5 Super-Easy Hacks for a Healthier, Happier New Year
The Biggest Loser trainer Jen Widerstrom offers totally doable ways to get your year off to the healthiest start possible.
Late at night when all the world is dreamin', you lay awake... and think of everything you have to do tomorrow and start to silently freak out while your husband snores next to you. Being a mom and a partner, and managing all the demands that come with those roles, can make prioritizing your own health habits difficult. Sure, you already know all of the rules on what you should eat, what you should skip, how often you should work out and all that jazz, but sticking to a routine and staying faithful isn't as easy. (What is easy? Hoovering up your toddler's leftover mac n' cheese—because food waste is bad, right?—and collapsing on the couch after the kids are in bed to binge-watch Stranger Things.)
Still, you've promised yourself this year will be different, and now you need a magic plan to help you maintain your stamina, energy, and happiness without adding another bullet-point to your to-do list. Enter: these five smart tips to jump-start 2017, straight from Jen Widerstrom, trainer on NBC's The Biggest Loser, Global Women's Ambassador for Reebox, and author of Diet Right For Your Personality Type.
1. Set micro goals.
Regardless of what's motivating you to reconsider your life choices and work toward a change—whether it's the New Year or a big birthday birthday, or something else entirely—Widerstrom offers a word of advice: start small. "Achieving small goals will ultimately lead you to achieving the larger ones," she explains. "Remember: Moments make minutes, and minutes make your life. Start small and build your life starting today." Why does this philosophy and approach work? As you make manageable goals—like packing your lunch, getting one more hour of sleep, or trying one new healthy recipe each week—and achieve them, you build your self-esteem gradually, giving you more confidence to attack larger goals, like, say, paying down credit card debt or saving for a bucket-list family vacation.
2. Prep for the afternoon slump.
You know the drill: your three cups of coffee (and maybe a shot of espresso) powered you through your get-everyone-dressed-and-out-the-door routine, your two morning meetings, and that power-hour lunch where you answered emails. But at 3 p.m., you hit a wall. Ever wonder why this happens? "Moms are constantly on the go, primarily in the mornings, which may cause them to crash in the afternoon," Widerstrom says. "The crash can happen for different reasons depending on the person. It could happen due to eating a carb-heavy lunch, from sitting still at your desk for hours or as a result of dehydration and not getting enough sleep at night." As you sense your impending slump, Widerstrom recommends taking action—fast (and that doesn't mean jogging to the kitchen for yet another cup of joe). From going for a walk and doing a set of jumping jacks to drinking more water or grabbing a healthy snack like almonds, you can prevent your burnout before it happens.
3. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!
You read every juice label three times before giving anything to your kiddo, but when it comes to what you're guzzling down—from boxed wine to soda—you probably don't consider the effects that come from what you pour in your glass. That's why Widerstrom says to reach for water as often and as much as you can. In addition to keeping you hydrated, it can help curb your cravings. "Your body can trick you into thinking you're hungry, when in fact you are dehydrated," she explains. "Your brain cannot decipher the difference so by simply being hydrated you can stave off cravings. That's why water can often satisfy a craving for food."
One good rule of thumb that doesn't take up too much of your energy is to gulp down those recommended 8 ounces in between meals. "Drinking water in between meals throughout the day helps to keep you full and drinking water before a meal helps to curb hunger, which ultimately helps you eat less," Widerstrom says. "You'll be shocked by your ability to manage your hunger and food volume because of this... Just try the system of drinking water before a meal and you'll see."
4. Start a smoothie habit.
Take a stroll through your Instagram and you'll see all of your fit-inspiration pals posting their latest smoothie discovery, packed with nutrients and no-filter-needed colors. But what's even better for you? Smoothies take little time and give you lots of healthy rewards. "Smoothies are quick and easy to make, and are a great way to help get your daily allowance of fruit and vegetables for the day. They're good for resetting your body, adding energy, and reducing cravings," Widerstrom says. One of her favorites: a "Green Detox" smoothie made with almond milk, spinach, beets, and cucumber. Just make sure you keep it healthy and don't go overboard on added sweetners!
5. Make random acts of kindness a priority.
We're guessing that raising kind kids is a priority for you—so help make that happen by modeling the behavior for them! As Widerstrom explains, practicing random acts of kindness can boost your mood, lower your blood pressure, and overall just make you happier. "Being nice to others doesn't just benefit them, it works in our favor too by instantly boosting our mood, plus it just feels better. Giving is our greatest gift," she says. "Saying 'hi' or complimenting a stranger, allowing someone cut in front of you in line that you see is in a rush. All small gestures that can really turn someone's day around." Including yours!