By Isadora Baum
When it comes to setting up goals for a new year, weight loss is often the most common resolution, but in 2020, why not stop being so narrowly focussed on the pounds on the scale and instead concentrate on being happy and well? Losing weight and fat certainly has its benefits, but health is not just about that — there are other factors in your life that can bring joy and lead to a healthy mental and physical state (and, yes, even unexpectedly weight loss).
This coming year, look to other healthy milestones that will help you feel strong and balancedin your life, no scale needed.
Be Active, but Do It For Fun
Find an activity that you love to do, and make it your mental release rather than a means to drop pounds. “You’re more likely to stick with what you love because your mindset is in a positive place beforehand, and your endorphins will guide you throughout,” said Macie Crumb, certified trainer and yoga instructor at Studio Three in Chicago. This could be a hike with friends, a dance class, or yoga. “You’ll also reap the feel-good benefits of endorphins and won’t hyperfocus on the scale’s number or the number of calories burned,” she said.
Take Breaks From Social Media
Social media can distract us from being present and eat up time you could be spending focusing on your mental and physical health. “Check your phone settings to see how many hours you spend on Instagram and other social apps, and try to keep it under 2.5 hours. Baby steps are still improvements,” said Crumb. Some phones will even trigger a notification to let you know you’re close to your allotted limit for the day. “Remember, Instagram is just a highlight reel. Be mindful in creating your balance,” she added.
Create a Buddy System
Gather your crew and rely on one another for love and support. “Make a conscious effort to practice self-love by creating a texting buddy system. Through the week, send each other affirmations. Lean on your rocks to keep your spirits soaring,” she said. If you’re looking to work out more, eat healthier, or take more mental breaks, use this network to fuel yourself and keep yourself accountable.
Eat More Plants
“We know it’s important to eat our fruits and vegetables, but a shift toward a more plant-based diet has been shown to increase disease prevention, protect against heart disease, and increase fibre intake, among other things,” says Maggie Michalczyk, MS, RD.
The best part about resolving to “eat more plants” is that you can totally interpret it in whatever way is best for you. “It doesn’t mean going completely vegetarian; it can be as simple as practicing meatless Monday or experimenting with a different grain in your rice bowl next time. Focusing on adding or swapping more nutritious components into your diet is a great way to combat the oftentimes very negative elimination mindset that rolls around when it’s time to come up with a resolution,” she said.
Cook at Home 3 Times a Week
Break out your favourite cookbooks, pots, and pans. “Cooking a meal at home not only leads to positive health benefits like reduced calorie and sodium consumption, but also to using healthier ingredients and creating a sense of togetherness that you don’t always get when eating at a restaurant,” Michalczyk said.
Plus, “cooking with a partner, a friend, or family members is a great way to make fun memories in the kitchen, try a food you’ve never had before, and relieve stress,” she said. These are all things that contribute to health and well-being just as much as food itself.
Make Time to Meditate
“It’s easier said than done, but research says that mindfulness is significantly correlated with positive affect, life satisfaction, and overall well-being,” Michalcyzk said. Whether it’s making time to use an app on your phone or a more structured meditation space, vow to take this time to set yourself up for success in all other parts of your life. “With as little as 10 minutes a day of meditation shown to make an impact on resilience, stress, and memory, it’s an easy resolution to make that can create more positive ripples in the future,” she said.
Be OK Saying No
We’re often stretched so thin amid work, commitments, and our social lives that we don’t prioritise doing things for ourselves or recharging when we need to. “FOMO is real, and I’ll be the first to say experiencing something you missed over social media sucks, but what’s even worse is having a physical or mental sign show you it’s time for a break before you take one,” Michalcyzk said. “I say make this the year of saying no and not feeling bad about it, be unapologetic when it comes to your needs, and watch as your mental and physical well-being skyrocket,” she added.
Explore Your Sexuality
“One resolution I am encourageing my clients to try this year is understanding their own unique experience with pleasure,” said Holly Richmond, PhD, LMFT, a somatic psychologist and AASECT certified sex therapist. That means not being afraid to experiment with what you like and taking charge. Having sex benefits your mental health by reducing stress, so making sure you’re having a pleasurable sexual experience is really about health.