When it comes to our New Year resolutions, fitness tends to top the list of goals. But getting healthier isn’t necessarily about getting fit. Increasing your fitness activity is a great start (and certainly goes a long way to helping you get healthier), but your diet, heart health and mental health are other factors for consideration when it comes to making your resolutions.
So, if your resolution is to get healthier (broadly speaking), here are some changes you can and should look into, to be healthier this year.
If you’re goal is to lose some weight, it’s worth bearing in mind that to achieving this it is 75% diet and 25% exercise. To help you lose weight, and keep it off, you need to factor in the two; one won’t work (long term) without the other.
Therefore, it may be sufficient enough, with your current intake, to simply increase your exercise or if you’re currently getting regular exercise but finding you’re not shifting the desired weight that your diet could do with a review.
We’ve known for some time that sugar, in excess, is just not good. The problem with sugar, is it seems to be in everything; from cereals to pre-prepared food, sugar is hidden in everything. It is something we can be more mindful of though.
Cutting down sugar is not only beneficial to overall health but it’s a quick fix to losing a little bit of weight. Review your current sugar intake and look for easy ways to cut it out; opt for snacks that are higher in protein; review your quantities of sugared drinks- if you take it in tea/coffee- how many a day would you say you have? And look at food labels to see how it factors into your daily intake.
We should be having a maximum of 5% of total calorie intake (30g) of sugar a day. So, on review, if you’re consuming above this, aim to reduce it (and it couldn’t hurt to reduce it overall anyway!).
Going vegetarian has a number of health and environmental benefits. It’s proven to help lower cholesterol and increase your intake of fibre and antioxidants. Something our diets could do with more of. Additionally, it’s fun to experiment in the kitchen and arm yourself with some new and varied dishes.
We’re not saying you have to give up meat or fish totally but incorporating one or two dishes a week to going vegetarian can be extremely beneficial.
5 A Day
What is your current intake of fruit and vegetables like? If you’re struggling to get your 5 a day in, look at ways you can increase that. Your new vegetarian recipes are likely to contain or certainly boost your daily intake but what about outside of that? You could try incorporating smoothies or juices into your day, celery/cucumber/carrot sticks for your snacks (better that fruit which can be high in sugar) or opting for salads at lunch instead of sandwiches.
Don’t forget that your water intake is an important factor in your diet. We often forget to drink water on a busy day and although we’re all getting better at grabbing an extra glass here and there, we could still be slipping on the daily recommended. We’ve plenty of suggestions to help you increase your water intake if this is a particular resolution for you.
Arguably, your heart health is the be all and end all of your overall health. So, why not make heart health your priority this year. Your heart rate, blood pressure and cholesterol levels are all indicative of your heart and overall health.
You can test and train your heart rate at the gym, it’s about how hard your heart has to work. You first need to establish what your resting heart rate is; then work out what your maximum heart rate is (the maximum it can be worked to- NEVER go beyond this and NEVER work to this level everyday- this is simply a test of health) and do some cardio to get your heart to this point. Once you’ve reached this point, rest and see how long it takes for your heart to return to normal. The quicker it returns to your starting point, the healthier your heart.
We all need cholesterol, it keeps the heart well oiled, but too much and that is dangerous for heart health. With ½ of adults walking around with high cholesterol, it’s something we need to be concerning ourselves with.
It’s a simple test that you can have done at the DRs and even your local pharmacy. When they give you the results they’ll advise if it is high, regular or good cholesterol. Then with a chance in diet and exercise, you can bring this down for a healthier heart.
Let’s make mental health the top of our resolutions list for this year. Let’s identify our triggers for stress and anxiety; recognise when we’re on the brink of burnout; feel more in tuned with what is going on with our bodies, our sense of self worth and our levels of confidence and self-love. Take steps when things seem to be escalating to help bring us back to the present.
In general, let’s make time for ourselves, do things we want to do, be with the people we want to be with. As a rule of thumb, reserve one day a week/over the weekend to do the things we want to do and love and if possible, take a weekend to spend with your significant other; let’s reconnect.