This post is sponsored by Crispy Green. All opinions are my own.
Every year when the calendar flips to January, resolutions are made: “lose weight,” “eat healthier,” “go to the gym more.” But often looking back, we can see just how many times we gave up or never saw the results we wanted. The biggest problem I see people run into is trying to make too many and too big of changes all at once. Most of us revert back to old behavior when we try to take on too much too fast, even if we are trying to establish healthy habits! What I’ve come to know is that small changes can equal big results! Taking small, simple steps each day toward healthy habits is more sustainable and will help you reach those goals without giving up. So, I’ve come up with four simple changes you can make this year that are totally doable and will help you establish healthy habits for years to come. My recommendation? Focus on one or two and then once you’ve gotten into a routine, add another! Keep building on small steps until you’ve accomplished more than you ever thought possible.
1) Make Fitness Work For You with HIIT Workouts
It happens every year; the treadmill and elliptical machines at the local gym are completely full come January but as the months go by, the less busy they seem to get. That’s because no one wants to run on a treadmill for 45 minutes a day (or frankly has the time!) Talk about boring. This year, make your workouts work for you with quick, effective workouts that help you work smarter not longer and don’t make you want to cry from boredom! HIIT workouts or High Intensity Interval Training workouts helps burn fat, build muscle, and keep your metabolism revved all day long through intense bursts of exercise paired with brief moments of rest. The great thing about HIIT is that you’re combining cardio and strength training into one workout which means you’re getting double the bang for your buck. And you don’t have to do it for that long either! A 10 or 20-minute HIIT workout will get your heart rate up, burn calories and build muscle all at once. And if you ever asked if 10-minute workouts really work, just wait until you try one! If you’re a beginner, start slow, modify the moves and work your way up. Remember if you burn yourself out too early, you may just give it up altogether!
Related: 10 Minutes For 10 Days Challenge
And this may seem counterintuitive, but maybe this year you take a step back from the scale to measure how your workouts are working. Many people can get easily discouraged and give up when there’s too much emphasis on weight loss. Instead, focus on what your body is capable of through exercise and movement. Take pride in your body getting stronger, meeting a new goal, having increased energy, reducing stress, or being able to exercise longer than last month. Try using your clothes as a gauge for progress: are your jeans starting to fit just a little better? Paying attention to the other benefits of exercise can give you more motivation in the long run.
Here’s a 10-minute HIIT workout for you to try now!
2) Snack Smart!
Many people have high hopes for eating healthy but often get derailed by the 3pm hunger pangs that end up leading to a vending machine disaster. Instead of reaching for that bag of Doritos, pack some healthy snacks you can munch on at work, in the car or even at home! Simply being prepared when hunger strikes means that you can continue to fuel yourself with nourishment that your body needs rather than succumbing to whatever you can get your hands on. Here are some of my favorites:
– Homemade Trail Mix: Combine your favorite nuts such as almonds, walnuts, cashews, peanuts and pecans with some dried fruit, pumpkin and/or sunflower seeds, chocolate chips, whatever you’d like! You’ll be able to control the ingredients when you make it yourself and you’ll save money too.
– Fruit: Apples, bananas, oranges –all great choices for a snack and typically portable. Yet, sometimes they do get warm, bruised and browned in their transition. Plus, there are times you just need that chip-like crunch. That’s why I’m glad to have discovered Crispy Fruit freeze-dried fruit snacks from Crispy Green. It’s got the crunch of a chip but the sweetness (and nutrition!) of natural fruit. The ingredients are simple: only real fruit and the process of freeze-drying retains most all of the nutrients you receive from a fresh piece of fruit without adding anything! Plus, they’ve got 7 different flavors from banana to apple, pineapple to mango so you’ll find a flavor you’ll love while eating something good for you! They’re a staple in the Get Healthy U office and in my gym bag and briefcase.
– Greek Yogurt: A good source of protein, purchase plain Greek yogurt and add in your own nuts, fruit or honey to sweeten it up. Many of the flavored store-bought versions have more sugar than you think!
– Popcorn: Skip the microwave version, and pop some yourself or find a brand of packaged popcorn that only has popcorn, oil and salt for ingredients. There are plenty out there!
When you have healthy snacks on-hand such as these, you’ll be less likely to overdose on a bag of processed chips, a box of cookies, or your kiddo’s leftover mac and cheese.
3) Prioritize More Sleep
My third simple step for the New Year is to get more sleep! Even just an extra 15 minutes to half hour can make a difference. So many of us don’t get an adequate amount of sleep and the consequences are serious. Besides feeling tired and low energy, a lack of sleep causes low productivity, inflammation in the body, increased appetite (which makes it hard to lose weight!), a higher risk of serious conditions like heart disease, high blood pressure and more.
So what’s it going to take for you to catch a few more z’s? Maybe it’s not procrastinating on a work deadline or not waiting until the end of the night to finish those chores. Or maybe it’s time to put the devices down. So many of us crawl into bed with our computers and phones and before you know it, we’ve been staring at the screen for an hour. Whatever you need to do, try to find a way to get just a little extra sleep and in the morning, you’ll be so happy you did.
4) Drink More Water
Keeping hydrated is one of the best things you can do for your health and one of the easiest too! Every single morning, before I eat or drink anything—and that includes my coffee—I reach for a big glass of lemon water. I squeeze about half a lemon into 16 to 20 ounces of room temperature water and drink it down! So simple, yet so good for your body. Lemon water balances your pH levels and gives your digestive and immune systems a boost, plus you’re starting your day hydrated!
Staying hydrated helps you stay energized and helps all of your body’s systems work better. Drinking enough water can also keep you from over-eating; believe it or not, sometimes when you think you’re hungry, your body is actually trying to tell you that you’re thirsty. Drink a big glass of water between and with your meals and see if you eat less. And if you struggle to drink enough water on a daily basis, try our hack here. It’s a game changer!
What you do consistently will help you establish healthy habits. Write out 1-2 things you can do every day to take your life in a new and positive direction. Maybe you’re going to try our 10-minute HIIT workout and snack on Crispy Fruit from Crispy Green in the afternoon. Maybe you’ll go to bed a half hour earlier and start your day with a tall glass of lemon water. Whatever you choose to do, start with small, simple steps that you can accomplish and feel good about. Once you accomplish those things, you’ll feel more positive about yourself and be more likely to stay motivated. Remember small changes can equal big results! Make this your year to establish healthy habits that last!