At the start of every year, we make our set of resolutions to work smarter, exercise more, eat better and so on. But come February and the gym card will lie unused, the fruit juicer will collect dust and we will most likely be back to eating all the junk food we had sworn off. This year, let us resolve to find ways to make our new year resolutions work for us! Here are some of my easiest life-hacks to help you keep your healthy new year resolutions:
Hack #1: Cut back on sugar
Cutting back on the sugary stuff may seem like a daunting task, but you can start doing this slowly and effectively. For most of us, tea is our daily lifeline. If you like a spoonful of sugar in your tea, that’s about 4 grams of sugar per cup. With three cups per day, that’s 12 grams of sugar a day, 360 grams a month and 4.4 kilograms a year! If you want to cut back on your sugar intake, start by going sugar less with your afternoon cup of tea. Tea without sugar is an acquired taste, but you will get used to it, trust me! Once that happens (perhaps in 2-3 weeks), you could cut back on sugar in all cups of tea or coffee, and your taste buds will gradually get accustomed to less sugar.
Hack #2: 5 portions of fruits and vegetables a day
Experts recommend you eat at least five portions (1 portion = 80 grams, which is roughly the amount that would fit in your palm) of fruits and vegetables a day. My advice: don’t try to do it all in one meal! Instead, nibble on a fruit as soon as you reach your office or as a mid-morning snack. Later, during lunch, include a salad. That way, you’ve already eaten two portions. The other 3 portions can then be conveniently split between your evening snack and dinner.
Hack #3: 150 minutes of moderate physical activity a week
There is no way to skip exercise, but you can change the way you approach it. “Moderate intensity” refers to walking at a speed of 3 miles per hour or 1 km in 12 minutes. Wake up 15 minutes earlier in the morning and go to sleep 15 minutes earlier at night. This will help you fit in 30 minutes of exercise a day. You could even squeeze in your 30-minute walk during your lunch break as long as it is not too hot. Schedule lunges or squats while watching your favourite TV show.
Hack #4: Eat healthy fats
Research has shown that “not all fats are created equally,” which means that some fats are actually better than the others. Unsaturated fats should be a part of your diet while saturated fat should be minimized and trans fat avoided altogether. One way to make sure you are getting good fats is by swapping your cooking oil with healthier alternatives like olive oil or rice bran oil. These heart-healthy choices have the least saturated fats and are very versatile for any type of cooking.
Hack #5: Stay away from junk food
This one seems like a tough and we all know how it usually turns out. You avoid eating junk food for a week and then you binge on it over the weekend! If, like most people, you cannot stay away from it, then keep two phrases in mind: 1) “in moderation” and 2) “no extra helping.” So, if you give in to an occasional craving and eat a Vada-Pav or a pack of chips, make sure you do not indulge too often. Keep your kitchen shelves clear of fried snacks and your fridge clear of sugary treats chocolates – temptation is easy to avoid when it doesn’t exist!
All said and done, the key to sticking to your new year resolutions is to just keep up. Even if you slacken the pace for a week, do not worry about it. Just pick up from where you left off and you’ll be fine.