It used to be a little cliched to set a health and fitness new year’s resolution to kick off the new year with a wellness-focus, only to give up a few weeks or a month into the year. Well, here’s the thing: if you resolve to change your lifestyle in one way or another, then making the change stick once the novelty wears off is never going to be easy. But with a heavy dose of willpower and focus, it is possible to make a significant change to your life and in particular, your health and fitness levels, by making one or more of these life changes as your new year’s resolution (or resolutions) for this coming year.
1. Set Clear, Specific Fitness Goals
Regardless of what type of running or other fitness goals you set, make sure that your goals are specific and can be measured, so you have benchmarks and milestones that you can work towards and hold yourself accountable to. Some of our favorite examples of specific goals are:
- Book a race or challenge to tackle in the coming year – this sets a specific date when you will take it on, and therefore a specific date to work towards with your training plans.
- Set a strength or speed target – deadlifting a certain amount for X reps, doing a certain number of pull-ups, running your fastest 5k or up your local hill in the fastest time you’ve ever done (using Strava segments is a great way to track your segment-specific performance!).
Once you’ve set your goal, think about what you need to do in terms of training and lifestyle changes to work towards it. I wrote a post setting out my top 20 hacks for improving trail running performance you may find helpful to help with this part.
Consider investing in a GPS watch with multi-sport functionality and a wrist heart rate monitor to help track your progress. The Coros Apex is slimline enough to wear as an everyday watch, so it can be used to track your daily steps, calories and heart rate as well as being a multisport watch that is great for everything from trail running to at-home fitness workouts. Having a wrist-mounted heart rate monitor is a game-changer compared to either not having any heart-rate monitor or one of those uncomfortable chest strap versions.
2. Join a Club or Group – In-Person or Virtual
If you’re the kind of person who may need a little extra motivation to help you get out running when the weather sucks or you’re feeling too tired or busy (and the sofa seems like a much more appealing option) then consider joining a club or group to help motivate you and hold you accountable to your goals and training plan.
If you’ve committed to meeting a group, or just a good friend, for an early morning run, then it’s a lot harder to back out just because you don’t feel like running today or at that time. In fact, unless you have a very good reason, then that’s just a pretty lame and douchey thing to do 😛 – both because it is sabotaging your progress towards your goals, and it’s letting someone else down at the same time.
If you’re not the kind of person who enjoys running or working out with other people, perhaps an online group may be a better option – such as our Trail & Kale Strava club or an Instagram community of like-minded people with similar goals.
Another loyal companion who may love to join you on a run even when the weather is bad is your dog (or a friend’s dog). Our trail dog Kepler has a lot of energy to burn and is a great running companion! Plus, if your dog comes to expect a daily run or brisk walk, then they will definitely be reminding you it’s time to go out.
3. Take Up (or Try) a New Sport
Perhaps it’s time to try something new this year? Something completely different from running, and that may complement your other training? There are a few sports we have been thinking of doing more of, such as ski-touring, climbing and swimming, for example. One year we signed up for a series of kickboxing lessons, which were great fun and taught us some new skills, not to mention kickboxing worked our bodies very differently to the way running does. Another year we took swimming lessons… not because we couldn’t swim, but because neither of us had ever actually learned the ‘proper’ way to swim freestyle / front crawl.
One great advantage of learning a sport that is very different from running is that if you are unable to run for some reason, then you have another way to keep and work on your fitness. We’ve found swimming, for example, to be the perfect way of getting in a cardio workout without weight-bearing, which is very handy when you’re recovering from a running injury such as a sprained ankle or shin splints, or looking for an alternative to just running every day – which ultimately helps you work on your cardio and other areas of fitness while reducing your risk of over-use injuries from too much running.
Having a go-to sport other than simply running can also benefit your mental health. We’ve pretty much all been there when we can’t run due to an injury or some other reason (like simply losing our mojo), and it sucks! You may quickly feel less fit than you’d like as you may be exercising less, and therefore also pretty frustrated that you can’t get out and do what you love. Having balance in all aspects of life is so important, and that includes your sporting and fitness choices, so you’re not completely ‘lost’ when you can’t run. By the way, if you are feeling totally unfit after an extended break from running, why not try a mini running streak, done correctly it will accelerate your fitness level and you’ll be back to normal in no time!
4. Try Out a Plant-Based Diet
It’s pretty well-documented that eating a mostly plant-based diet, focusing on consuming whole foods, balancing nutrients and cutting down on processed food and meats should help improve your overall health. As well as being, in our opinion, one of the best things you can do for your body and long-term health and wellness, following a plant-based diet may also therefore help with your fitness performance in the coming year given you’ll be fueling your body with more natural foods and most probably also losing weight in the process.
Trying out (or should I say, having a taste) of a plant-based diet is a pretty significant and high-impact New Year’s resolution if you’re looking to work towards improving your overall health and fitness. If changing everything you eat and how you eat it in one go seems like too big of a goal, then you’re probably right. I suggest starting small, such as eating plant-based meals for a day a week and planning to increase the number of meals you eat that are plant-based, once you start getting used to the foods and coming up with interesting and enjoyable meals that do not involve meat. Depending on your starting point and inclination to get creative in the kitchen, this may take some time!
