CO-AUTHORED BY LUCY HOPKINS - Communications student at McMaster University and Director of Innovation at The College Nutritionist.
"Ditch Day", January 17th is the day when most people give up, abandon, or simply forget about the New Year's resolutions they have made, but don't lose hope simply because Ditch Day has come and gone! Making specific, achievable, and realistic goals and integrating tools to help can keep us accountable for the year ahead. Here are four habits that I see work with clients time and time again.
1. Track what you're eating
People are often truly unaware of what they're truly eating, and a busy day and mindless snacking can often result in overeating. Using an app like Lose It or MyFitnessPal allows you to track meals and snacks with ease. Apps will also calculate the daily calories needed in order to lose or maintain weight based on the user's gender and current height and weight. Many of these apps also include a barcode scanner and a vast variety of options from food chains to make tracking as easy and accurate as possible.
2. Get enough sleep
Sleep is absolutely key to maintaining good health. A lack of sleep can lead to weight gain, but also some of our nation's leading diseases such as diabetes. According to Arianna Huffington's The Sleep Revolution, most of us need about 8 hours per night. Shutting off screens (phone, computer, TV) at least an hour before bed, avoiding caffeine by mid-afternoon, and trying to meditate or practice yoga even for a short period of time are some common tricks to help catch more Zs.
3. Plan ahead
Meal planning, buying groceries, and prepping ingredients can prevent overeating, ordering less healthful options, and can help one stick to a nutritious diet. I typically suggest prepping on Sunday and Tuesday nights for the next two days (give yourself a treat for Friday's lunch). Finding recipes that you like is also key - I often see clients prepping healthy foods, but not wanting to eat these meals because their taste buds are calling for something else. Allow yourself a trial-and-error period with different recipes to figure out what works best for you.
4. Manage your hunger
Being hungry is a normal part of the day. In our current food system, where food is constantly available at every turn, it's easy to consume too much. That being said, getting too hungry without having good options at hand is dangerous for our healthful eating goals! Does the office stock lots of snacks? Bring a measuring cup so that you can have a controlled amount. Try bringing your own snacks as well, but pre-portion nuts, crackers, etc., ahead of time instead of bringing the entire container to work.
Maintaining New Year's resolutions is challenging, but setting yourself up for success is the first step to achieving your goals.