Last week we went over why most people fail to keep pushing toward their New Year’s resolutions, and how you can stick with them.
After reading the piece (check it out here) you may have thought about readjusting your goals to be more sustainable. So … what now? What are some optimal resolutions you can set for yourself that benefit your health as a whole?
Many New Year’s resolutions revolve around weight loss, but sometimes, focusing on how quickly you can lose the lbs can create frustration if it doesn’t happen fast enough, and can also spin into dramatic dieting, followed by a relapse into old patterns.
If your New Year’s resolution involved weight loss or anything to do with health, check out the list of optimal goals to stick to that are related to this. These are measurable, realistic, and achievable, and will have widespread benefits for your health as a whole, which will give you a sense of achievement and progress almost immediately.
Take these ideas and make them specific to your goals, and you’ll be golden.
The Best Health Resolutions for 2021
- Get eight hours of sleep every night.
Good days stem from good sleep. Unfortunately, too many of us overlook how important it is for us – probably because we’re so busy workout out and planning our healthy diets on top of all the other stressors and responsibilities life throws our way. But getting enough sleep is crucial for managing your stress hormones and helping you to maintain focus throughout the day, not to mention it gives your body some much-needed recovery time so your body can repair and build those muscles.
If you need another motivator, studies also show sleep can help with weight loss and also that not getting enough can hinder weight loss).
Aim to get enough sleep every night (eight hours is generally acceptable) and head to bed early enough to make it happen.
- Eat less sugar.
It shouldn’t come as a big shock to you that too much sugar is terrible for your health. Indulging in the sweets too often can lead to concerns most of us are aware of, like weight gain, insulin resistance, and heart disease, to name a few! [*]
Watch for added sugars when you’re doing your shopping, and make sure to take an extra-close look at your drinks, since many of them contain more sugars than you should consume in an entire week yep!).
When it comes to baked goods and sweets, going cold turkey might be just )what your health needs, but if that’s a little too extreme for you, try limiting your intake of low-quality sugars to the very occasional treat instead of a regular staple. Also consider lower-sugar options like a square of dark chocolate, or gluten-free almond flour cookies.
- Lift heavier weights.
If your workout routine has been feeling stagnant lately, maybe it’s time to increase the intensity. And what better way to do that than by lifting heavier weights?
If you feel like you’ve been stuck on the same weight for your kettlebell swing for the entirety of 2020, up the ante and work up to the next level. Make some incremental goals here – for example, aim to be working consistently with ten more pounds by the end of January, and twenty more in two months’ time.
- Drink less alcohol.
A lot of people can boast that they lead a pretty healthy lifestyle … except for the drinking.
You can be working out and eating right, but if you’re overdoing it on the alcohol, you could be hindering your progress by disrupting your sleep and dehydrating your body. Even worse, you could be limiting your production of testosterone, which is important for maintaining your physique!
Not to mention, alcohol contains a ton of sugar, which spells disaster for fat loss.
If you feel like you could benefit from decreasing your alcohol use, set realistic limits. For example, save your drinking for one night a week, or cut your regular intake from three drinks to one.
- Work on your functional fitness.
If you feel like you’re a beast when you’re lifting weights in the gym but throw your back out when you’re trying to lift something around your house, focus on adding some functional fitness to your routine.
Lifting weights doesn’t necessarily translate to real-life movements, which is where functional fitness comes into play. Incorporate more dynamic movements and bodyweight workouts a couple of times a week, rather than focusing solely on isolation exercises, to maximize your functional fitness and let your gym gains transfer to your real life.
- Eat vegetables with every meal.
We put a lot of emphasis on our lean protein, but you might find yourself stuck in a vegetable rut from time to time.
If you’ve been slacking on your veggies, make them a priority in your grocery list each week, and try incorporating different kinds to experiment. For example, reach for the zucchini, or rutabagas, radishes, or whatever interesting veggie you don’t use very often to add some dimension and interest to your meal plan.
- Work on your cardio.
No more putting off the cardio! Lifting weights is fun and builds those muscles, but working up a sweat and getting your heart racing is going to help build endurance and keep your heart strong for the rest of your life.
Try switching out one day per week of your normal resistance training with some cardio. You can go for a jog, add some HIIT, or hop onto a cardio machine like a treadmill or a bike to get your heart racing and improve every aspect of your physical fitness.
- Improve your body fat percentage.
We’re always making it a big deal to lose ten pounds every year, but what about your body composition? You can look fit and even be at a healthy BMI but still have a high body fat percentage, which could lead to the same health risks that being obviously overweight can bring. For example, one study found that adults who were at healthy body weight but had a high percentage of body fat were performing worse at cognitive exercises than overweight participants. [*]
Instead of being hyper-focused on the scale this year, try making your physical fitness goals circle around losing fat and improving your body composition instead.
- Stop spending so much time staring at a screen.
2020 has probably found you staring at the screens more than ever before; whether you’re ending up in front of the TV more, working in front of your computer screen all day, or endlessly doom-scrolling on your phone. Unfortunately, all that screen time isn’t great for your health, since there’s evidence that links too much screen time to an increased risk of obesity. [*]
Make it a point to ditch the blue light more often! Go outside and get some fresh air instead of keeping your eyes glued to the screen on the treadmill, pick up a book rather than endlessly refreshing your social media feeds, or maybe take up another hobby that’ll keep your hands and your brain busy.
We’re coming out of a crazy year, so let’s make 2021 the year that you gain control of your health and longevity!
Top Health Resolutions for 2021: Overview
• Get eight hours of sleep every night
• Eat less sugar
• Lift heavier weights
• Drink less alcohol
• Improve functional fitness
• Eat vegetables with every meal
• Work on cardio
• Improve body fat percentage
• Spend less time looking at screens