Do any of your New Year’s Resolutions involve losing weight? Exercising more? Sneaking more self care into your day?
If any of these apply to you, there are healthy ways to achieve these resolutions and turn them into a way of life. Instead of dreading the ideas of losing weight and exercising more, think of it as learning how to eat cleaner and be more active. There isn’t a clear answer to anyone’s goals, but here are some words of wisdom from people in the profession on how to crush your goals while being mindful of how you are achieving them.
There are countless ways to lose weight, but it is important to have the perspective that you’re simply switching to a healthier lifestyle. Diet culture is based on people doing different diets to fit into the thin “ideal.” If you don’t fit the mold, you are negatively stereotyped.
Before diving into healthy eating, registered dietician nutritionist and certified intuitive eating counselor Tyler Rolling said people should question why weight loss is a goal in 2020. She asks students why they’re trying to lose weight and if self worth or fitting in is the motive, because she said losing weight won’t fix that.
“When people have weight loss as their New Year’s resolution, I want to know what part of you doesn’t feel good enough,” Rolling said. “Because that’s what your resolution should be on, self love and compassion.”
Rolling promotes intuitive eating as a healthy way to start the new year because for her, it’s about creating an authentic health model for an individual.
Intuitive eating is about discovering your body and relationship with food, a landscape that is always changing.
She begins by exploring a student’s ideas and beliefs about food. Then, she finds out which foods the student likes and have nutritional value. Rolling calls it “dropping out of your mind and into your body.” She advises students to become familiar with their own hunger and fullness cues as well as which foods satisfy them. If kale doesn’t satisfy you, it won’t motivate you to stay on your health kick.
“Making sure you honor your hunger and respect your fullness,” Rolling said. “I emphasize getting in touch with hunger cues because too often people forget to eat or are restricting food which leads to overeating.”
She tells students to eat every few hours to help with blood sugar and overeating. Starving during a busy day at school leads to overeating and cravings because our bodies crave fatty and sugary foods when we are starving as a survival mechanism. She advises bringing snacks to school, especially ones with high fiber and protein because that keeps you fuller longer. This could include trail mix, dried fruit or a protein bar.
Intuitive eating is a healthy approach to altering your lifestyle because it’s not a surface level, quick fix. It is personalized knowledge about yourself that can change your life. Eating foods you don’t like and having personal obstacles in the way makes those habits unsustainable. The easier the lifestyle change is, the more likely you will succeed.
“There is a learning curve and it can be challenging,” Rolling said. “Self discovery is empowering. If you can be that much of an expert about your body and enjoy eating, that is powerful.”
If you want to learn more or to change your lifestyle, students can call Well-being & Health Promotion to book an appointment with Rolling or request group presentations by visiting their website. Rolling does free, one-on-one sessions with students.
Health is a giant puzzle with a ton of pieces. There is mental, emotional and physical health to be aware of and everything that can impact those such as stress, minimal sleep and eating habits. Rolling said a balanced diet leads to a healthy lifestyle which means being too lax or too rigid won’t help.
“It’s all about balance and showing yourself compassion,” Rolling said. “Compassion is important because we won’t always eat in line with our values, but instead of beating yourself up about it, by showing yourself compassion, you are more likely to engage in the preferred behavior next time.”
Rolling mentioned how real change doesn’t happen quickly, it’s a process. We forget about the journey, but that is where everything happens.
One of the biggest methods people talk about for losing weight is exercising. It is great for productivity, mood and health improvements, but that doesn’t mean you need to get an expensive membership at a fancy gym to enjoy these benefits. Although that is an option, there are a million ways to work more exercise into your day.
Personal trainer and business owner Brian Tabor works at the Aztec Recreation Center. His business, Strong Made Simple, is based on helping people build strength, fitness and confidence.
He recommends people create a list of opportunistic exercises that they could incorporate into their everyday lives, such as parking on the opposite side of campus, jogging up ramps or taking the stairs. He also said if you are starting out at home, you could set a sticky note on your counter, and every time you pass it, do 10 counter push ups or 10 jumping jacks. Walking is also a great outlet because it burns calories without taxing your body too much. Tabor said it doesn’t strain your mental energy and can be very restorative.
If walking is your choice, you could get an app that tracks your steps. Apple watches and Fitbits track your activity throughout the day, and iPhones have a built-in Health app that tracks steps, stairs and other movements throughout the day. Having a step count goal for the day might motivate you to make the walk to your furthest class. Some other daily health hacks include standing and maintaining good posture because this keeps your blood flowing and engages your core muscles.
