New Year’s is the perfect time to look back on everything you’ve accomplished and appreciate a year’s worth of hard work and determination. It’s also a great time to make new goals for yourself, especially if the holiday season took a toll on your health.
As you assess your fitness level and personal habits, you may resolve to make 2021 the year you finally get in shape. Nearly 50% of Americans plan to accomplish this by exercising more. From hitting up the gym to attending online fitness classes, millions hope to start a new workout routine.
Of course, regular exercise is only a small part of a healthy lifestyle. If you truly want to reach your fitness goals and stick to a workout routine, you must incorporate other healthy habits, too.
Here are a few ways you can take a holistic approach to your physique this year and avoid spending countless hours on the elliptical.
1. Focus on Wellness
First and foremost, focus on wellness. Even if weight loss is part of your plan, the best way to improve your health is to improve your relationship with your body. Understand what it needs and how you can support it.
Refuse to let those weight loss pills, supplements and detox teas tempt you with their false promises of quick results. Turn a blind eye to those photoshopped and airbrushed ads and turn your attention to how you feel when you work out, eat well and care for your body. Eventually, you’ll stop chasing a number on a scale and find some contentment in the healthiest version of you — whatever that looks like.
2. Eat Intuitively
Taking a more holistic approach to your health will help you begin eating more nutritious foods that can support you on your fitness journey. Do some research and learn which ones offer the most vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Look into plant proteins as an alternative to eating meat and, most importantly, eat intuitively.
Listen to your stomach and digestive system to determine when and how much to eat. Stop when you feel full and pay attention to how your body feels after each meal. How does it physically and mentally respond to the things you just put into it? Keep a food journal to better understand your body’s reaction to different foods and how you can fuel it better.
3. Move More
Adopting a workout routine isn’t a bad way to start the new year. In fact, doctors recommend at least 30 minutes of cardio three to five days a week for optimal health. However, simply choosing to incorporate more movement into your day can be beneficial, too.
Move more by taking the stairs, parking further away from the grocery store or striking a few yoga poses during commercial breaks. Make a conscious effort to limit screen time, too. The average adult spends more than 11 hours a day interacting with online media. If you could reduce that time by even an hour, you’d naturally have more time to invest in movement and your overall health.
4. Find Your Niche
Of course, maintaining your workout routine will be difficult — if not impossible — if you don’t enjoy it. Therefore, it’s crucial that you find your niche and stick with it. Try a wide variety of exercises and fitness classes. Most studios offer discounts for first-time visitors and some may even let you in free of charge just so you can try the class.
Once you find a sport or activity you enjoy, make it part of your daily routine. Choose a time that works best for you to move and breathe. Then let everyone know that you’ll be busy during that time. Taking that extra step to prioritize your fitness will set you up for a successful, healthy year and make it easier to say no to skipping your workout.
5. Train with a Buddy
If you’ve done everything to create a routine but still lack the motivation to start working out, find a fitness buddy. Hold each other accountable, go to the gym together and meet up for walks or runs. Cheer on your pal as they reach their fitness goals and encourage them on their journey. If they’re a good friend, they’ll do the same for you.
As your year becomes busier and your energy wanes, continue to prioritize your time together. When you can’t meet in person, take online fitness classes together or call to check in and give fitness updates. It also helps to have more than one training partner to lean on so if one dips, you have backup support.
Recovery Matters, Too
In their race to lose weight and get those gains, many people forget to rest. Yet, giving yourself time to recover from intense workouts is a critical part of any workout routine. By permitting your muscles to heal between sessions, you can better prepare for the next one, improve your performance, replenish glycogen stores and decrease your risk of potential injury. Ultimately, those rest days will help you stick to your routine and achieve your biggest goals in 2021.