The winters months tend to see us all pack on some extra padding, and just because you’re a bear, a cub, or an otter, it doesn’t mean you need to keep hibernating until the spring. And while many of us will resolve to get to the gym or eat better in 2018, here are a few real and realistic resolutions that can help you shed that winter coat once and for all.

1. Be specific in your goals/resolutions

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We all put “I will work out more” on our list of things to do in 2018, but without a clear, realistic and measurable goal, there’s way too much wiggle room that will let you cheat. This could be anything from “I will work out 4 times a week for at least 30 minutes” to “I will walk to work twice a week”.

Whatever your goals, make them realistic and not ones that you repeatedly make and fail to keep.

2. Make relaxation a goal

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So you are buzzing with new year motivation, wanting to pick up heavy things and run really far and fast. While that’s great, it’s vitally important to prioritise relaxation and, more importantly, plenty of good quality sleep.

According to research published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, people who slept an average of 3 to 5.5 hours a night ate an extra 385 calories the next day compared to people who got 7 to 12 hours of sleep. Not to mention, they typically chose foods high in empty calories, like chips and fast food.

Try setting an alarm to remind you it’s time to start getting ready for bed, in order to ensure you get a full 8 hours. For the less tech dependent of you, also try switching off those screens an hour before bedtime.

3. Add food to your diet, rather than taking it away

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No more sweets, no more crisps, no more chocolate. The second you swear off something, the more you’ll start to crave it. Instead, try committing to eating a piece of fruit and vegetables in every single meal.

This means you can up your nutrient intake without restricting yourself from the foods you love. The more you eat, the more full you’ll feel which could inadvertently reduce your need to snack.

Plus, fruit and veg are a great source of fibre that not only keeps you feeling fuller for longer, it also helps keep you nice and regular. So… that’s better for those of you who… prefer to catch rather than pitch, if you know what I mean.

4. Don’t drink so much sugar

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It’s easy to demonise sugar as the thing that makes us all fat and is killing us, but it occurs naturally in a lot of foods that are good for you. So rather than worrying about eating so much sugar, work to reduce drinking so much.

According to the American Heart Association, men shouldn’t have more than 36 grams of added sugar per day – but you can easily get a chunk of that limit (or even surpass it) with a single can of Coke.

Soft drinks and energy drinks drive your glucose level through the roof, without actually satiating your hunger. If you can get out of the habit of drinking soft drinks then you’re off to a great start.

5. Plan your meals

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I am notoriously bad at meal prep. I just cannot seem to do it. The thought of cooking for hours on a Sunday night makes me want to cry and then throw a temper tantrum. The simple act of planning your meals for the week will make looking for inspiration when you get home after work much easier.

It will also help you remember to pick up anything from the shops on the way home.

Planning and then cooking your meals at home means you have 100% control over what you’re eating, and can help you eat a larger variety of foods whilst at the same time limiting your calorie intake.

Hell, even if you grab a rotisserie chicken and some frozen veg, it’s still a hell of a lot healthier (and cheaper) than eating out each night. Plus, you’ll have leftovers for lunch the next day.

Sorted.

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