Setting your New Year Health and Fitness Goals

Image courtesy of Marcos Santos.

For many of us, the start of a new year brings the opportunity to make lifestyle changes, whether it’s eating better, exercising more, quitting smoking or reducing stress. But while the New Year brings renewed motivation, this is often short-lived. Achieving long-term success requires planning, commitment and action.

Here are some tips to help you to achieve success in 2019:

Set realistic and achievable goals – make your goals challenging but not impossible.

Turn your goals into a plan of action – write a list of the steps you need to take to reach your goal and give them a deadline for action. Consider a tool like Lifetick a web-based app that allows you to set and track multiple goals, create tasks and reminders, view your progress with charts and reports and even invite others to support and keep you motivated.

Create your plan of action immediately – take advantage of the increased motivation that comes with the start of the New Year and get started on your plans now!

Have a compelling reason to change – this will provide you with the motivation to get started and to keep going when things get tough!

Get organised – work out what you need to do to change. This could be stocking your cupboards with healthy foods, finding a personal trainer or talking to your doctor about quitting smoking.

Consider the entire year, not just New Year’s Day – Nothing big gets accomplished in one day. Resolutions are set in one day, but accomplished with many small steps that happen throughout the year. New Year’s resolutions are just a starting point but you need to continue to revisit your plan.

Seek support – tell others about your goals and get their support. Can they be your exercise partner or just keep you accountable for your actions? Consider joining up to Promise or Pay for some added motivation and to support a good cause.

Reward yourself for your achievements – planning a reward for achieving your goals is a great way to keep you motivated.

Remain flexible – expect that your plan can and will change. Often life throws unexpected things at us, and flexibility is frequently required to achieve your overall goal. Sometimes the goal itself will even change. Take the time to re-evaluate your plan and overall goal throughout the year.

Your Healthy 12 Days of Christmas

On the first day of Christmas my dietitian said to me….

Plan ahead for the festive season

This time of the year tends to get busy and it’s easy to let good habits slide.  Even if there’s plenty of festive eating over the next few weeks, you can still stay on track by making sure you are eating well the rest of the time and staying active.  Check out our tips for Surviving the Festive Feasting.

On the second day of Christmas my dietitian said to me….

Keep food safe!

Christmas is a time to get together with your family but it can also be a danger time for possible food poisoning.  Hot weather, an overloaded fridge and cooking for more people than we’re used to all add up to make perfect conditions for food poisoning bacteria.  Check out these tips on Christmas and holiday entertaining from the Food Safety Information Council to keep you and your guests safe.

On the third day of Christmas my dietitian said to me….

Give healthy gifts

A healthy cookbook or magazine subscription (such as Healthy Food Guide or Diabetic Living), gym memberships or exercise equipment, a healthy cooking class, massage vouchers, a collection of herbs and spices, veggie seeds or seedling….there are plenty of options.  Check out some of our favourite recommendations.

On the fourth day of Christmas my dietitian said to me….

Eat mindfully

Eating out is a great time to enjoy the company of friends and family so don’t rush through your meal – relax and take your time to eat and enjoy your food, listen to your appetite, and be selective about what you choose.

On the fifth day of Christmas my dietitian said to me….

Don’t overdo the Christmas Cheer!

The end of each year is a time when many people have one (or two) too many when it comes to alcohol.  So what can you do to still enjoy yourself without the negative effects of too much celebratory cheer?  Check out our seven tips to help avoid overindulging.

On the sixth day of Christmas my dietitian said to me….

Go for sustainable seafood

If seafood is on your Christmas menu, then give some thought to choosing species which are not overfished or are farmed using sustainable and low environmental impact practices.  These include Australian wild-caught salmon, crabs, flathead and whiting and Australian farmed barramundi, oysters, prawns and crabs.  Download the free Sustainable Seafood Pocket Guide or app to help you when you shop, and help protect our oceans from overfishing.

On the seventh day of Christmas my dietitian said to me….

Keep active

Don’t let your exercise habits fall apart as you head into the festive season.  Keeping active can help to manage stress and to balance out the effect of those extra eating indulgences. Even if time is short, there are plenty of ways to incorporate more activity and it all adds up.  Catch up with friends for a walk rather than a coffee, organise a game of cricket or touch football with friends and family rather than sitting around after a big lunch, park further from the shops and take the stairs rather than the escalators when shopping, take an evening walk with the kids to see the neighbourhood Christmas lights or put on your favourite music and get a good workout cleaning the house in preparation for visitors.

On the eighth day of Christmas my dietitian said to me….

Beware of nibbles!

It’s often not the main meals that are our undoing at this time of the year, but all the extra snacking that comes along with festive celebrations.  Many snack foods are high in saturated and trans fats, salt and added sugars so serve up some healthier options or offer to take them to a party or gathering.  Some good options include unsalted nuts, roasted chickpeas, vegetable or legume-based dips with vegetable crudites, fresh fruit platters and berries.

On the ninth day of Christmas my dietitian said to me….

Reduce food waste

While we all enjoy sharing a meal with friends and family over the festive season, food waste is particularly rife at this time of year.  Planet Ark’s 12 Do’s of Christmas campaign includes tips for reducing food waste and excess packaging, buying green gifts and recycling.

On the tenth day of Christmas my dietitian said to me….

