Every January 1, millions of Americans resolve to eat better and get more active. But establishing new routines and avoiding temptation can be hard, and for many, that initial enthusiasm often wanes by February. The following tips will help you start your new year on the right foot and get you closer to achieving your goal of living a healthy, active lifestyle.
No. 1 Start eating a predominantly plant-based diet. Plants will give you more of everything you need to be really healthy and less of the stuff you don’t need. Bonus: Plants have a lower calorie density, so you can eat more of them, stay full longer, and still lose the weight. Go plant-strong today.
No. 2 Get moving! Every day, get up and get moving—go for a walk, do jumping jacks in place, do squats during TV commercials, or take the stairs instead of the elevator. Don’t let a lack of time be an excuse for being a couch potato. Even if it’s only five minutes, start a routine. Make it part of your day and who you are.
No. 3 Strive for 100 percent consistency. Every day may not be perfect, so consistently eat well and move your body. If you do have a bad day, don’t beat yourself up or use it as an excuse to fall further down the rabbit hole. Learn from your mistakes, dust yourself off, and keep on going.
No. 4 Find your inspiration. When you’re struggling, it often helps to have a reminder of why you’re making these changes. One suggestion to keep you motivated is to surround yourself with quotes from people you admire. I love this one from Winston Churchill: “Never, never, never give up.”
No. 5 Try new and interesting vegetables and different types of preparation. Over at Engine 2, one of our favorites is kale. As we like to say, “Tame the Kale!” This vegetable has attitude and needs to be tamed like a wild stallion. Here’s a trick to make that “angry lettuce” more palatable: Slice it up into small 1-inch by 2-inch pieces, and then massage hummus or avocado into the leaves with some lemon juice and a touch of salt, which “cooks” it. We call this Kale Ceviche…bring on the kale!
No. 6 Don’t let others get you down. All too often, it is easy to get caught up in what other people think. When we start a new lifestyle change, it seems like everyone has an opinion, well-meaning advice, or criticism. Keep in mind that you are living healthy for you. Don’t let other people’s negativity or opinions—however well-intentioned—throw you off your game.
No. 7 Get enough sleep! A good night’s sleep is crucial to your health. Not only does it help your body re-energize, studies have shown that a lack of sleep can lead to weight gain, forgetfulness, and even depression. Make sure your sleeping environment is pleasant and free of distractions. Turn off the TV and computer screens at least one hour before hitting the pillow—this allows your body time to wind down from the day’s stimulation and prepare for rest.
No. 8 Start off the day with a great breakfast. Yes, it really is the most important meal of the day. Choose a healthy option that you love and fills you up. I’ve eaten my Big Bowl (engine2diet.com/recipe/rips-big-bowl/) for decades. It lights my fire every morning, and I never get tired of it. Oatmeal with fruit or another whole grain hot cereal also makes a hearty start to the day.
No. 9 Prepare a new dinner dish. Most people only rotate through six or eight dinners a month, so grab a new cookbook or search for recipes online (some of our favorite sites for healthy recipes are engine2diet.com, happyherbivore.com and straightupfood.com/blog). Try something you’ve never had before and expand your repertoire.
No. 10 Commit to being healthy, and make it one of the priorities in your life. In my opinion, health is the top asset any of us have.
New Year’s resolutions don’t have to weigh you down. Take advantage of your new-found momentum and start making small changes that will add up to a healthy, active lifestyle in the long term.