We are almost two months through the year so let’s check in on those New Year's resolutions. Sadly, I've already fallen off my daily discipline in Duolingo Spanish, and Netflix and Prime binge-watching have obliterated my plans to read a book a week.
On a positive note, I'm still getting to the gym for some cardio, weights and swimming about three times a week. However, I can tell many other folks who planned to get in shape in 2020 and who stuck with it through January have dropped off as the crowds have thinned out and its easier to get a locker, even at peak periods.
This is the problem with New Year’s resolutions or any commitment to change at any time of the year. Old habits are hard to break, and the latest science of behaviour change reveals that new habits don’t take three weeks to develop, most habits and lifestyle changes need at least 66 days or longer of repeated incubation, encouragement, discipline, structure and commitment to grab a foothold in your life.
It's why I'm skeptical of fitness boot camps, fad diets and self-help gurus who promise quick and easy results and how so many of us – yours truly included – sign-up and follow them like lemmings to the cliff only to be disappointed, slip back and spend/waste hundreds of dollars in the process. Yet it is not enough to criticize, so heretofore is one path and plan you may wish to try for the next two months and the rest of your life.
While not based on nutritional science or sports medicine or psychiatry, it works for me: it's called MMEBLAWRRS Daily and stands for Move More, Eat Better, Less Alcohol, Water, Read, Rest and Stretch.
We lead crazy daily leaves and our schedules between work, travel, kids, medical appointments, evening activities, aging parents, and community involvement results in 12- to 14-hour days. And our so-called recharging weekends are jammed with groceries, household chores, gas fill-ups, and more chauffeur trips to kids’ activities, the vet, the mall and so on and so on.
But even during this craziness, you can lose weight, eat smarter, be fitter, think clearer and become more serene. Let’s start with MM – Move More. Park your car farther away and walk an extra 100 meters, take the stairs when you can and build in a 20- to 30-minute walk with your spouse or a friend each weekend.
Next up EB – Eat Better. Again, diets are means to an end and unless you fundamentally change your diet forever, Keto or Paleo or Celery Juice weight losses will find their way back to your frame, it is inevitable. Instead try this... on your next trip to the grocery store, only buy (or aim for 80% or more) stuff on the outside walls and aisles which should fill your basket with fruits and vegetables, fresh meats and dairy or substitutes, healthy grains, nuts, etc. Sticking to the outside real estate avoids all the processed junk that numerous studies link to heart disease, multiple cancers and lower life expectancy.
Now LA – Less Alcohol, this is tough one for wine lovers like me. Some ideas to curtail your beer, wine or spirits intake include only consume on weekends, set daily limits or seek non-alcoholic alternatives. Just find what works and stick with it.
This brings up W – Water. Instead of alcohol, soft drinks, multiple coffees, or juices/smoothies that are overflowing with sugar, nature's clear cola is the answer. Most of us don’t drink enough water so drink more daily and a glass before each meal. Enough said.
The two Rs are Read and Rest. Reading burns more calories than simply vegging in front of the TV... not many but more. Find great escape fiction, an amazing biography or a different take on current events and dive in to that paperback or e-reader, even just a few minutes a day will help and calm you. As for Rest, well, everything your mom or dad told you about sleep never went out of style. Tired people make more mistakes and are never at the top of their game, period.
Finally, S – Stretch. Even if you can’t make it to the gym or are stranded at the airport, stuck on cruise ship, confined to your cubicle on a conference call or just taking a 20-storey elevator ride (and didn’t hike up the stairs, why?), you can find multiple occasions during the day to stay limber. A quick shake of your limbs, half squats, calf, hamstring, shoulder, or oblique stretches keeps the blood flowing and resets your mood and posture.
Make a plan, put it in your agenda and take, small daily steps to a better you. It won't be easy, it will be hard, and it will work! Go MMEBLAWRRS!