Fitness accounts on Instagram are also a helpful outlet if you listen to the right ones. Many accounts can lead followers on or have complex workouts that seem impossible, but there are some truthful ones.
“Instagram, and any social media, is one of those places where people only post their best selves,” Tabor said. “It’s hard to find those people you can follow who are willing to be open and share their worst parts as well.”
Tabor said to be aware that these kinds of accounts sometimes use surgery, filters and edits to look perfect. He encourages students and others to use the locator tool on Instagram. By searching the Aztec Recreation Center location, you can connect with people who are here and have similar goals as you. The gym is a social support network along with an exercise space. Using Instagram to connect with gym buddies can motivate you and make gym time a social, fun experience.
An example of an online inspiration who shares her journey is Kayla Itsines. She has her own fitness program called Bikini Body Guide, “designed to show women that a bikini body is every type of body.” She is also a trainer for the SWEAT app where she does workout challenges. She has sets of home workouts if you are looking to incorporate 5 to 20 minutes of home exercise.
If you have an Aztec Recreation Center membership, they offer classes you can incorporate into your week such as yoga, cycling, barre and pilates. There are also intramurals to join, or active clubs.
To achieve your exercising goals and to form healthy habits this new year, Tabor stresses self compassion and showing up. He said to not beat yourself up because that can create a shame spiral. To him, the most important thing is to show up because that’s how to turn exercising into a habit. Consistency is key.
“It’s always great when people want to get started, but people tend to overdo it on goals,” Tabor said. “Set realistic goals. Have goals that are focused on actions instead of results.”
Tabor’s final tip is to get good at one thing and then add another. Small steps are great for progress and confidence. When you have that confidence and feel strong, add another exercise to your day or routine. He also said to combine rewards and pain to continually motivate yourself. A reward could be watching a new Netflix series on a treadmill, and pain could be making a $20 bet with your buddy to go to the gym five days a week.
Overall health is a balance between mental, physical and emotional health. Mental health habits are just as important as exercise habits. Making space for yourself in your life is a necessity if you want a healthy balance.
Psychologist and Associate Director of the counseling center Dr. Martin Doucett stresses balancing sleep, exercise and nutrition. He said once you have that foundation you can build from there. Also, be constantly checking in on your psychological and emotional state to see if those are in a good place.
“Physical health is absolutely connected to our mental and emotional health and well being,” Doucett said. “If anything is out of whack in those areas, it will affect your overall functioning.”
Creating these self care goals for the new year is a great way to start somewhere, but continuing them past the first few weeks or month may prove to be challenging. Doucett said to take your goals and break them down as much as possible. This will make your goals more specific and achievable.
Then, you have to be mindful of your behavior because changing bad habits can be difficult. Doucett’s tip is to keep your goals at the forefront of your mind by having reminders on your phone, writing down your goal-related achievements every week and checking in with a coach or friend.
He said routines, support and habits can all help with turning goals into a lifestyle. Consider motivating yourself by joining a group centered around your goals or getting a mediation app that reminds you to stop and breathe. Being aware and conscious of your goals and behaviors is a step for success. If you don’t hold yourself accountable or have someone else keeping you accountable, it can be easy to forget and fall back into old habits.
“Little self care routines can make all the difference in the world,” Doucett said. “When you are trying to start new wellness habits, you really have to make it a priority and schedule it. You have to find support for it. You have to enroll people in supporting you to maintain new behaviors.”
Another important tip is to have realistic goals. Doucett said it is common for people to take on more than they can handle, and then they blame themselves for failing. When this happens, he said it is important to adjust your goals and accept those adjustments.
“When students hit a bad place, they think they aren’t good enough, but it’s just how much they have on their plate. Don’t beat yourself up for not being able to take 21 units and work two jobs,” Doucett said. “Pay attention to your body and it will tell you what it can and cannot do. You have to do what your body and mind can tolerate.”
He said self care is always important, but the older you get, the more important it gets. People need to balance work, rest and recreation activities to engage in a healthy lifestyle. If you don’t have that balance, adjustments become necessary.
The counseling center encourages students to call the center’s main phone number on its website. The center does a phone screening to evaluate what services you would benefit the most from. They offer individual counseling, group therapy and connections to resources in the community.