Kicking off the New Year often comes with a flood of messages like:
* New Year, New You
* Transform yourself in 2024
* Make this your best year yet!
Which I'm sure are all well-intentioned, but also are usually paired with a gym membership, a diet trend, a cleanse or detox, or something that is geared towards kickstarting your weight loss journey.
According to a Forbes Survey conducted for 2024, they found that the most common resolutions for the new year were:
Improved fitness (48%)
Improved mental health (36%)
To lose weight (34%)
Improved diet (32%)
I'm all for supporting your health goals and journey to improve how you feel and how your health is supported regularly. But according to the same study, the average resolution only lasts just 3.74 months. 8% of respondents tend to stick with their goals for one month, while 22% last two months, 22% last three months, and 13% last four months.
And I'm a BIG believer in making sustainable lifestyle changes, instead of just the New Year's resolution approach. Because after all, you want this to last longer than March, right?! As a holistic health coach and integrative nutrition coach, here are my top tips to help you not only kick-start your year but keep it going long past the resolution fall-off.
Beyond the Scale: Nutrition Strategies for Sustainable Weight Management
Cooking at Home
With the cost of food on the rise, this one is both great for your wallet and your body. The benefit of cooking at home gives you total control over what you eat, how it's made, and to some degree when you get to enjoy it (sometimes life and commitments intrude here). This is going to be supportive of weight management since you get to choose the foods and how they are cooked. When cooking at home you can select quality protein sources, cook portion sizes that meet your nutritional needs, and minimize exposure to oxidized oils that are sources for free radicals and inflammation that are often used in packaged foods and restaurant kitchens. Opting for colorful meals, variety in texture and flavor, but also what your food is cooked with enhances the nutritional density of the food supporting your energy, hormones, digestion, and more.
Where to start: Pick a reasonable number of meals to start cooking at home and stick with it - the day doesn't matter. ex: 2-3 meals a week you cook dinner at home (and maybe have enough for leftovers for lunch 1-2 days).
Eating without a screen
Put the phone down, close the laptop, and turn off the TV when it comes time to eat. As a society, we praise multi-tasking but there is so much power and benefit in focusing on one thing at a time, to give it your full attention. That includes eating. You'll not only enjoy the food better but it's way better for your digestion. Minimizing distractions helps with weight management because you can instead focus on chewing your food longer which gives your body the signal to start that digestion process. You also taste your food better because your sole focus is on the food instead of splitting it with something else. And you'll increase your meal satisfaction (instead of under or overeating) since your hunger and fullness cues aren't being drowned out by the Zoom meeting or tv show, you're paying more attention to when to stop eating before discomfort or if you need a little more to satisfy you and keep that blood sugar, energy, and cravings.
Where to start: Even on those busy days, block at least 15 minutes to eat and close the laptop. If youre in an office, walk to a different part of the office to eat or go outside.
Incorporate protein into every meal
Protein is king!! I wish I learned this sooner in my health journey. It is the most satiating macronutrient so make sure you get enough at each meal. There are many different sources of protein - some foods are a rich sources of protein like chicken, steak, salmon, greek yogurt, eggs, or tofu where others can be additional supplemental sources to add to your meals like bone broth, hemp seeds, almonds, and lentils . Protein is key in helping to lower blood sugar spikes, keep your ghrelin levels (hunger hormones) at bay longer so you feel fuller and less snacky, and break down in the body to help build muscle, all of which will help you keep up with maintaining your weight.
Where to start: Pick your protein first for meals and snacks. Then build around it with additional veggies and fiber sources. Don't be shy about how much - a rough guideline to start is 25-35 grams per meal but adjust accordingly.
Ditch the rules
When there are rules, your inner child wants to come out and break them! RIGHT?! So instead, give yourself the freedom of no rules. Instead, adopt the mindset of 80x20 - identify the habits/food choices/movements/and practices that you do the majority of the time (so that 80%) that make you feel your best. Then when you have special occasions, a tough or stressful day, a friend coming into town, or that 'I just feel like it' moment you do some things differently (that 20%) that might fill your soul up a little bit more. This can look however you need it to (having a rest day, eating some more indulgent, having a cocktail etc). Filling up your cup is just as important as the traditional healthy choices. Finding what 80x20 looks like for you and how it works comes with trial and error so experiment until you find a balance.
Where to start: Skip the intentional setting at the start of the year or a new chapter of saying "I'm doing to stop doing/eating x" and instead lean into outlining what your supportive routines and rituals are. Lean on those frequently and leave room for the other stuff every once in a while. There is no perfect for this.
Movement You Enjoy
Shoot for 3-4 days a week where you get some sort of movement! This will be way more beneficial for your physical and mental health in the long term, instead of trying to force yourself to complete a strict workout regimen that isn't realistic for you. We all have busy days or have that form of exercise that you dread doing. If you have to force or reward yourself to do it - it isn't going to last. Movement can be walking, stretching, yoga, doing some movements with dumbells, or taking a class. All apply - but make sure its something you enjoy. And keeping it open and fluid - variety it great. Maybe you only take a class 1 day a week, but the rest of the days you are out several times for walking meetings, taking evening strolls with the family, or walking from the furthest parking spot in the garage and taking the stairs. If you consistently can do it - that's what will stick!
Where to start: Identify what movement you enjoy, and where in your schedule these might fit best. What is realistic for you to do each week? Where can you break up your day with movement? How much time do you want to commit?
If accountability is something that you struggle with, lean on your circle. Share your goals and plans with loved one or work with a coach to help with check-ins and reminders of your why!
You can join me on a coaching call where we chat regularly to see whats working and what roadblocks are coming up for you. And our Wellness Within women's membership is a community available to you where ever you are when you need support, or questions answered as you navigate your health journey.