It’s that time of year when grocery store lines are longer than ever and gyms are packed. While New Year’s resolutions can be a great motivator, the unfortunate truth is that most are unsuccessful. According to U.S. News, 80 percent of resolutions fail by February. But why is it that with such good intentions, we still fail to wake up earlier, workout more, eat healthier, and finally see that number on the scale? The answer is fairly simple. The goals we set are often too ambitious – unattainable even.
Don’t get discouraged just yet, though. After all, we’re only a few days into the new year. Instead of focusing on your belly fat or dress size, consider goals that will improve your physical and mental well-being. Trust us, when you concentrate on being healthy and happy, you’ll be a lot more motivated to actually follow through. Here are eight healthy New Year’s resolutions you won’t give up on.
Find a workout you love
Hitting the gym seven days a week is an ambitious goal, but if you’re struggling to push through your daily treadmill sessions, you may want to consider a different approach. Studies show that when people unwittingly push themselves too far, too fast, the body becomes stressed and physically pained, causing them to become discouraged and stop exercising altogether. The best way to stay motivated is to find a workout you enjoy and are willing to do on regular basis. Consider options like ClassPass, which allows you access to different fitness studios in your area, or join a gym with a variety of options. You can even download fitness apps like Obé, which streams live workouts, and Trainiac, which connects you to a personal trainer and helps you come up with a workout plan based on your specific goals. Measure how you feel after each sweat session — revived and confident or bored and worn out?
Unfollow feeds that make you feel bad about yourself
From celebrity trainers to food bloggers, there are plenty of feeds that offer healthy motivation on Instagram. But then there are those that encourage unhealthy comparisons, which has been linked to a range of ugly effects. Studies show that scrolling through social media can make young adult women, specifically, feel dissatisfied with their bodies and/or appearance, and in some cases causes conditions like body dysmorphia. So, whether it’s before-and-after photos of drastic weight loss or humble bragging from your body-obsessed friend, unfollow feeds that make you feel bad about yourself. Instead, look for accounts that encourage you and make you laugh.
Schedule regular date nights — with yourself
The idea of self-care may sound indulgent to some, but experts agree that it’s crucial for our emotional, mental, and physical well-being. Whether it’s enjoying a long bubble bath, going to a yoga class or curling up on the couch for a movie marathon, carving out time for yourself can cut down on the toxic effects of stress. Research suggests that people who make more time for self-care report being happier, having more focus, and feeling more hopeful (something we could all benefit from, given the state of current affairs). It’s also a simple way to remind yourself (and others!) that your needs are just as important as those of your family members, friends, and colleagues.
Order less takeout
Not only does cooking meals at home lead to positive health benefits like reduced calorie, sodium, and sugar consumption, but there’s evidence that the act of cooking can help relieve depression, anxiety, and eating disorders. “At its core, cooking is comprehensive meditation with the assurance of a good, healthy meal as the reward.” Zipora Einav, a chef to celebrities like Mariah Carey and Pierce Brosnan and author of Recipe for a Delicious Life, told GLAM. “You are present in the task, doing something physical, and not distracted by the stresses of the day.” Grab your favorite cookbook, turn up the music, and cook with a partner or friend to enhance the experience.
Take a mental health day
It’s been a busy week. You just spearheaded a project, gave an important presentation, and finished loads of paperwork – all on little sleep and skipped meals. Now you’re exhausted, both physically and mentally. Sound familiar? To keep up with this roadrunner lifestyle, many of us feel the need to perform every second of the day. However, research shows this is highly detrimental to our health and brain function. When you’re feeling overwhelmed or severely exhausted, remember that there is no shame in taking a mental health day. You’ll come back fresher and more focused.
Make time for friends
Sure, given our busy lifestyles, this is easier said than done. But friendships play a pivotal role in promoting your overall health. According to the Mayo Clinic, “adults with strong social support have a reduced risk of many significant health problems, including depression, high blood pressure, and an unhealthy body mass index.” Spending quality time with friends can also increase your sense of belonging and improve your self-confidence. Make a conscious effort to schedule time with your pals, even if that means doing everyday tasks, like working out, grocery shopping, walking your dogs or going to the park with your kids.
Have more sex — better yet, have good sex
Why? You deserve pleasurable sex. Bottom line. Plus, the latest studies suggest there are quite a few benefits to having sex regularly (twice a week to be exact). Those include stress reduction, lower blood pressure, better heart health, balanced hormones, memory function, and improved self-esteem. Scientists even claim that sex can make you look years younger — yes, please! Resolve to explore your sexuality, masturbate more to find your pleasure points, try new things, and take charge in the bedroom.
Finally, learn to forgive yourself. You will make mistakes, you will have bad days, and you will probably break your resolutions. You’re only human. Continually beating yourself up for something does no good. In fact, it causes lower self-esteem and behaviors that reinforce feelings of shame. Acknowledge your actions, then try viewing yourself with empathy instead. Self-forgiveness means transcending your disappointment in yourself with love so that you can move on.