If January is the month of good intentions, then February is the month of letting your budget slide, "forgetting" to go to the gym, and eating an entire tub of cookie dough ice cream in one sitting. But it doesn't have to be this way. Success in your New Year's resolutions is possible with better strategies. Here at The Motley Fool, our mission is: Make the world smarter, happier, and richer. With that in mind, Motley Fool Answers hosts Alison Southwick and Robert Brokamp invited Chief Wellness Officer Sam Whiteside to bring some actionable advice.
In this segment, Whiteside suggests some ways to make eating healthier and exercising more often a bit more fun. It's pretty simple: If you hate what you're doing, you probably won't keep doing it.
A full transcript follows the video.
This video was recorded on Jan. 8, 2019.
Alison Southwick: Let's go through specifically what people will say when they (make a resolution) and then let's talk about some of your ways that you can actually get at that goal. For example, when people make a New Year's resolution they often say, "I'm going to eat healthier," and that's so vague.
Sam Whiteside: That's what people do.
Southwick: What are some ways people can actually make goals around eating healthier, or ways to make eating healthier fun?
Whiteside: We all know it's what you put in your body and not necessarily how much you move as far as weight maintenance and weight gain, and that's not what people want to hear because exercise and getting moving is the easier portion of that puzzle piece. Making the healthier choices or abstaining from certain things that are favorite things is the less easy choice, but that's where the gains can come, whether it's putting on pounds or whether it's actually making the scale move.
When people want to eat healthier, the first thing I want you to do is track your food. Do a three or five-day diet recall where you write down everything you eat for three or five days, including portion sizes, including times, as specific as you can be, and have at least one weekend day and not diet recall. Our weekends sometimes, more often than not, look different than Monday through Friday.
Southwick: And there's apps you can use.
Southwick: I've used MyFitnessPal. It's so easy.
Whiteside: Tons and tons of trackers.
Robert Brokamp: I use LoseIt (maybe MyFitnessPal does this, too), where you put in the food that you eat (even brand-name foods). It gives you the calories and then also you log in your exercise and how many calories you burned and (I've said this before on this show), but it really made me appreciate how I can work out for a half-hour and you only burn so many calories and you can totally overwhelm them by just having three Oreos. It's ridiculous.
Southwick: And you don't have to do a track forever. Like you can do it just for a week or seven days of that.
Whiteside: No, I'm not a proponent of that. It can be all-consuming and it almost becomes an obsessive behavior and that's not where our energy should be at all. But get an idea of what you're eating and how much you're eating and start looking at it.
And do you have four or five sodas a day? Do you consume a lot of unnecessary processed sugar? How many green vegetables do you eat in a day? Zero? One? That's a big eye-opener for me. I would automatically say that eat healthier for you could mean increase your consumption of green vegetables. As specific as you can make it.
Eat more green vegetables. Here at the Fool we did a "Taste the Rainbow" challenge probably two years ago, and it was I want everyone to try to consume every color of the rainbow in a vegetable per day, which became pretty difficult. Red bell peppers or yellow bell peppers, and it was a fruit or vegetable, so oranges, spinach, kale, and all of these things, but it made people recognize how narrow their diet was.
They were continually choosing or only two or three of the same exact fruits and vegetables every time. Your micronutrients can get out of whack. So your vitamins A, D, E, and K -- those are fat-soluble vitamins -- we want to make sure all of those are in the right proportion. You need to vary your diet and vary the colors. That "Taste the Rainbow" challenge was super eye-opening for us, here.
Eat healthier can also mean are you only drinking 12 ounces of water a day? I don't know. Let's find that out. If so, for me, I would automatically put you on a hydration challenge. That's going to make you healthier. You're drinker more water. You're flushing out your body. It's going to make your skin brighter. You're going to sleep better. Water has amazing benefits that are just innumerable. Eat healthier means something different to every single person. You have to look at what you're consuming to figure out what that means.
Southwick: Let's talk a little bit more about the resolution of, "I'm going to exercise more!"
Whiteside: That's probably one of my favorites. I go to the gym every once in a while. As many classes as I teach a year and outside of the Fool, everyone at the gym who's a regular always is like, "Oh, it's January. We're going to get all these newbies in here, but don't worry. They're going to be gone in two months, anyway. And they don't know what they're doing." And it's like come on. We were all that new person at one time. Don't be like that. They're probably really freaking uncomfortable.
Go out of your way to maybe make them feel a little more comfortable. Give them a smile. A high five. A handshake. I don't know -- whatever your choice or modality is. Invite them to a class. Then again, a gym is not for everyone, so when you make a commitment to exercise, don't force yourself to do something that you hate, because you're not going to do it. Get real! Going back to the SMART goals, is it SMART? No. Is it specific? Maybe. Is it measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-oriented? All of those things? No.
If you don't want to go to the gym you're not going to do it. Don't pay the membership fee and the initiation fee. Even if it's Planet Fitness for $10 a month, you might not notice that $10 out of your bank account, but you're not going to go, because you're not going to enjoy it. So find something you enjoy.
For me, I love going to hot yoga classes, so I have a hot yoga membership in town and my goal for 2019 is to go to two classes per week. Am I going to hit that every single week? No. Some weeks I might actually go three or four times. Some weeks I might go zero, but make it specific and measurable, achievable and time-oriented -- but something that you enjoy.
Southwick: We had people do sledge hammering for a while. Are they still doing sledge hammer workouts?
Whiteside: We did! Yeah, we called it "hammer time."
Brokamp: Oh, that's so funny!
Whiteside: I didn't automatically see that as a form of exercise, but hi, it's heavy. You're moving it around. It's getting your heart rate up. It's a different form of weight training that I just never thought humanly possible.
Southwick: And it worked for some people here...
Whiteside: It did!
Southwick: ...that probably had never tried something else before.
Whiteside: And those awesome Fools did not ever want to come to a full fitness class, which is totally fine. It's not everyone's cup of tea. They didn't want to go to a gym, but they felt comfortable swinging sledge hammers. They were doing exercises that I do with kettlebells in a kettlebell class. I just didn't know that. But I joined them one day and almost took my shin off and never went back. It's fine.
Would I buy their sledge hammers? The thing is just to find something that you enjoy, stick to it, and create a goal around it.
Southwick: You guys talked about how Groupon is kind of a fun place to mine ideas for activities.
Brokamp: Yes, I was doing this for Christmas shopping -- looking for experiences rather than presents for my family but noticing how many fitness-oriented Groupons there are. And the great thing about that is first of all, it's a significant discount, usually, but it's a way to try something without going all-in. You get the Groupon, whatever you get. You get a month access to something. You go to the trampoline place, or the workout place, or whatever exercise is there. There's dancing. There's Zumba. All kinds of things. It's a cheaper way to just try something and you might end up liking it.
Whiteside: Absolutely. Try something new. I really want to get back into rock climbing. I haven't rock climbed in a long time. We have a rock-climbing group here at the Fool. That's probably going to be the way that I'm going to get back into rock climbing, is because I know that there's friends and there's a social component to it. I know this also works for Bro -- find your clan. Find your group. Find your posse. Find your people. Find your Broskis. Find whomever that is and create some accountability.
Alison Southwick has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Robert Brokamp, CFP has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.