic about your intake. “Eat the majority of your carbs in the morning and at lunch when you’re going to be most active and using your brain, then taper those carbs throughout the day if you’re going to be less active, so you don’t store those calories and convert it to body fat.”
4. Sleep more
Sleeping more isn’t a novel idea, but do you actually get 6-8 hours every night? Probably not. “Sleep and recovery are some of the easiest New Year’s resolutions that’ll have the greatest impact on your overall health,” Mazur says. It’s when your body goes to work to restore hormones, recover muscles, and help your brain retain information. Plus, crappy sleep can dramatically lower your quality of life. Getting fewer than 6-8 hours of sleep per night increases the risk of early death by about 12%, according to a review of 16 studies found. People who skimp on sleep are more susceptible to weight gain, according to a University of Pennsylvania study. On the flip side, sleeping more can actually encourage you to make healthier food choices.
5. Lean into stress
“With expectations, deadlines, and stress through the roof, it’s common to feel tense,” Mellin says. Worse yet, the more you feel stressed about being stressed, the longer it takes to break. Or it gets worse. Instead of getting overloaded, “appreciate that stress is a moment of opportunity to transform,” she suggests. If you’re in taxing situation, it’s usually because you’re challenging yourself mentally, physically, or emotionally (and that’s never a bad thing). Don’t over-analyze the situation, because that can cause you to procrastinate or overeat. “Stay present, and lean into stress to learn how to process those negative emotions into positive ones,” Mellin adds.
By Brittany Smith