There’s always so much pressure after the holidays to define a new year, a new you. Yet you might just be setting yourself up for failure. It’s not only the WORST time of year to attempt a dramatic lifestyle change (read: winter fatigue); most New Year’s Resolutions aren’t specific enough to measure success.
Raise your hand if you ever kept a New Year’s Resolution. Ever. Anyone? Bueller? Bueller? See, you’re not alone.
On average, 80 percent of resolutions fail by the second week of February each year.Dr. Kevin Campbell, US News & World Report
So this year instead of making one lonely New Year’s Resolution, we’re challenging you to try out 12 new healthy habits in the next 12 months. Look at it like speed-dating habits. Keep the ones that work for you and kick the others to the curb.
12 Months of New Habits
In case you don’t know where to start, here’s a roadmap to a healthier and happier you, one month at a time.
January: Relax, Already!
That new diet and gym membership are going to become the bane of your existence this month when you return to work tired and exhausted from the holidays. You’re going to want to throw that cup of diet tea at your boss and mow down all the donuts in the breakroom when that avalanche of unanswered emails hits your inbox.
Workplace stress is not only real, it’s on the rise. What’s more: stress is your enemy when you are trying to lose weight. Increased cortisol levels — stress hormone released by the adrenal glands — can lead to weight gain and cardiovascular problems.
Try This: Meditation
Start with daily 5-minute meditations and gradually increase the number of minutes. Aim for 10-15 minutes of meditation by the end of the month.
February: #BuJo, Because Planning is Prevention
This is the annual American Heart Month, so it seemed fitting to introduce something called a Bullet Journal. Keeping a Bullet Journal (or BuJo for those already initiated) can help you track and measure your health goals.
It’s really easy to promise yourself you’ll go to the gym everyday after work and start bringing salads for lunch. Yet, it is also all too easy to come up with excuses not to do those things (you know what they are) and then conveniently forget about the promises to yourself.
Try This: Wellness Journaling
Hold yourself accountable. Plan and track workouts and weekly heart-healthy menus in a Bullet Journal this month.
Bonus: Journal with S.M.A.R.T. Goals
Last year we talked about ditching pie-in-the-sky resolutions for measurable and attainable goals. Learn more about S.M.A.R.T. Goals here.
March: EMF (Eat More Fiber)
Experts tell us that one of the best dietary predictor of long term health is the amount of daily fiber we consume. Adequate fiber intake not only improves digestive and gut health, it is also linked to maintaining a healthy weight cardiovascular health. If you aren’t eating enough fiber, you’re at a higher risk for weight gain, constipation, high cholesterol, heart disease and diabetes.
There’s a good chance you aren’t getting enough in your diet. There’s a population-wide deficiency — what nutritionists call the “fiber gap ” — with close to 95 percent of people in the US falling far short of the daily recommended amount (25 grams for women and 38 grams for men).
Try This: Make Better Fiber Choices
For this month, try adding 1 to 2 fiber-rich foods to your daily diet until 10-15 grams soluble fiber per day.
April: Green Your Body & Mind
There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature—the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.Rachel Carson
The winter is behind us, by evidence of the buds on the trees and tulips and daffodils are in bloom. The theme for this month is spring renewal, with a nod to Earth Day. From learning more about where our food comes from and making healthier choices to testing the water in our homes, there are opportunities every day for improving the quality of our life and the environment.
You’re probably familiar with this idealistic refrain: “Make Earth Day every day!” — but what does that really mean? It is easy to get caught up with life and work and lose a sense of connection with the environment.
Try This: Practice Eco-Mindfulness
Try swapping out one habit or behavior a week with a more eco-friendly option. Check out our list of ideas here.
May: Get Your Daily Dose of SPF
The sun is rising earlier and setting later. And the mild temps are oh-so tempting. And after being cooped up all winter, it’s a treat to get outside and enjoy the sun!
90% of skin aging is caused by sun exposure. Here’s another fact: you can’t reverse skin damage from the sun. Mindlessly leaving the house without sunscreen or not applying sunscreen properly can put you at risk.
Try This: 30 Minutes Before You Go
With adequate protection, you can prevent sun damage while enjoying all your favorite outdoor activities. Sunscreen takes, at minimum, about 15 minutes to absorb before it is effective. If your sunscreen is chemical, make sure that you apply it 30 minutes before going outside (if you’re unsure, apply early).
Bonus: Boost SPF Protection with Vitamin C
June: Daily Self-Affirmations
The more you hear something, the more you believe it. It’s called the “illusory truth effect” which what happens when you start believe something after it has been repeated over and over again.
