12 for 2020 - New Years Resolutions for the whole year!

Our usual default for New Years resolutions is to make 1 or 2 that tend to be something along the lines of “lose weight, get fit, get healthy.’ I like the idea of the ‘get fit, get healthy’ part of that. There are definitely things that we can do to ‘get fit’, which can lead into ‘get healthy,’ if that’s what we want.

The ‘lose weight’ resolution, well, that rarely leads into ‘get healthy,’ despite what you have been lead to believe. Losing weight and getting healthy do not necessarily go hand in hand. In fact, becoming focused on dieting and food restriction to lose weight can lead to a disordered relationship with food and body image, which in turn can mess with your overall health and well-being.

What with it being 2020, I suppose I could suggest 20 resolutions, but let’s keep it a bit more realistic and go for 12. I’ll cover a different resolution each month with reasons why it’s a good option for boosting health and well-being, and simple hacks to make it achievable. There is no point in making resolutions, or any goals for that matter, if they are too difficult to achieve. If it is unattainable you are more likely to give up or hurt yourself trying... and I did say that this was about boosting health, not reducing it.

I’m not sure what order I will be covering each resolution, so you'll just have to wait and see. Hopefully you will find 1 or 2 (or even all 12) that fit into your year.

Nicole's 12 resolution suggestions:

📚 Read more books

🍝 Make more home cooked meals

😤 Breath deeply or meditate

👫👬👭 Call or spend time with friends more often

💃 Practice joyful movement

📱 Set boundaries with social media

🛌 Take more naps

💧 Drink more water

🌾 Add more fibre to your diet

🌮 Eat more nachos

🎳 Join a club

👗👟 De-clutter your closet – donate clothes to charity

May - Add more fibre to your diet

Smoky Baked Beans

It turns out that most NZ adults are consuming less that the recommended daily intake of dietary fibre, about half the recommended amount. You might be wondering why that might be a problem. Well, the big thing is that there are all sorts of health benefits associated with dietary fibre, from its effect on heart health to type-2 diabetes to cancer. These associations have been shown that as fibre intake increases chronic disease risk decreases.

There are two different forms of fibre, and they both play important roles in our gut health. One is soluble fibre, which forms a gel, absorbing fluid and making the bowel contents softer. It helps to lower blood cholesterol and improve blood glucose control. The other form is insoluble fibre, which acts as a ‘bulking agent’ to help keep us regular.

Fibre is found naturally in plant products – fruits, vegetables, legumes and wholegrains. When increasing your fibre intake to reach the recommended amount (30g/day for men; 25g/day for women), it is a good idea to do it gradually, to minimise potential side effects such as wind and bloating.

Check out this recipe that is packed full of fabulous fibre from cannellini beans and onion. Rich and tasty to satisfy your tastebuds, and packed with slow release energy to keep you going! Great as a breakfast or brunch option, but also perfect for a simple dinner.

April - Call family and friends more often

April - Call family and friends more often

This intention originally included “spend time with...” though in light of COVID-19 and the importance of social distancing I have taken that part out. But it is still very important to stay connected with family and friends at this time.

Usually the only time that we seem to simply hang with our loved ones, without everyday life getting in the way, is when we are on holiday. We can totally revel in that quality time spent together. Now that is an everyday occurrence and may be getting a bit much for some people, and that is okay. If you need to, and can, find a quiet space for yourself – do! Alone time to reset and calm is really important during this crazy, mixed up time.

Research shows that social connections are one of the greatest predictors for a long and happy life. We usually hear about diet and exercise, sleep, stress reduction, smoking cessation as being the most important factors for longevity... and while they are all very important... most important of all is connecting with other people.

So please make an effort to connect more with those you love. Especially those that are outside of your bubble who are alone. It will actually be better for both you and them in the long run.

Thankfully we live in the digital age where we can still connect face-to-face through a variety of apps. However, don’t forget about those who are technophobes, for whatever reason – too old to learn new tricks, security conscious, don’t have the hardware. Just pick up the phone and call. Originally I was even going to suggest good old snail mail. I know I always get a little thrill if I find something in the letterbox that isn’t a bill. I have a friend who religiously sends me a Christmas card and I love it! Do I return the favour? Not as often as I should. However, with COVID-19 and even though the post is still running, it might just be better to wait and use the snail mail option in safer times.

