Healthy resolutions to make this year
It’s a new year, which means...
it’s time for a fresh start. You get to wipe the slate clean of things that didn’t work and set fresh strategies to make 2019 your best year yet. Trying new things and adopting new healthy habits means you’re less likely to get bored and more likely to stick with your health and weight loss goals.
- Keep your gut healthy
“There’s a lot of research suggesting their’s a link between the bacteria in your gut (called your gut microbiome) and your mind, mood and possibly even your weight,”says Dietitian and WW Program Developer Nicole Stride. Probiotic-packed and fermented foods – such as yoghurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi and kombucha – are linked to good gut health. Try our recipe for Korean chicken and kimchi fried rice. Regularly eating a variety of these types of foods ensures your gut is healthy.
- Bring back the beans
“Another important element to maintaining a healthy gut is eating prebiotics,” says Stride. They act as food for the good bacteria (probiotics) and help them flourish and function. There are many sources but legumes (beans, peas and lentils) are a great one – add homemade baked beans to your meal plan. Try our recipe for Creole prawn salad with black bean salad.
- Eat a variety of seafood
“As tasty as it is, salmon isn’t the only fish option readily available,” say Stride. “Less over-fished seafood such as sardines and mackerel are also great sources of omega-3s.” As we look for sustainable ways to feed the planet, there’s been a push back to the guys of the ocean. In response to over-farmed land, nutrient-dense sea vegies are also growing in popularity. Think kelp, nori, wakame and dulse. Sea vegie salad anyone?
- Sprinkle some goodness
“Adding nuts, seeds and sprouts to your meals not only adds a new texture, but improves the nutritional profile of the meal as well,” says Stride. Add them to salad, muesli, yoghurt, healthy muffins or low-fat smoothies. Herbs and spices are great add-ons too. “Not only do they enhance the flavour, but they may also have a positive impact on our health due to their antioxidant properties,” says Stride. Add turmeric and green herbs to your morning omelette for an antioxidant boost
- Explore new foods
“Eating a variety of foods from all five food groups every day is likely to lead to better health outcomes,” says Stride. That’s because you’re reaping the benefits of the various vitamins and minerals from a wide variety of sources. Be adventurous! Choose a new recipe to try each week, explore foreign foods or prepare the foods you love in different ways, like making cauliflower rice, sweet potato toast or zucchini noodles.
- Train shorter and sharper
“The trend of shorter, more intense workouts will continue into 2019,” says exercise physiologist Neil Russell. “It’s a highly effective way of training.” He suggests 15-30 minute high-intensity workouts a few times a week, consisting of resistance exercises to get the big muscles working and explosive cardio to drive the heart rate up. Think boxing, short sprints, skipping, full-body exercises and dynamic ab exercises like mountain climbers. Try our boxing workout.
- Work-out like a ballerina
Dance-based workouts are here to stay. There are many types, but ballet barre-inspired fitness classes are so hot – go to barrebody.com.au/timetables to find a ‘Barre Body’ class near you or look for similar spin-off's, such as ‘Barre Attack’, at your nearest gym.
- Suspend, stretch, shape up!
“Suspension training is big,” says Russell. This style of training uses resistive elasticised equipment (such as bands and cords), body-weight and gravity for strength, stability, balance and flexibility gains. Try it at a studio with a suspension set-up or purchase a portable piece (anchors to a door frame) to try at home. You can also do aerial-style yoga and fitness classes using suspended stretchy slings, hammocks and harnesses – go to antigravityfitness.com.au/locations to find locations near you.
- Take up gymnastics
“Gymnastic and callisthenics-style workouts are gaining popularity,” says Russell. Think bars, rings, beams, ladders and trampolines. But before you launch into a cartwheel, there are stages to building up to it, he warns, such as shoulder, hip and core mobility and strengthening exercises, as well as postural conditioning. “This becomes part of the program,” he says. “So it’s not just about the moves, it’s also about building the posture, full-range strength and skills to execute them.” If you’d like to try it, some gymnastic and trampolining centres offer adult classes; parks are dotted with bars and beams; and Fitness First runs Gymnastics Strength Training classes in Sydney, with more locations planned for 2019.
- Climb over obstacles
“We’re seeing a move away from the military boot camp to a more fun user-friendly style of obstacle training,” says Russell. Find an outdoor training group or set your own obstacle course using old tyres, ropes, boxes (anything goes) – the kids will love it, too!
- Be kinder, feel happier
“There’s a strong connection between kindness and wellbeing,” says clinical psychologist and Swinburne University Lecturer Dr Michelle Lim. To be most effective, she recommends five small acts of kindness a day. “These don’t have to cost anything or be large gestures,” she says. “They can be as simple as giving a compliment or opening a door for someone.”
- Feel positive
“It’s a misconception to believe that we can be happy all the time,” says Dr Lim. “Happiness waxes and wanes and sometimes it’s okay to just feel okay.” Rather than feeling you have to be happy, which can in itself be stressful, focus instead on creating different positive emotions – such as interest, joy, contentment, delight, acceptance, hope and curiosity.
- Start a gratitude journal
“Expressing gratitude is a powerful exercise,” says Dr Lim. “It can help you improve the quality of your relationships and focus on the positive things in your life.” Make it a daily ritual: treat yourself to a gorgeous notebook or try a gratitude keeping app, such as Gratitude Journal. Another tip? When giving thanks to others, Dr Lim says to be specific – instead of, ‘You took care of me’, be more specific and say, ‘You were there for me when I was sick and made me feel less alone and afraid’. Deliver your thanks through a letter, card, phone call or face-to-face, and reflect on how acknowledging your thanks made you feel afterwards.