Rather than setting out all of our views on a plant-based diet and why we are advocates of eating this way, I suggest watching the following plant-based diet documentaries and forming your own view on whether this is something you’d like to try as your health and fitness New Year’s resolution:
- The Game Changers – featuring, among others, Arnie and focuses on the quest to find the optimal diet for human performance and health. This documentary features, among others, Arnold Schwarzenegger, who in case you hadn’t heard – is pretty much a vegan eater these days. Now, let that thought sink in for a minute and go watch this film! (film currently on Netflix)
- In Defense of Food – documents the author’s journey to answer the question, ‘what should I eat to be healthy?’, how we can start making thoughtful food choices that will enrich our lives, enlarge our sense of what it means to be healthy, and bring pleasure back to eating. (available on Amazon Prime Video)
- Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret – explores the impact of animal agriculture on the environment, and investigates the policies of environmental organizations on this issue. This film counts Leonardo Di Caprio among its producers, who is a well-known actor and environmentalist (film currently on Netflix)
- Forks Over Knives – This fascinating documentary examines the profound claim that most; if not all; of the so-called “diseases of affluence” that afflict us can be controlled; or even reversed; by rejecting our present menu of animal-based and processed foods. (available on Amazon Prime Video)
5. Supplement Meals with a Green Juice Shake
It’s important to ensure that your body is getting enough of the right nutrients every day. Sometimes, with the best will in the world, other aspects of life get in the way and things get… out of balance. One easy way to ensure you’re getting enough of the right nutrients is by drinking a daily Green Juice shake. While this shouldn’t be seen as a substitute for eating well and regularly, we think this is a great New Year’s resolution when it comes to your overall health and fitness because it’s an easy win and should make a lot of difference to your body – even if you can’t see it, you may just FEEL better. The superfood green juice powder we love is Organifi’s aptly named Green Juice. Our exclusive Organifi coupon code ‘TK15′ will get you 15% OFF your total order when purchased via the link below.
RELATED: Organifi Green Juice Review
As well as simply having Green Juice as a shake, it’s also a great addition to a smoothie with other ingredients such as water, ice cubes, nuts and fruit. We chuck all of these into our Nutribullet blender to make a quick smoothie.
6. Stay Hydrated – and Reduce Plastic Waste
Another really easy and high-impact health and fitness New Year’s resolution is to splash out (pardon the pun) on a reusable water bottle. There’s no reason to buy plastic water bottles if you’re in a country with access to clean, fresh drinking water where a reusable water bottle can be filled up at drinking fountains and restaurants, home or your place of work. Why is this important?
From a health and fitness perspective, drinking more fresh water is a very obvious, if often-overlooked, way to help you stay healthy. A significant portion of our body is made up of water, and it’s vital for the processes of some of our key bodily functions, as well as helping to flush out toxins. If you have a nice bottle that doesn’t leak and allows you to carry around clean, fresh water, then there is no excuse not to drink more as you have access to water all the time.
The LARQ water bottle neutralizes bacteria using UV-C Light. This tech also prevents your bottle from ever getting stinky, all automatically. Learn more about LARQ’s two water purification bottles in our reviews:
One note on reusable water bottles and air-travel: Helen currently does a significant amount of air travel and this is not a problem with a reusable water bottle, she just makes sure it’s empty before putting her hand-luggage through the x-ray at security, and fills it up once through security. There is not an airport in the US that she has been to where she couldn’t fill her bottle up – most airports have bottle filling stations and water fountains near the restrooms, even if they’re sometimes hard to spot. Failing that, any restaurant or cafe should fill it up if you ask nicely.
7. Drink Less Alcohol (and Sweet, Sugary Drinks)
Well, I wish this one was easier, but if you’re partial to an alcoholic drink and / or non-alcoholic drinks other than water, then this is another good health and fitness New Year’s resolution – drink less alcohol (or sweet drinks)! It seems a lot of people resolve to ‘give up’ drinking for a given period of time, and then get back on to it as soon as that time period has elapsed, assuming they stuck it out. While this is a good test of willpower, it isn’t necessarily the path to a sustainably healthier lifestyle, if that is indeed what you are aiming for.
We therefore believe less is more… don’t necessarily go cold turkey but consider limiting drinks to a certain number a week, or saving the drink for one day a week or month, so it’s not a complete no-no and you can look forward to the treat when the time comes. We love going out for social drinks so this one is a bit of a challenge for us. Oh, and red wine is one of the more healthy choices!
8. Minimize Your Stuff – Clear the Clutter
This is worth a post in its own right – I can’t emphasize what a difference minimizing our ‘stuff’ has made to our lives. If you’re after another big New Year’s resolution for improving your overall health (although perhaps not so much your fitness) then cutting down on the volume and number of your personal belongings is one of the best ways to do so.
Why, you may ask, is this a New Year’s resolution that benefits your health? Well, I’m talking about mental health again. If you have less ‘stuff’, there is less to track, less to worry about, less to lose (or lose other things amongst), and less space taken up by it. It’s easier to find what you need, and you simply gain better control over your life in knowing what you have, why you have it (you either use it or you love it) and where it is. When so much of our life is not necessarily within our own control, it really makes a difference to be able to control and manage what you can, in a healthy manner.
On a more specific and practical note, we were driven to minimize on our belongings a few years ago as we were looking to move abroad and ship everything we owned halfway around the world. When you ship belongings via cargo ship, a large component of the cost is based on the volume your ‘stuff’ takes up – so we didn’t want to pay to ship things we didn’t need or love. Plus, we didn’t know where we would be living – and it’s a good thing we cut down on our belongings as we ended up going from a 2000sqft place with a garage and garden to a 900sqft place with no outside space!
Let us know in the comment below which routines you plan to put in place to make this year your best one yet!