by - January 07, 2016

So, the thing is, I don't really believe in New Year's Resolutions. I know they're a big deal to some people, and I completely respect that, but I feel like every resolution that I've ever made has been broken by Valentine's Day and judging by how busy the gym is in January versus the rest of the year, I'd say that's true for a lot of people. Obviously, a huge number of New Year's Resolutions are about health. Makes sense, right? Most of us just want to feel better, stronger, healthier, and to fit into the ideal of what we want our bodies to be. I feel like most resolutions are made with the best of intentions, but they tend to be overwhelming and hard to stick with. For me, it's about making changes in your life that you can sustain in order to live an overall healthy and balanced life, not making a promise at the start of a new year that you'll break only a couple of months into it.

SO. I decided to sit down and write down my three biggest tips for making healthy choices in 2016. I'm not reinventing the wheel or saying anything that hasn't been said before, and I'm not a health or fitness professional so I'm not going to pretend like I am. These are common sense and I hope they might be inspiring to some people.

1. Take stock of  the state of your mind & body.
One of the most important things to do before you make changes is to really get a feel for what you're working with. For a lot of people, this will mean a trip to a medical professional to find out what's happening in their bodies and minds. It's important to do this so that you can make the most informed, healthy and productive decisions to get the results that you want and avoid unexpected negative side effects. I think it's also the best way to figure out what is sustainable for you. As much as I think we all want to get on the fast track to what we want, you have to be aware of what you're able to handle and go at the pace that's best for you. A doctor can help you to figure out what that is and hopefully give you some encouragement and helpful info to get you started.

2. Eat food. No, seriously.
I've been a victim to weight loss and fitness trends as much as anyone, but what that's made me recognize is that there's no miracle to it. I have literally zero interest in food fads and I often outright scorn a lot of them. What you do and what you choose is your business, but as far as I can tell the best evidence that we have tells us that the healthiest diet is one that is balanced so that your body gets everything that it needs to run smoothly and comprised most significantly of whole foods and plants.

When it comes to food, I think the most important things you can do are to make healthy food decisions as best you can and try to have a balanced and healthy relationship with food. Try to enjoy your food, from the experience of preparing it to the act of eating it. Don't think of food as your enemy or something you need to have the strictest of control over, because that way of thinking isn't going to lead you to your best results. Ultimately, I think that it's when we try too hard to control our food that we end up losing control. Learn about food and proper nutrition, it's well worth it. Let yourself indulge in comfort foods from time to time without feeling guilty about it, but still recognize that indulges shouldn't be too often. Cook. No, seriously. Cooking is a great way to not only make healthy decisions, but also a way to really feel a healthy connection to the food that you're eating. Making good choices when it comes to food has immense personal benefits far beyond the superficial (though it has those too!)

3. Prioritize Exercise.
When it comes to exercise... Do it. You don't have to spend two hours in the gym every day or start running marathons. All you have to do is find some physical activity that gets you up and active and that you'll enjoy doing and then do it consistently. No matter what shape you're in or how able you are, there are things that you can do that will be fun and help to improve your overall health and fitness. Also, don't be afraid to try new forms of exercise. There are so many options out there that you can try out to find something that fits your current fitness level, your interests, and your budget. Alternately, if you're able, just start taking some good walks several times a week and you'll feel a real difference in a short amount of time. Really, there's no excuses, no matter how much we all make them. You can start slow and move at your own pace, just as long as you're moving. Just keep moving, keep getting out there and staying active, and you'll absolutely feel the difference.
Like I said, you don't have to buy into fitness or diet crazes or fads, you don't have to change every single thing about your lifestyleon a dime, you don't have to turn food into an enemy or kill yourself at the gym. All you have to do is figure out where you're at and where you want to be with your health and make the best choices that you can to get yourself there at a pace that you can maintain. The easiest promises we break to ourselves are the ones that always seemed almost impossible, so make a plan that you can stick to and then reevaluate once you've settled into that routine. Also, remember that oftentimes it's the instant results that don't endure, and the ones you work for that will be truly lasting. 

Thanks for reading!

DISCLAIMER: I tried not to be ableist or fall too hard onto the sword of my own privilege in this post. I recognize that making real life changes can be extremely difficult, especially for those struggling with mental and physical illness. I want this to be a positive post and I hope that people will be inspired by it. Just know that I am a woman in her 30s who has struggled her whole life with being overweight as well as anxiety and depression, so I'm aware of the struggles and obstacles that those things can put in front of you and I try to be aware of the obstacles that other people face that I simply can't understand. If you are struggling with mental or physical illness, or disabilities, I hope that you can still find something of value here and I hope that 2016 allows you to move forward and make strides against the things that you're struggling with. And if the struggle gets too overwhelming, I hope that you'll ask someone for help. We don't have to do any of this alone, even if it feels like we do.

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