Sometimes the things we’re hearing or telling ourselves aren’t making us feel so good. Maybe it was an event, like a break-up or getting laid-off. Maybe you didn’t get the promotion you expected or you simply feel like you aren’t measuring up. But focusing on negative thoughts isn’t healthy.
Try This: Daily Affirmations
It may sound cheesy on the face of it, but there is truth to the power of positive thinking. According to the Mayo Clinic “positive thinking helps with stress management and can even improve your health”. This month practice daily affirmations. Here’s a list to get you started.
July: “100-Mile Diet”
This diet isn’t focused on weight-loss, but many people claim that it can help keep the pounds off. The concept is that you limit yourself (as much as possible) to food produced within 100 miles of your home.
There’s nothing wrong with lining up for Popeye’s Chicken Sandwich. But when our diets lean heavily on processed or over-packaged foods we aren’t doing our bodies — or environment — any good.
Try This: Visit Your Weekly Farmers’ Market
Look up you local farmers’ market and make it point to visit it weekly this month.Support the environment, local farmers, your taste buds and fuel your body with the nutrients it craves!
August: Good Hydration is a Game Changer
The dog days of summer are a good reminder that, like plants, we’ll wilt without enough water. It can be hard to keep up with your recommended daily water intake, it can be hard to choose water over the flavor of soda.
Interesting fact, if you find yourself craving sugar or soda you are likely dehydrated. What’s more, is your entire body needs water to function properly. Water is essential for the kidneys. And if you’re dehydrated, your skin becomes more vulnerable to aging.
Try This: Infuse Your Water
An easy way to make your water more exciting is to add a little bit of flavor — something as simple as simple as a lemon wedge to something as complicated as a custom unsweetened tea blend make great calorie-free additions to water. Here are some ideas to get you started.
September: Back-to-School Meal Cheats
Even if you aren’t going back to school (or have little ones that are), we all get overwhelmed with life. This month is about saving time and money on meals without sacrificing nutrition or flavor.
You know the story. You want to be healthy. You want to eat a good home-cooked dinner. But, if you are like any working adult, you also have 5,000 other priorities and cooking dinner is not one of them. Because you haven’t been grocery shopping in weeks!
Try This: Sign-up for a Meal Plan
No, not like a college cafeteria meal plan. Grocery shopping takes planning and time. And if you grocery shop without a plan you find yourself throwing out a lot of food. To the rescue! Subscription meal boxes give you the satisfaction of a home-cooked meal without the burden of planning and shopping.
October: Tame Thy Sweet Tooth
This is the GIVE ME CANDY month. And whether you are 5 or 50 you are going to be offered sweets for the next 120 days.
We all know sugar is bad. That it might be as addictive as cocaine (at least according to hyperbolic news coverage). Here are few reasons why toooooo much sugar is not good for you:
- Leads to adult-onset diabetes and obesity
- Impedes absorption of protein
- Causes cavities and decrease oral health by increasing bacteria
Try This: Halloween Candy Swaps
Granted, Halloween is only one day of the month. But is it, really?! Here’s how to enjoy a bag full of Halloween candy with some moderation? Check out these swaps to knock out that sweet tooth!
November: Be Thankful.
Studies have shown that the more grateful you are, the better your mental, emotional, and physical health. This sounds easy at first but think about the last time you actually sat down to focus and reflect on the things you were grateful for in your life
It can be easy to get caught up in the negatives that happen in life because they tend to cause us the most discomfort and sadness, which is why gratitude lists are so important in maintaining a healthy outlook on life.
Try This: Make a Gratitude List
My favorite Thanksgiving tradition has always been going around the table and stating what everyone is thankful for. But why have one day of a year to think about what you are thankful for? This month, try to give thanks every day.
December: D is for Detox
You are a living, breathing, whistling detox machine. Your liver and kidneys are working every day to break down and filter out toxins and harmful substances from your body. Which is a good thing, because we are exposed to everyday chemicals that aren’t good for us. So how can a detox diet or cleanse program help?
It’s hard to make changes to diet because you have to make a conscious effort over a period of time — 66 days to be exact — before a new habit becomes automatic. Also, it’s the season for over-indulgences and you may need a reset before the New Year.
Try This: “Body Reset” Detox Diet
A detox diet isn’t going to “clean out your colon” or to remove toxins from your body any more than what your liver and kidneys are doing. But, it can help support the natural detoxification process and potentially help alleviate other issues.