Post-holiday wellness tips
The new year is here, the festivities have passed and it’s time to set the tone for 2022. For many of us, health and wellness goals are a priority. Whether or not you’re into new year resolutions, it’s a great time to reflect and envision what’s ahead. To ponder what’s been working and what hasn’t, what you enjoyed and what was a challenge.
When it comes to health and well-being guidance, it can feel like it’s overcomplicated or oversimplified. A long list of paralyzing health to-dos or the simple ‘calorie deficit’ weight loss advice. But a calorie deficit doesn’t guarantee health.
This wide spectrum of health advice makes it difficult to implement any real, lasting habits and routines. You’ve got to do what works for you. Learn what your body responds to, tune into its cues, know your strengths and weaknesses, what wellness rituals are easy to uphold, and prioritize enjoyment. This will help carry your habits throughout the year.
Aim for a better overall health, not just weight loss. Reach for consistency, as well as resolutions-driven sprints. Make January the start of a new lifestyle, not just a weight target month. Leverage the turn of the year to reflect on your relationship with food, exercise, and your overall physical health.
What are food habits?
Start by interrogating your eating habits. When do you eat your meals? What foods do you prefer? Do you have any sensitivities? Do you have a weakness for sugar? What makes you feel great? What foods leave you foggy? Are you a slow or fast eater? Do you get hungry late at night? Where do you eat? Do you eat out too much? Are you an emotional eater?
Get to know your food habits and eating behaviors the old-fashioned way in a journal. Forget about counting calories and focus on pinpointing when you get cravings and why. This will also help you spot the foods or patterns that don’t agree with your body. Review your habits at the end of each week and make necessary changes.
How to break bad eating habits
Changing eating habits you’ve had for years is not easy. It’s why so many people suffer the swings of yo-yo dieting. You start the year with the best of intentions but often, the goals are too macro. Set some micro intentions, based on your eating habits and patterns. Even a tiny 1% improvement every day compounds to sizable results by the year’s end.
If you realize night-time sugar cravings is an issue, set yourself a new boundary of ‘fruit 80% – sweets 20%’ of the time. You don’t have to boycott your favorite chocolate or ice cream. Think of boundaries, instead of goals.
Take every negative eating habit you have and attach a boundary or new intention to it. Eat out too much? Pick two meals a week as your restaurant/takeout nights. Not consuming enough vegetables? Add a side salad to at least two meals a day.
How to ‘eat right’
Once you’ve set new boundaries and intentions, it’s now about reinforcing and maintaining them. Habits take time to develop, so be kind to yourself. Allow for flexibility and fun. Weight loss secrets don’t exist – it’s just about showing up every day for yourself. Don’t fall into the ‘all or nothing’ mentality. Consistency prevails with physical health.
Fill up on fiber, opt for fruit over sugar, choose healthy fats, cook at home more than you buy food, get enough protein, don’t drink your calories, stay hydrated, cut back on refined carbohydrates, eat mindfully, and know your portions.
Aim for a variety of whole, nutrient-dense meals, healthy snacks, and most importantly, foods that you look forward to eating.
Underpin healthy food habits with good sleep, regular exercise, supplements, and the support of your family. Throw the label ‘diet’ out the window. Just eat healthy and live in balance. The weight loss and sustained energy will follow.
Exercise for balance
Most of a healthier way of living happens in the kitchen, but you cannot ignore the importance of exercise, to help you get there faster and live well. Pair cardio and strength training into your week to influence your muscle mass.
Outside of the gym, dance class, running group and all the other ways you move your body, non-exercise activity also matters. Track your daily step count with a Fitbit, Apple Watch or even the iPhone’s Health app. This will capture all your movement throughout the day – walking the dog, cooking in the kitchen, cleaning the house, while at work etc.
Think about exercise for a confidence boost, to prevent injury, and to socialize. Just like you did with the eating habits, adopt the same strategy with exercise. Know your behaviors, patterns, limitations, and interests. Identify what you enjoy the most and create your exercise regime to your strengths.
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Guide your body to great health.
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