Habits to Break, Habits to Keep

sean mcgrath/flickr.com

sean mcgrath/flickr.com

It’s been almost a month since we logged our New Year’s resolutions, which means we’re about to find out if this year’s group is here to stay. Three weeks may make a habit but, with life always getting in the way of good intentions, sometimes it’s hard to even get that far.

With a little know-how, you can keep up with the good and get rid of the bad.  So, before you close the book on a resolved 2010, try holding true to your resolutions with these tricks in your pocket.  Who knows?  We might just keep those resolutions rolling all the way to next year.

Habits to Keep

Eating fruits and vegetables

  • Have fresh fruit or a side salad instead of french fries or chips at restaurants.
  • Include lettuce and tomato on your sandwich – even better if it’s a dark green lettuce such as romaine. The darker the leaf the more nutrients it packs.
  • When you’re traveling by airplane choose tomato juice or orange juice mixed with sparkling water instead of soda. And bring your own snacks – fresh and dried fruit and nuts are healthy options that can help keep you fueled until your next meal – they are also better bets than the giant cookies and potato chip stacks sold on the plane.
  • Pack a baggie of cut-up fruit and/or veggies to bring to work to snack on when you get the late-morning or afternoon munchies. For added flavor and protein dip them in peanut butter or bean dip such as hummus.
  • Add vegetables such as diced or shredded carrots, red pepper, squash, and spinach to sauces, soups, casseroles and pasta sauces.
  • Buy a juicer and experiment with different combinations of fruits and vegetables – carrot, celery, beet, apple, orange, blueberry…whatever strikes your fancy.

Opting for the healthy stuff

  • Keep healthy snacks at home and in your desk drawer and office refrigerator – vending machines rarely offer much in the way of good nutrition. Healthy options include dried fruit and nuts, baked corn chips and salsa or hummus, nutrition bars such as Kashi and Clif bars, lowfat plain or low-sugar yogurt with whole grain cereal, string cheese and whole wheat crackers, and fruit and vegetable juices.
  • Read food labels! Watch out for foods that are made with high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils and lots of artificial ingredients that you can’t pronounce.

Fitting your workout to your body and your lifestyle

  • If your workout has started falling by the wayside due to demands at work and at home, experiment with trying to fit your workout in early in the morning or during your lunch hour. Last-minute meetings and tasks can’t get in the way of an early morning run.
  • Listen to your body to help prevent and properly treat injuries in a timely manner. If your knee becomes painful after runs, ice it and try swimming instead of running until the pain resolves.
  • Mix it up – try cross training – your body will benefit from a variety of activities and you won’t burn out – physically or mentally – from engaging in just one activity.
  • Renew your gym membership, map out a new running/biking route, join a running club, buy some new gear – all will help motivate you to stay fit in 2010.
  • Set new fitness goals – register for a race sometime later in the year and train with that in mind; gradually increase your pace and/or distance on runs, bike rides and swims; add strength training to your cardio workout; add a new routine to your ab workout; start doing yoga!


Habits to Break

Eating for comfort or stress-relief

  • Sugary, high-fat foods won’t make the stress go away or provide lasting energy and could lead to feeling sluggish during workouts, weight gain and other unwanted health effects.
  • Instead, grab a healthy snack (see above), take a walk, a yoga class or pick up the phone and call a friend.

Bailing on healthy eating because you had two pieces of cake last night

  • It happens to all of us. You’re allowed to indulge from time to time.
  • Just don’t overdo it and get right back on the wagon the next day.

Skimping on sleep

  • Make it a top priority.  Sleep affects everything.  In fact, not getting enough sleep can negatively impact athletic performance, lead to weight gain, moodiness, stress, forgetfulness and an inability to function at your best.
  • Sleep like a baby by treating yourself as a kid.  Set a reasonable bedtime for yourself every night and stick to it.  Once your body gets accustomed to a regular schedule your overall sleep will be more restful and your morning wake ups less of a battle.

Make 2010 a healthy, happy new year by doing your best to maintain healthy habits and ditching those that are not doing you any good. Check in with yourself every few months to monitor your progress and keep yourself honest. Come 2011 you’ll be glad you did!


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