Navigating the New Year

The weather has gotten colder and the days shorter, making many people struggle with their motivation to do physical activity, including exercise. Then, like a storm, January comes. This is the time of year when people want to lose weight, get in shape, and plan to live healthier, happier lives. Many will do anything to fast track results, often sacrificing an actual healthy lifestyle. This winter, don’t fall victim to the promises of fast weight loss, drastic diet restriction, or an exercise plan you are not ready for. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

As we prepare for the new year, many of us look to the last one and review it in terms of success and failure, and while there are benefits to this, focusing on everything we didn’t accomplish can deflate our inspiration. So this year, try taking a fresh breath, forget about what didn’t work out, and initiate some positive, doable changes in your life that can improve your overall health and wellness. And keep in mind that change can be fun, and when you’re having fun, you are more likely to achieve your goals. Instead of focusing on long-term commitments and New Year’s resolutions, think of starting off with small steps that can lead to a big win! 

One way to get started on a positive note is to take the time to consult with a certified personal trainer, who can give you a personal fitness assessment and help determine the proper place for you to begin or re-start your fitness journey!

Here’s some other seemingly small things you can start doing now to help get you going:

  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator
  • Stand more often
  • Park at the back of the parking instead of close to the entrance and walk
  • Add a vegetable to breakfast or lunch

Seize the year by really taking time for you. Use it to decide how you want to react to the world around you. And remember to see opportunities in each day.

Here are two more recommendations to consider. The first is to create a safe place to unleash your thoughts. How about a journal? This will give you a unique place to jot down ideas, goals, emotions, or other personal thoughts.  And what better time than the beginning of the year to start one?  Write down what is important to you and let your journal become whatever you make of it. Get creative!

The second recommendation is to practice mindful eating. Mindful eating is associated with lower Body Mass Index (BMI), improved blood glucose and blood pressure in those with diabetes, and less severe IBS symptoms in women. Research shows that the digestive process may be 30-40% less effective when your mind strays from eating, causing bloating, diarrhea, gas, and other GI distress.

Here are some strategies for mindful eating.

  • Use chopsticks to slow down how fast you eat.
  • Cut your food into small bites and chew well with your eyes closed.
  • Eat with you non-dominate hand.

Whatever you choose to do this year, do it with positive intent and remember that smaller steps are often a powerful way to make a big impact in your life.

Kaylin Payne, Fitness Director, Kaplen JCC on the Palisades

Jill RosalimskyWritten by Kaylin Payne. Kaylin possesses an M.S. in Sport Psychology and holds numerous certifications, including CPT, AFAA, TRX (1&2), Technogym Master Trainer and Digital Specialist and more. In addition, she is a USA Track & Field Coach and Head Coach at the Brearley School.