Take care and stay safe.

March - Practice joyful movement

Practice joyful movement

Movement should be fun and enjoyable! Moving your body shouldn’t be about getting ripped, or feeling the burn, or smashing it out. That all sounds dreadfully painful and not something that you’d want to engage in on a regular basis. And when it comes to moving our bodies it really is more beneficial if we can manage to do something on a regular basis – MOH guidelines is 2.5 hours of moderate movement per week.

Two and a half hours per week?! You are likely wondering when you are supposed to fit that in to your already busy week.

Well, you may have noticed that I haven’t used the word ‘exercise’ but have gone for ‘movement.’ That is because ‘exercise’ is usually thought of as something structured, such as going to the gym, going for a run, playing a sport, going to a yoga class. And these activities usually have a set time. Whereas ‘movement’ incorporates all of those forms of exercise but also takes into account other ways of moving the body that can count towards that 2.5 hours per week. It might be 10 minutes here, 30 minutes there... but it all adds up.

Things such as:

* Walking to work or walking the kids to the bus/school.

* Doing the housework.

* Doing the gardening or mowing the lawns.

* Helping a friend shift house.

* Dancing around the living room after 1 too many wines.

It’s about getting up off your butt and moving about in a fun and joyful way. Not that mowing lawns is something particularly fun but that sense of satisfaction in seeing the yard looking neat and tidy is a type of enjoyment I suppose.

February - Set boundaries with social media

Set boundaries with social media

I picked February for this resolution as I was away on an incredible family holiday to Antarctica of all places. It meant that my access to social media was very intermittent. This impending lack of social media engagement was not entirely by choice, I saw things that I will wanted to share, but I had to wait until I returned to fully connect.

Usually when you hear the talk around setting boundaries with social media it is based on unfollowing those that don’t serve your needs. Those whose messages are negative in some way, maybe they make you feel less worthy because your life doesn’t look like theirs. Definitely unfollow that sh*t! Nobody should ever be made to feel less worthy simply because they don’t do, look, live, whatever it is that those on highly curated social media pages are doing.

Another boundary to think of setting with social media is about what you share, and how often. I get that the algorithms are designed to work better for those that post a lot. And I get that that is important for those with business accounts if you are wanting to increase your audience. However, is the stress and anxiety that comes from trying to think up new posts, and trying to get that #instaworthy picture/message really worth it?

Imagine how peaceful life could be without all that. And think about how much more headspace you will have for doing things that really matter in your life, in the moment. Moving away from sharing stuff just to be like everyone else that shares stuff, or comparing yourself to #influencers, to simply focusing on whatever it is you are doing with whomever you are doing it with.

But if you just can’t give it up or don’t want to... what about following some different folk for a while to get a different perspective on life? You don’t have to engage, but it might be interesting or even entertaining. And if you don’t like it, stop following.

January - Drink more water

Drink more water

Since it is summer in New Zealand in January, I thought that "drink more water" was a good starting point. It is (generally) hotter weather, which means more sweating so an increase intake of water is needed.

It’s common to hear that water is essential for your health. But why?

Well, the body is about 50-70% water and water is involved in many important bodily functions, including:

* flushing out waste from your body

* regulating body temperature

* helping your brain function.

So as you can see maintaining water balance is essential for survival. Without water you’ll only last a couple of days. For this reason, your body has a fancy mechanism for regulating when and how much you need to drink – it’s called your thirst. When your total water content gets below a certain level your thirst kicks in and for most people it is very reliable.

You are constantly losing water from your body, primarily in your pee, poo and sweat. To prevent dehydration (and constipation), you need to drink adequate amounts of water. But what exactly is “adequate amounts?”

Well, as with most things, this depends on you as an individual. Some people need more water than others. For some people, more water only means more trips to the loo my darling.

If you want to keep things simple, then these 3 guidelines will apply to most people:

1. When you’re thirsty, drink.

2. When you’re not thirsty anymore, stop.

3. Increase your water intake if you’re exercising or living in a hotter region.

That’s it!

And remember, other beverages (including tea and coffee) can contribute to fluid balance, and most foods also contain water. So if you don’t have water to hand you can easily find something else to quench your thirst.