11 Ways to Stick to Your Health Goals
New Year, New You? With some simple steps, you can have yourself on track in no time. Health coach with a passion for food and healthy eating, Jacqueline Alwill explains.
1. REFRESH YOUR MINDSET
Wake each day and say one positive thing to start the day. Starting the day positively instead of dragging yourself out of the bed as the alarm goes off will do incredible things for the way you approach your health for the day and the long term.
2. MAKE A PLAN
Good health, and making changes to your health, won’t happen without some planning. Write a plan for the week or month so you know your direction and can stick to it. Without knowing where you’ll be in December, it's best to carry out your plan in small bites and you’ll be more likely to kick your goals.
3. BUDDY UP
There are some goals in health that might be a common denominator for you and a friend, family member, flatmate or colleague right next to you. Taking part in a fun run or fitness event, Feb Fast and Dry July and giving up (or limiting) sugar are some that spring to mind. Health goals are much easier when there’s someone by your side going through the process with you. If you feel a little flat, they’re there to pick you up, motivate you and vice versa. You don’t need to hide your health goals, share them and see who comes along for the ride.
4. REST WELL
Sleep is a powerful tool for optimizing health. It’s our body’s time to repair, restore and be fully charged mentally, physically and emotionally for the following day. You won’t be on your A-game to make other changes in your diet, exercise or mindful approach to health without a well-rested body.
5. DITCH YOUR VICE
Try for a week to let go of the one thing that is your vice. The challenge is to retrain the way you think, which is often one of the greatest hurdles when it comes to bad habits. Once you know what you’re capable of, you may find it easier to take the next step…or leap!
6. h2 GO
A well-hydrated body is most definitely on its way to being a healthy one. It’s such a simple tool in health yet so often goes amiss. Without adequate hydration, other health aspects and goals might not be achieved as you wish. An example of this is that the liver, kidneys and digestive system thrive on adequate hydration to help flush the body of both endotoxins and other toxins we consume (environmental and dietary) on a daily basis. Without these organs functioning well, we allow the toxicity to stay within our body longer and the ability of our body to absorb nutrition effectively is reduced. Keeping some water on your desk or by your side and taking a sip when your mind wanders from a task is a great way to ‘trick’ yourself into drinking more water.
7. MAKE VARIETY YOUR SPICE.
If food is part of your health makeover, then the trick is not to let yourself lapse into a routine of eating the same foods each day. A similar approach will help you with movement too. Jogging the same course every day will only help for so long. When you expose your body to a range of different exercises (a balance of intensive and restorative), you will feel and see the change. Remember, variety is the spice of life, and our bodies respond accordingly.
8. LEARN AND CREATE
Just as diversity will improve your body’s response, so will learning and creating new things be it in the kitchen, the garden or the gym. When it comes to food, I encourage you to pick up a new ingredient each fortnight and play around with it in the kitchen. Create three new recipes or ways to use it so it doesn’t taste the same all the time. When you start to do that, your learning is inspired, and your creativity opens. Other great things will snowball from there.
9. RESIST TEMPTATION
You are less likely to feel tempted by alcohol, sugar, salt and vinegar chips or whatever might be your vice if you’ve got a well-stocked fridge and pantry full of healthy, scrumptious, wholesome food. Stock up on healthy snacks (raw nuts, seeds, nut butter, fresh fruit, vegetables, seeds and vegetable crackers, hummus) and plenty of high quality protein (fish, chicken, legumes, meat), healthy fats (avocado, olive oil, coconut oil, nuts) to see you through the times when you feel tempted to reach for something lower on the nutrient scale.
10. SUPERCHARGE THE SWAPS
We all have our favourite foods we believe we cannot live without. It's as simple as a few tweaks here and there in the kitchen and all your favourite foods have had a makeover with delicious, nourishing ingredients in play.
Here are a few ideas to start with:
- The Evening Drink: Sparkling water with a wedge of orange, lemon, lime and mint sprigs. Pop it in a wine glass if it makes you feel more social. Fresh coconut or my favourite – kombucha. Kombucha for those new to it is a delicious, naturally sparkling, nutritious beverage that comes in all sorts of yummy flavours (raspberry, ginger, lemon, nettle, passionfruit, green tea and it goes on). Keep those elements in mind FIRST because if I told you it was a fermented drink made with SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast), then you’d be more likely to turn your nose up and tell me to take my ideas on ‘refreshing’ beverages elsewhere.
- The Chocolate Hit: Raw cacao is your friend this year – keep it in your kitchen and know this bean well, really well. Combine raw cacao with coconut oil and maple syrup for a nourishing block of raw chocolate or with almond milk, vanilla and honey for hot chocolate in style. The options are endless with this nourishing ingredient by your side.
- The Comfort Foods: If pasta is one of your weeknight comfort friends in food, perhaps it's time to change the ingredients a little, clean up the way you’re eating and make simple swaps of traditional wheat pasta with vegetable noodles (a spiralizer is going to become your partner in kitchen crime in no time). Think delicious rich tomato sugo, Bolognese or chilli prawn with zucchini pasta and have a try at the recipe below.
11. Be Good to YOU
This is one of the most important steps in ensuring you stick to your goals because a little reward makes the journey that much sweeter. Book a massage, beauty treatment, weekend away, whatever it is that makes you tick and helps you recognise your achievements. Positive reinforcement doesn’t need to be sought from others, the best person to give it is YOU.
ZUCCHINI PASTA WITH TOMATO SUGO
- 800g zucchini, spiralised (or long thin peeled slices)
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, sliced
- 2 400g tinned whole tomatoes
- 6 anchovy fillets (optional)
- 1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted
- 1/2 bunch basil leaves, leaves picked, stalks finely chopped
- Salt and Pepper to season
- Shaved Pecorino to serve (optional)
Heat the oil in a medium sized saucepan over a medium high heat.
Add in the sliced garlic and cook for 1 minute until fragrant.
Stir in the chopped basil stalks and cook for a further minute.
Add in the tomatoes and anchovies and bring to the boil.
Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes until the liquid has reduced.
Stir through the olives and basil leaves, remove from the heat, season with salt and pepper and serve on a bed of zucchini noodles.
Jacqueline Alwill has an Advanced Diploma in Nutrition Medicine from the Australasian College of Natural Therapies.