Make 2016 Your Healthiest Year Yet

How many of you have ever made a New Years resolution? (All of you raise your hands.) How many of you have stuck with those resolutions for the first week? (75% of you raise your hands.) How many of you continued to worked towards that goal for six more months? Well… this is awkward. Sadly, this is reality. A study in 2002 found that only 46% of people who made a NY resolution are still working on that same goal when June rolls around.

So what’s the problem with society today? To put it nicely, we are flaky, lazy, and we have short attention spans. (Are you still even reading this?) We get really excited about big ideas in the beginning, but very seldom do we actually follow through with them. I mean, think about this. How many times have you and your friends sat around and worked up a big extravagant plan (a party, vacation, etc.), talked about it for 30+ minutes, but in the end it just seemed like too much work so you dropped it and never talked about it again? I guess it’s only natural to be excited about something at first and then after a while it’s not so new and fun anymore. It seems kinda old and… underwhelming. We’ll call it the “honeymoon phase” of New Years resolutions.

However, I would like to think that these NYR stats have improved since ’02. I mean, come on people. It’s 2016 now! We are so much more aware of the importance of nutrition and exercise on our health and longevity these days, and we have countless resources available to help us achieve our health goals. Health food markets, dietitians, personal trainers, fitness clubs, weight loss programs, fitness trackers and apps, healthy meal plans and recipes all over the Internet, and social media platforms promoting health 24/7. The problem is that we have just as many – if not more – unhealthy distractions that create a major speed bump for people who are trying to get on the right path. Fast-food places and restaurants on every corner with tons of high-calorie, high-fat menu items, sweets and fried food galore, video games, Netflix, iPads/tablets and other technology that all keep us glued to the couch. It’s a constant battle between the little angel and devil on your shoulder, right?


Why it takes a new digit on the end of the year to inspire people to make a much-needed and long overdue change is beyond me. But hey, if that’s what it takes, I’m all for it. A new year is somewhat of a big deal – or not – depending how you look at it. If it’s the year you’re getting married or your first child is going to be born, then yeah, it’s pretty significant. For the rest of us, it kinda just seems like another year, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing if you’re happy with the way things are. But I guess it does feel a bit like a fresh start. An excellent opportunity for self-improvement. We could all afford a little bit of self-improvement, don’t you think? Whether you want to become better at your job, lose weight, or exercise more, the new year is a perfect time to get motivated if you haven’t done so already.

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How will you make this year different than past years when your goal to exercise five days a week fell to the wayside by Valentine’s Day?

I have some tips for you that might help:

  • Don’t be overly ambitious. Set one or two goals that are really important to you so you can focus on trying to achieve them over the next year. If you make five different resolutions, you’ll be spread too thin and you’re less likely to stick with any of them.
  • Set goals that are realistic for you and your lifestyle. For example, if you don’t exercise at all right now, don’t make it a goal to start working out for an hour every day of the week. It’s a marathon, not a sprint, so start slow. Aim for three days of exercise a week and work your way up. Every little bit counts!
  • Share your resolutions with a friend or write them down somewhere you will see them on a daily basis. This will help keep you motivated and hold you accountable so you aren’t tempted to quit. Make sure you choose a buddy who has similar goals. That way you can work towards them together and keep each other on track.
  • Don’t give up when the going gets tough. Most New Year’s resolutions require a lot of time and dedication, like losing weight for instance. Unfortunately, you are not going to lose 20 pounds overnight, but don’t get discouraged. Instead, remind yourself why you set the goal in the first place and keep at it. If you are part of the group that is still going strong six months in, then you will see the results you’re looking for, and you’ll be proud of yourself for sticking it out.
  • Don’t forget to celebrate small successes. They will all add up to big successes before you know it.

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Something that I like to emphasize to my patients, clients, friends, family, and readers of my blog is this: You have to quit thinking of it as a diet and start thinking of it as a lifestyle. For most normal non-dietitian people, the word diet has a negative connotation to it. You might think of words like “restrictive, boring, or bland”. But “choosing to live a healthy lifestyle” sounds much better, right? Don’t wake up and dread your fiber and protein-rich breakfast simply because you know it’s good for you and you’re resisting the change. Instead, welcome the nourishing food with open arms. You’ll think, “I get to eat this delicious omelet and bowl of steel-cut oats loaded with fresh fruit that tastes like candy for breakfast!?” Okay, maybe that’s just me. 😉 But I have a very healthy diet, and I can assure you I am never bored.

