We’re now three full months into 2017 and by now, it’s likely you’ve abandoned some or all of those amazing New Year’s resolutions you made.
Don’t worry—this is perfectly normal, and there’s still plenty of time to make this your best year yet. We asked some experts to give us their top tips and tricks to help you reset your goals and stay on track:
SET REALISTIC GOALS
If you swore you would go sugar-free and go to the gym for an hour every day forever, perhaps a gentler approach might work better. Try making your goals more attainable, and start by knowing where you are currently, suggests Jose Luis Beltran, fitness manager at Rancho La Puerta. “Knowing where you are in order to know where you’re going is a key element for a successful wellness program,” he tells Clean Plates. “A simple assessment will help set up measurable goals.”
Once you’ve been on your wellness path for a while, “check in with yourself six to eight weeks later to measure your progress,” Beltran says. “This will help you decide whether to modify or continue with your current regimen.”
Tiffany Cruikshank, author of Meditate Your Weight and founder of Yoga Medicine, uses moderation to keep herself (or get herself back) on track: “My focus is on picking one to two days a week to enjoy the sugar, alcohol, or bread I cut out at the beginning of the year without going overboard,” she says. “The key is to slowly ease back into moderation to keep the momentum moving in a healthy direction.”
DON’T HESITATE TO MEDITATE
Meditation is scientifically proven to help with focus, decreasing anxiety and stress, battling pain and boosting immunity. So whatever is in the way of your goals, meditation can help. And now it’s easier than ever to get started. Whatever your meditation style, there’s an app for that.
“Meditation has a wide range of effects,” Cruikshank says. “It enhances cognitive function, like memory, concentration and mental stability, and mindful body awareness. It decreases stress, and increases immune function. For many it also boosts libido, because of the lower stress and cortisol levels, and helps regulate energy levels, and much more.”
If meditation sounds intimidating, it’s actually as simple as breathing. When you start feeling stressed or anxious, Cruikshank recommends this super-easy exercise: “Begin by inhaling for a count of 4 and exhaling for a count of 6; repeat. If that’s comfortable, you can inhale for a count of 4 and exhale for a count of 8. For most people, just 3 to 5 rounds of this will shift the stress and anxiety response and create a noticeable difference.”
SIMPLIFY HEALTHY EATING
All the fancy healthy food blogs and glamorous recipe videos on Instagram can be so overwhelming, it’s tempting to just slip into a pair of sweatpants and tuck into a heap of macaroni and cheese. Miranda Hammer Shear, R.D., and founder of The Crunchy Radish, reminds us that healthy eating doesn’t have to be tricked-out and camera-ready all the time.
“There is always such a positive momentum that starts on January 1st with the bar set very high,” she says. “This often leads to a lot of disappointment and yo-yo dieting. Repetition, leaning on leftovers, and keeping it simple is the foundation for years of healthy eating.”
Start with the simple act of loading up on vegetables. “I focus primarily on leading a plant-based lifestyle,” Shear says. “The key is to be nutritionally mindful and balanced without feeling like you are deprived or missing out. Make plants the main part of your plate and add in animal proteins here and there if you want to.”
PUMP UP YOUR WORKOUT
There’s nothing more frustrating than faithfully going to the gym every day, only to hit a plateau. Luckily, the best way to get a jumpstart is also the thing that will beat boredom: Get off the treadmill (literally and figuratively), change things up and give yourself a push.
“Newton’s first law of motion states that a body at rest will remain at rest unless an outside force acts on it,” Beltran says. Try some new classes, take your gym up on the offer of a free session with a trainer—anything that will challenge you in a new way. “Become more active and stay active. Getting out of your comfort zone is an important stimulation for creating muscle confusion.”
If self-motivation to work out harder is not your forte (hey, we feel you), join a group. “I know the community aspect of meeting up and practicing next to friends on the same path is one of the biggest motivators for practitioners at our studio,” says Bethany Lyons, owner of Lyons Den Power Yoga in New York City.
USE SETBACKS TO YOUR ADVANTAGE
“Instead of seeing a roadblock as a reason to give up, use it to help you gather insight. “Failure is the key to learning and growth—you learn what doesn’t work for you,” says Lyons. “Whether it’s one workout, practice, run, or ride, take the significance of the setback and move forward one step at a time.”
CELEBRATE YOUR SUCCESSES
Give yourself some real rewards for sticking to the program. “Upgrade your next flight, buy some great undies, or order that book you’ve been eyeing,” suggests Lyons. “Treat yourself to something that is special to you.”
Adds Beltran: “This is one of the most powerful elements to stay motivated. It creates discipline and a sense of encouragement.”
Also published on Medium.