The holidays are over. We’ve all over-indulged and now we’re ready to get back on the right track. Unfortunately, the motivation is fleeting. The gyms will be packed with “best intentions” for the next few weeks, only to see the lines for the stationary bikes and treadmills dwindle by the end of the month. In fact, 75 percent of gym memberships that are purchased in the month of January only last the first week! Bankrate.com listed “unused memberships” among their Top 10 Money Drains of 2013.
We recently talked about how to keep the motivation to exercise, so we won’t dive into goal setting and staying enthusiastic—but instead offer a variety of healthy resolutions that will not only improve your fitness, but your mental well-being as well.
- Technology breaks: Smartphones, social networks, and even email can keep your, and your family’s, brain in a constant state of distraction or waiting for an interruption. Jumping from screen to screen and app to app keeps your brain operating on a superficial level, making it harder to stay focused and think creatively about problem solving. Looking for a digital detox for your family? Take a look at our smartphone addiction blog post.
- Mental breaks: Stop working, stop talking, and stop watching—and don’t you dare pick up that smartphone. According to a study published at Scientific American, your brain does its most complex processing when you step away and reflect on ideas and crucial decisions, rather than acting impulsively. As hard as it may sound, when you’re feeling overwhelmed and stressed do nothing for five minutes to allow your brain to reboot and run more efficiently.
- Start small: If you’re just jumping into a workout routine again after a break, maybe since last January, be sure to start with attainable, measurable goals. Failure to meet lofty goals causes many to throw up their hands with “Well, I tried and failed. Might as well go back to my old ways.”
- Find an activity you enjoy: People that hate to jog, rarely jog. Crazy, huh? Find an activity that you enjoy and make it a regular daily habit. A brisk walk every day is habit forming and will definitely add to your mental well-being. Bottom line, you are more likely to stay with an exercise plan if you enjoy doing it.
- Reduce sugar consumption: Reduce your sugar consumption by eliminating unnecessary foods like soft drinks and sweetened fruit drinks—and by eliminating, we mean don’t have them in your house. For a healthy alternative, keep a jug of cold water in the fridge—and maybe add some lime wedges for a change. Start to make a habit of reaching for this thirst-quenching substitute every time you open the fridge.
- Make an effort to avoid processed food: Processed foods, pretty much everything that comes in a box or a can, are loaded with sodium, fat and preservatives—not to mention the ingredients we can’t come close to pronouncing. If your family is hooked on processed food, start small. Try to switch to fresh foods for a meal, then a day—you’ll be surprised not only at the taste but also at the increased energy.
- Read labels: Learning how to read the labels can help you make healthier choices. Here are some tips from the American Heart Association.
- Cook more at home: This can not only help reduce your family’s consumption of fast food but you’ll be surprised at the amount of money that can be saved as well.
- Make some simple swaps: Little changes can make all the difference. If your family drinks 2% milk, change to 1% or skim. Swap your bread and pasta for whole grain versions. Replace iceberg lettuce with nutrient-rich spinach or mixed greens.
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