I will admit, eating well consistently takes some time and planning ahead. Yes, you have to go to the store and stock up on healthy foods like fruit, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, lean meats, Greek yogurt, etc., in order to be able to work them into your meals. Then you actually have to prepare some of them. So eating healthy does seem like a lot of effort when compared to driving through fast-food places and popping frozen dinners into the microwave for every meal. But trust me, it’s worth it, and once you get the hang of it, it’ll seem effortless. All of the recipes that I post are easy and don’t take much time, so really anyone can do them, even those of you who think you are “too busy” to eat healthy. Aren’t you also too busy to go to countless doctor’s appointments and take medications to treat the health conditions you may develop as a result of a poor diet and sedentary lifestyle? I promise, it is possible to live healthy. Have a little faith in yourself and decide to make a change – for you.

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For those of you who already eat pretty well and exercise on a regular basis, make it a goal to maintain those habits in 2016 and choose another resolution that will somehow improve your quality of life. Maybe you want to start volunteering once a month or go out of your way to do something nice for another person every day. Helping others will make you feel good about yourself too, so it’s a win-win. All I ask is that you make your health a priority this year. Whatever that looks like for you, make a change, no matter how small. In the end, it comes down to how important the end goal truly is to you, and how it’s going to impact your everyday life now and in the long run.

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Cheers to the New Year! 🙂

In case you were wondering what my resolutions are, I will tell you. In 2016, I plan to continue to live by the 80/20 rule. Eating healthy and staying on track with my workouts 80% of the time, but never forgetting to give myself that 20% to let loose and enjoy life’s greatest indulgences alongside the people I love. Whether that may be trying a new ice cream place with my boyfriend, going out for happy hour drinks and apps with my best friends, or laying on the couch all day watching Friends re-runs with my pups and only getting 4,025 steps on my Vivofit (and not freaking out about it). Don’t get me wrong; I honestly do enjoy the 80%. I truly love the healthy lifestyle that I have learned to live, and that’s when I feel my best, but the 20% is something that you just have to give yourself. So what’s my resolution? Not to take life (or myself) too seriously. Stress less. Cherish the little things and not take anything for granted. Life is short, and we only get to do it once. So let’s do it right. In the end, it’s all about balance. In 2016, I’m going to do my very best to always remember that.

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Healthy Fruit Crisp

I made this fruit crisp for Christmas Eve/Day this year and my family members (and myself) loved it! It’s a great way to sneak some fruit into the mix during the holidays, and you don’t have to completely sacrifice some sweet desserts. 🙂 This recipe is filled with fruit, plus some other healthy ingredients, with only a small amount of butter and sugar added. It’s a much healthier alternative to some of the other options you probably have available at Christmastime! I am listing the fruits that I used this time in the recipe, but I will probably switch it up and use some different fruits next time, mostly to provide some more color and flavor variety! (Just FYI – the original recipe that I found used 4 apples, 2 pears, and 1 cup of fresh cranberries, if you want to try that combination instead!) Click here for the original recipe on Savory Nothings.

Ingredients:
Filling:
  • 2 medium granny smith apples, cored and cubed
  • 1 can pineapple chunks, no sugar added, drained
  • 1 can mixed fruit (cherries, pears, apples), drained
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • ¼ cup light maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
Topping:
  • ⅔ cups old-fashioned oats
  • 2 tbsp Splenda brown sugar (or 1/4 cup brown sugar)
  • 2 tablespoons whole-wheat flour
  • 3 tablespoons butter (I used Smart Balance light buttery spread to save 50 calories per tablespoon!)
  • ¼ cup chopped pecans
Instructions:
  1. Prepare an 8 x 8 inch square baking dish by spraying with cooking spray. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. To make the filling add the cubed apples and canned fruit to a large bowl and toss with the lemon juice.

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Stir in the remaining filling ingredients and mix well. Add to the prepared baking pan and bake for 30 minutes or until the fruits have softened. Stir once at the 15 minute mark.

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While the fruit is baking, prepare the topping by mixing all topping ingredients together with your fingertips until coarse crumbs form.

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Remove the dish from the oven and stir the fruit well. Top with the oat crumble and bake for another 15 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool for at least 15 minutes before serving warm.

 

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Makes 8-10 servings.

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Aaand dig in! 🙂

Happy New Year everyone! 🙂 

{eat well. live well. be happy.}

Shanna, RD

#wellnessforthewin

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