Twenty sixteen is almost over, and GOOD RIDDANCE! OK, this year has been very kind to me in a lot of ways -- especially with my health and my business, so I'm thankful for that. But whoa -- it has thrown me a lot of curveballs, and also: David Bowie. Prince. Aleppo. Donald Trump...don't even get me started!! AHHHH
Stop! Let's start 2017 on a hopeful note, shall we? Especially with our nutrition. Let's let go of the sugar embargoes, the Isagenix meals, the silly body wraps, and punishing ourselves because we've had a slice of cake.
Let's make 2017 the year we all get enlightened, give ourselves some love, and start understanding what our bodies really need to achieve optimal wellness -- physically and emotionally.
Here are my top five tips for you to start 2017 off right:
Resolve to drop the extremes and be reasonable.
Eight per cent of people are successful with their New Years resolutions.
I can guess why: they're too extreme! I see it ALL THE TIME! Client say to me, 'I'm going to exercise every day!' or, 'I'm never eating cake again!'. BS, people, of course you're going to eat cake, and hello...no one exercises every day (at least not for the long term!)
It's awesome to want to make changes to your diet and lifestyle -- that's the first step to success. But please don't risk failure by piling on the expectations. Instead, let's start small.
Here are some great ideas to start with and build on for the most common issues I see with clients:
If you don't know how, learn how to cook.
I always say that cooking and swimming are two non-negotiable life skills, so please. Make it your business to learn how to:
Roast a chicken (sounds scary, but it's super easy and it will give you a few days' worth of meals)
Marinate tofu (eat more plants! I can't stress that enough!)
Steam rice (guys, follow the instructions on the package...like I did for about four years)
Use chickpeas and other beans for protein in a salad (hint: chuck them in. Eat.)
Make a tahini dressing (it goes on everything, it's so simple, and it's so so so yummy!)
Roast vegetables (toss with olive oil and salt, put into a 350F oven until tender, turning once. That is all.)
If you're trying to lose weight, don't be fooled.
Whatever your issue, no diet shake, pill, coffee, or wrap (sigh) is going to end it for you.
Remember what Glinda the Good Witch said to Dorothy?
And you do. You might need a bit of guidance and direction from a professional like myself (FYI I do FaceTime sessions for those of you who don't live in Toronto), but starting from a place of kindness towards yourself; finding reasonable solutions (i.e. not jumping on the bandwagon of every new diet fad that presents itself); and understanding that there will be setbacks and challenges can be your best approach to a healthy diet. Don't let someone selling a lame fad convince you that you're powerless, because you're not.
This is important: If you're overeating, figure out WHY you're overeating. It's rarely about food: Food is merely the symptom. Get support from your family, friends, a professional; try to identify the feelings underneath your eating habits. If you have underlying emotions tied to your food choices, then all the diet advice in the world may not correct that.
Clean out your closet first, if you know what I mean. It's tough, but afterward, you'll be free.
Lean BACK and don't strive for perfection.
There's no such thing. The all-around perfect diet is nonexistent, because everyone is different and what's 'perfect' for you might not be 'perfect' for anyone else. But what is universal is how bad people feel when they feel like failures. And striving for perfection is one great way to set yourself up for that.
Instead of making food about punishment, make it about joy and nourishing your body with health. When you dissociate guilt from food, you'll give yourself the opportunity to enjoy eating and move on without making it about 'good' and 'bad' food and 'good' and 'bad' YOU. When you let food guilt rule you, you may have more trouble losing or maintaining your weight than if you let it go.
Don't give guilt that power. Oh -- and there's no such thing as "guilt-free" food. It's food, plain and simple.
Take setbacks in stride.
Have a busy week or two and let your workouts slide? Get back into it -- you haven't lost your muscle memory.
Feel like you overdid it in the eating department over the holidays? Get yourself eating five and eight servings (serving = ½ cup or 1 cup leafy) of vegetables a day to clean that diet up. And get rid of all that holiday chocolate and crap you still have in the house.
We all fall off the eating/exercise wagon. One key to success in leading a healthy life is how long you let yourself fall for.
Get back up. Put the past in the past. Move forward.
PS: I took both pictures in my second home: Vero Beach, Florida. This one above is of the sun rising.
Follow HuffPost Canada Blogs on Facebook
Also on HuffPost:
"Work makes you happier. It provides routine, structure and self-worth. Make sure you are in a job you enjoy. If you are not, make finding one that you do a priority for this year."
"Personal control in work makes you happier; there is better life satisfaction for those earning less but in control of their working practice than those who are richer but have less control."
"Those with close relationships are happiest – try to see friends and family more in the New Year. Research shows the closer people live to their friends, the happier they are – make new friends close to where you live. Get to know your neighbours better, try joining sports groups or taking up a hobby close to your home."
"Identifying your strengths and focus on developing these, either in work or a hobby. This will encourage you to become immersed in what you do and find life more gratifying."
"Altruism is proven to help focus beyond ourselves and enable us to be more connected with the world around us. In 2015, find local charities, sports clubs or community organisations where you can donate your time - you might even start new friendships with local people."
"Set yourself a weekly target for acts of kindness for friends, family, colleagues and strangers on the street. This will further increase your connection to the outside world."
"Improving happiness levels can depend on how we focus our attention – being attentive and focusing on one positive task helps us to enjoy the moment."
"Those who are happier remember bad events in a more positive light – it is possible to focus on particular aspects of a memory to notice the positives more than negatives."
"You can retrain your mind to focus on the good things that happen rather than the bad. Stop taking your blessings for granted by keeping a gratitude diary. Every day for 6 weeks jot down 5 things that happened that day for which you are grateful."
"Regular meditation can help with positive mental health."
"Expressing your gratitude for someone’s actions is the single most effective exercise in positive psychology. Saying thank you to even small acts and gestures will help improve gratitude levels."
"The less time you spend on using technology, the more you can carry out activities that help you engage with the world around you.”
Follow Abby Langer on Twitter: www.twitter.com/langernutrition