If you are setting health and fitness goals for the new year, remember that fresh North Carolina fruits, vegetables and proteins can be part of helping you achieve those goals. Consider adding “Shop Local” to your list of resolutions to source farm-fresh foods. Dietitian Ashley Sponsky with Fueled and Fit LLC offers the following tips to consider in setting your goals.
By Ashley Sponsky, MS, RD, LDN (Fueled and Fit LLC)
With the start of every new year, people very commonly embark on new routines to become an improved, healthier version of themselves (both fitness and diet related). I am not against setting New Year’s resolutions- it provides a chance to re-evaluate and re-group what your priorities are for the upcoming year and what areas of your life need to be improved upon.
However, I do encourage you to make your resolutions SMART- specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timely. For instance, if weight loss is your goal, instead of setting your resolution as “I want to lose weight,” strive for something more specific like “I would like to lose 5 pounds per month for the next year.”
I think it is important to have a solid foundation of habit creation prior to diving into your resolutions. I really enjoy author Gretchen Rubin’s resources, journals, and books that tie in great with creating successful goals and resolutions. She offers a free “23 for 23” downloadable to help organize your thoughts and goals. I also highly recommend reading the book “Atomic Habits” by James Clear. It is a fantastic resource to help build and shape healthy habits that will stick for a lifetime.
Here are 10 lifestyle-oriented topics to consider focusing on in order to improve your health this year. Be sure to use these topics as a launching pad in creating something more individualized for yourself!
1. Start small with healthy habit creation – identify what your trouble areas are and start there. Research shows it takes at least 21 days to establish a solid habit in your lifestyle, so this takes time!
2. Set SMART daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly goals- breaking down your goals into simpler steps provides an adequate roadmap of where you are now, and where you’d like to be.
3. Focus on consistency and quality of your exercise- not the number of calories burned or the duration of the workouts. It is important to move your body daily!
4. Prioritize plants and protein on your plate- protein (from both plant and animal sources) helps keep us feeling full and stimulates muscle growth and recovery. Colorful fruits, veggies, and plant-based foods are high in fiber, antioxidants and nutrients for our immunity.
5. Stay hydrated- ideally, we are looking to consume 1/2 of our bodyweight in ounces daily. Remember, smoothies, soups, milk and juicy fruits can count towards this goal!
6. Increase frequency of strength training- 2x/week minimum of weight bearing exercise is recommended for weight management, boosting metabolism and changing body composition.
7. Receive 7-9 hours of sleep nightly- this helps reduce cravings and helps repair and grow our muscles from exercise, just to name a few benefits.
8. Decrease intake of added sugars/processed foods- ideally, we are looking to consume less than 25g of added sugars daily, and instead consume natural sugars coming from fruits, veggies, whole grains and dairy products.
9. Fuel up with healthy snack combos- consume a morning and afternoon snack that is comprised of both healthy carbohydrate and protein sources. For example: apple and peanut butter, whole grain crackers with string cheese, or consume a post workout snack like low-fat milk and banana.
10. Focus on what you can ADD in 2023 to improve your health! Instead of focusing so much on deprivation or taking away for your routine, think of what you can add. For instance, can you add a healthy snack to your morning routine? Can you add a yoga flow class every Sunday morning to decompress?