The new year is filled with resolutions, hopes, dreams and a renewal of priorities. Perhaps you’ve made “living a healthier lifestyle”, “eating better”, or “losing weight” a goal of yours for 2021. While these are great resolutions, what that looks like on a daily basis can sometimes be confusing or overwhelming. Today, we are going to break down the best healthy habits that are fun, actionable, and have a high impact on helping you achieve your other goals for the year. Afterall, it’s hard to accomplish difficult tasks if you don’t feel well and have low energy.
One of the best things we can do for our overall health is to comprehensively reduce inflammation at its core. This alone will help you live a healthier lifestyle, feel motivated to eat better, and lose weight plus it will also help you maintain a healthy microbiome and immune system – something we are all conscious of right now.
With that in mind, these habits also need to be easy to implement. They need to be actionable with quick wins (mostly to keep us motivated more than anything else) and not take up our entire day. We have big goals to accomplish this year!
So here are my top three choices to help you feel great and to accomplish everything you want out of life this year:
Get a System for Meal Planning
Life becomes so much easier when you don’t have to think about what is going to be on the dinner table each night. Creating systems in our life is the key to accomplishing our goals and finally figuring out how to meal plan is foundational (perhaps even transformational ). Not only does it relieve stress, it helps you maintain other routines throughout the day. If you don’t have to disrupt your schedule in order to run to the grocery store, place an online grocery order, or frantically scroll Pinterest, you’ve just gained time in your day to do other things…and that is priceless.
In a nutshell, here is how meal planning works:
- Find recipes to make for the week using items from your freezer or pantry. Organize recipes on a Pinterest board, Trello board, a calendar, or on the notes app on your phone. Start by filling out desired meals for dinner and then mindfully using leftovers for lunches. Feel free to jot down breakfasts and snacks as well. Don’t be afraid to cook a huge batch of something on Saturday or Sunday and then eating it all week – this is a huge time saver!
- Once your meal plan is complete, create a grocery list. Write down all the ingredients you will need to make the recipes you chose for the week and go shopping in your own pantry and refrigerator first. Cross off the items you already have. To save yourself time in the store, organize your list according to the grocery store set up by highlighting categories like “Produce”, “Baking Aisle”, “Meat & Deli”, etc.
- Once you’ve done your grocery shopping, see how you can make the rest of the week easier by washing, chopping, or dividing ingredients according to your recipes. I often put the prepped food in a container in the refrigerator and write on the outside with a dry erase marker the recipe it belongs to so I can grab and go more efficiently during weeknights.
- Check your meal plan daily so you can be prepared for the next day.
If this still sounds like a lot of work, I’d like to encourage you to check out two powerful resources that will make a huge difference as you are setting up your meal planning system. One is a resource I developed called the Recipe Vault. This is a year long meal planning system that comes complete with the calendar plan for the week, the shopping list, beautiful pictures, and easy healthy recipes. There are over 50 meal plans organized by diet or nutritional need (i.e., Immune Boosting Meals, Positivity + Happiness Plans, Summer Programs, Weight Loss, etc) including a 21-Day Whole Foods Challenge that I recommend doing 1-2 times a year. It’s the perfect resource for anyone looking to get organized in the kitchen and all recipes are low-inflammatory (gluten-free, zero processed sugars, zero packaged foods, etc).
The second resource that has made a big impact for me personally is the Cook Once, Eat All Week Cookbook by Cassie Joy Garcia. This beautiful cookbook has 26 weeks of meal prep plans to help you save time in the kitchen and all recipes are gluten-free.
Take Back Control of Stress
Over time, having too many stress hormones in your system is linked with increased inflammation … and all the problems associated with it! What can you do about it?
Most of us have never learned how to cope with stress. In fact, many of us were taught to “deal with it” and ignore it, in hopes that it would just magically go away. “Pushing through” is often the very WORST thing you can do to get through a tough period, since it can keep your stress hormones elevated. If you’re not careful, feeling stressed can even become your new “normal,” so you don’t feel like yourself unlessyou’re feeling the pressure.
The good news is, you can take back control by learning some easy techniques that will calm your body, ease your mind, and lift your spirit.
Here are two of my favorites:
- Wake up each day and spend 4-5 minutes deep breathing. Deep breathing helps reset your autonomic nervous system – the system that controls your automatic functions like your heartbeat, blood pressure, swallowing, etc. – into a calmer space. And it only takes a few minutes to achieve this reset. How cool is that? Here’s how you do it:
- Sit comfortably in a chair, your knees bent and your shoulders, head and neck relaxed. Place one hand on your belly just below your rib cage, and the other on your upper chest.
- Breathe in slowly through your nose, feeling your stomach move out against your hand. The hand against your chest shouldn’t move.
- Next, draw your stomach in as you exhale through your mouth. Again, the hand on your upper chest should remain still.
- Repeat for 3-5 minutes.
- Make sure you unplug every single day. Make time every day to be away from technology. Turn off your phone, power down your laptop, and go into another room (or outdoors) and enjoy the downtime. Hop into your calendar and schedule this time so it actually happens. My favorite go-to of all time is to walk barefoot outside in the grass every day it’s possible. This is called grounding or earthing and is extremely powerful.
Rediscover Your Focus
Another way to accomplish big goals and to set healthy habits is to rediscover your focus. How can you do this?
- Find your why. Having a larger purpose in your life can help put stress in perspective. You might find you have more than one “why”– it could be your family, your health, or some other goal, but I encourage you to dive inwards to find the thing that keeps you ticking.
- Embrace positive self-talk. Turn negative thoughts into positive ones. Example: instead of thinking, “Today is the worst …I’m never going to get everything done,” tell yourself, “I can handle this if I take it one step at a time.”
- Organize your time. Learn to manage your time more effectively. Try
not to overcommit. Break down larger problems into smaller parts by taking one step at a time instead of tackling everything at once. I use tools like Google Calendar and Google Tasks to help keep me focused and organized. Again, creating a system – even a paper and pencil – works if it’s used.M/li>