Make a healthier version

Enjoying the festive fare doesn’t have to mean undoing all your good habits built throughout the year. There are plenty of nutritious tasty options available and many recipes can easily be modified to make them healthier.   Check out the recipes we have hand-picked in this Christmas book or visit our Christmas recipe collection on our new Pinterest page.

On the eleventh of Christmas my dietitian said to me….

Manage stress

Stress isn’t good for our health or our weight so remember to schedule in some relaxation time amongst all the business of Christmas and enjoy the opportunity to catch up with friends and family!  If the stress of the festive season is getting to you, check out this article from Health Direct for Beating Christmas Stress and Anxiety.

And on the twelfth day of Christmas my dietitian said to me…..

Have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy and Healthy New Year!

Smart food swaps for your health and weight management

Eating well doesn’t have to mean totally overhauling your diet.  Making just a few small swaps to your usual meals and snacks can really add up.

By switching over some key ingredients in some of your common meals, you can cut kilojoules, saturated fat, sugar and salt while boosting fibre and your overall nutrition.  By choosing the right carbs you can also lower blood glucose and insulin levels and feel fuller for longer.

Here are a few swaps to get you started:

Breakfast: begin the day well

  • Choose traditional or steel-cut rolled oats in place of processed breakfast cereals to avoid added salt, sugar and fat. Make them into porridge, cooked with stewed apple and cinnamon, or make a home-made muesli or overnight oats.
  • Change white or wholemeal bread to dense wholegrain bread – the more grains the better!
  • Leave off the butter and margarine and instead, top your toast with avocado, ricotta cheese or natural (100%) nut butters.
  • If you like a cooked breakfast, forget bacon and sausages and instead serve eggs with vegetables such as grilled tomato, poached asparagus and sautéed spinach and mushrooms.
  • If you like beans, make your own healthy baked beans, like these ones thanks to Healthy Food Guide.

Lunch: refuel the right way

  • If you enjoy sandwiches and wraps, choose wholegrain breads, replace butter, margarine and mayonnaise with avocado or hummus and pack them with plenty of salad.
  • Avoid processed meats, which have been linked with higher risk of cancer, heart disease and diabetes, and instead use leftover home-cooked lean meats or chicken, canned fish, boiled eggs, cheese, marinated tofu or legume-based burgers and patties.
  • Choose soups made with lots of vegetables, legumes and grains and avoid the creamy varieties. Check out some of our favourites here. Cook up a batch on the weekend and you’ll have lunch sorted for the week.
  • Make salads more satisfying by incorporating grains and legumes. Make your own dressings from olive oil, vinegar and lemon juice or for a healthier creamy option try combining tahini and lemon juice. Here are some of our favourites.

Dinner: switch a few ingredients for big savings

  • Aim to balance your plate with half non-starchy vegetables or salads, one-quarter lean protein and one-quarter wholegrains or starchy vegetables.
  • Replace white rice and pasta with wholemeal/wholegrain varieties and try other grains such as barley, quinoa, freekeh and burghul, to increase fibre and lower the GI of your meals.
  • Replace white potato with orange sweet potato, pumpkin and corn. Mashed white beans (cannellini or butter bean) make a great high fibre, lower GI alternative to mashed potato.
  • Switch animal protein for plants (e.g. legumes, tofu and tempeh) a few times per week or replace part of the meat or chicken with legumes in dishes such as mince, curries and casseroles. Our Meat-Free Monday recipe suggestions might provide some inspiration.
  • Replace a jar of tomato-based pasta sauce for the equivalent amount of canned crushed tomatoes or passata, to cut added salt and sugar.
  • Replace pre-made simmer sauces with low salt stock, fresh or dried herbs and spices and canned tomatoes to add flavour without the added sugar, fat and salt. For some tasty home-made sauce and dressing ideas, check out our Pinterest recipe page.
  • Replace cream in cooking with carnation light evaporated milk, ricotta cheese or soaked and pureed cashew nuts and replace sour cream with natural Greek yoghurt to cut saturated fat and boost protein and calcium intakes.
  • Replace salt in cooking or on meals by adding flavour from fresh and dried herbs and spices, lemon and lime juice. See our tips for using herbs and spices here.

Snack wisely: satisfy hunger between meals without adding to your waistline

  • Choose fresh fruit as the perfect package-free and portable snack. The last Australian health survey found that around half of Australian adults weren’t eating the recommended 2 or more serves of fruit per day.
  • Swap chips and corn chips for a handful of nuts or roasted chickpeas to reduce saturated fat and salt and boost protein and fibre intake.
  • Swap puffed crackers and crispbreads (including rice crackers) for wholegrain varieties such as Ryvita, Vitaweat and Carman’s Super Seed & Grain
  • Choose dips made from vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds over cream, sour-cream and cheese based dips and serve them with raw vegetable crudites rather than crackers and chips.
  • Replace flavoured yoghurts with natural yoghurt mixed with fresh or frozen berries or passionfruit.

Rethink your eating habits

It’s not just what you eat but also your eating habits that impact your health and weight. These changes will make it easier to eat well, manage your weight and enjoy your meals:

  • Be a mindful eater. Put all meals and snacks on a plate and sit down to eat rather than eating on the run or while involved in other activities. Take your time to relax and enjoy eating.
  • Eat at the table, not while watching television or in front of your computer.
  • Use smaller plates, cups and bowls – there’s good evidence that this can help you to eat less while still feeling satisfied.
  • Whether at home or eating out, stop when you are satisfied and avoid the temptation to clean your plate.

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