The new year has only just begun and it has that amazing motivating effect on so many of us. Therefore, the first couple weeks of the year is a great chance to evaluate any of your current lifestyle habits that no longer serve you and think about changes you can make to improve your quality of life. Of course, you can make positive changes at any time of the year, however, if you have a bit of breathing room right now and have space to form new habits, now is a great chance. Here are five effective ways to do just that:
Sleep is arguably the most important aspect of good health. Not only does it support healthy brain function and maintain physical health, sleep-deprived adults have been seen to have higher ghrelin levels (our hunger hormone), therefore more hunger and fewer feelings of satiety compared to adults getting adequate sleep. Aim to get 7-9 hours quality of sleep and get into bed before 10 pm as this optimises our circadian rhythm. It is also best to avoid screens late at night and caffeine in the second half of the day to give your body the best chance at a quality night of sleep.
This year try to find an exercise that you enjoy. If you love movement, you are much more likely to stick to it when life gets busy. A walkout in nature with a podcast, reformer Pilates, or joining a team sport are all different ways you can get in good quality movement while decreasing your risk of lifestyle diseases down the track. Regular exercise is important for mental and physical health and helps to build more durable, denser bones. Start small with just 10-15 minutes of movement per day and build upon this is a great way to make sustainable, long-lasting change.
Protein is an important macronutrient as it helps to regulate your appetite and keeps you feeling full for longer. Adequate protein throughout the day is critical however a lot of people are lacking in their first meal. Toast and cereal are an easy start to the day however often don’t provide an adequate amount of protein. It is important to ensure you get a good dose at the start of your feeding window as this signals to your brain that you have the fuel on board to optimise repair and rebuild of body tissue. Aiming for 20-30g of protein in the morning is important but not always easy! For example:
It is important to shift your mindset coming into the new year and think about what you want to add to your diet rather than restriction. A feeling of abundance rather than scarcity is going to make any attempts to improve your lifestyle so much more sustainable long term. Have a think about how you can add vegetables to each meal and load up your plate with a vast change of different colours. Consider what proteins, fats and carbohydrates you have included, and try to ensure you have a good balance of each macronutrient. This will aid in satiety and stabilising energy throughout that day to avoid reaching for that sugary pick me up come 3 pm.
Social media has become such a huge part of our lives and is an effective way to keep up to date with information as well as keep in touch with friends and family. With that said being mindful of who you follow and how those accounts make you feel is incredibly important. Have a scroll through your feed and unfollow or ‘mute’ any accounts that don’t make you feel good while ensuring that you follow and fill your feed with accounts that bring you joy or benefit your life in some way (even if that is just by making you laugh). This is something that is very easy to do and will ensure that your social media feed is impacting you in a positive way, which is going to have a big impact on your overall well-being.
Emily is a qualified nutritionist graduating with a BSc majoring in nutrition from the University of Auckland. She worked in nutrition research for 3 years before joining a nutrition consulting company in 2016. She worked there seeing nutrition clients one on one as well as performing seminars for corporate clients. She has since been on maternity leave, looking after her two young children.