How to build healthy (and achievable) habits in the new year

We ask personal trainer and nutrition coach Natalie Lennon how we can form healthy habits, and actually stick to them…

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As we enter the new year, the endless posts on social media of resolutions, diets, and fitness programs can be overwhelming, but there’s no need to overcomplicate things, says health and fitness expert Natalie Lennon. Go back to basics and keep it simple.

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“The main reason people get off track in the new year with their wellbeing goals is because they weren’t sustainable or fun. My number one piece of advice is to really analyze the goals you set and ask how sustainable they are in the long run.

Can you maintain that workout schedule? Do you enjoy the workouts? Do you feel energized? Can you eat these foods for the long haul? Is there room to let your hair down? The process. Don’t let failure stop you. See it as a time to re-evaluate and start over with different approaches.”

Here are five simple tips for building healthy habits.

1. Try to get daylight dailyEven if it’s only a 10-15 minute walk. This not only helps you get moving but will also improve your mood, energy and sleep by ensuring that you get some natural daylight.

2. Drink a glass of water first thing in the morning before anything else. It is important to moisturize throughout the day regularly but especially in the morning because we always wake up dehydrated after a night’s sleep. It is a great habit to practice and you will feel more energetic starting today.

3. Eat the rainbow. Whenever possible, add a side of vegetables, or as I like to call it, color it up. The more variety you can get here, the better! Don’t stick to the same bowl of broccoli, replace it with vegetables like eggplant, kale, asparagus, and red bell pepper.

4. Try to get protein at every meal And with snacks. This will help balance your blood sugar and reduce food cravings. Examples of snacks include Greek yogurt, dried meats, hard-boiled eggs, protein balls, and nuts.

5. Sleep is key to our overall wellness. Try to establish a good nighttime relaxation routine to ensure that you sleep a certain hour. Aim for eight hours – the more hours, the better.

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What are some goals for the new year?

“Last year I set a goal of trying a handstand and I’m still working on it. It’s a slow process but as they say, slow and steady wins the race! I like this goal because it’s not in any way about body image, or putting too much pressure on my joints. Second, to meditate more. This is something I really struggle with but even five minutes or three days a week is better than nothing. I use guided meditations in the Calm app.”

What are your favorite healthy recipes right now?

“My favorite snack are energy balls. I either make my own or buy some locally. They’re a great snack for balancing blood sugars – but watch out some can be high in sugar and high in calories. Mine are usually made with peanut butter Peanuts, chia seeds, protein powder, honey, oatmeal and a little milk.

“I go through phases of loving different meals. My favorite meal at the moment is the standard chicken curry. I like to add whole grain rice instead of basmati and make sure to add lots of veggies. Recipes that use low-fat coconut milk for the sauce base are my favorite.”

healthy habits

What are some simple home exercises for beginners?

Instagram and YouTube are flooded with home workouts — just make sure you take a look at them first To make sure the exercises are appropriate for your level. I have some 25-40 minute follow up classes on my Instagram video section that I taught live during the pandemic.

“For starters, the most important thing to focus on is your form. Exercises like squats, lunges and push-ups are great and can be scaled down to any level. It might be worth getting a trainer for just a few sessions if these exercises are completely new to you to make sure you are doing them correctly. The last thing you want is an injury.”

What kind of impact can these few beneficial changes have on not only our physical health, but our mental health as well?

“When we exercise, it releases ‘feel-good’ endorphins. It’s scientifically impossible not to feel better after some movement. Exercise relieves stress, can improve our energy and alertness, help us sleep better and improve our mood. There’s also a sense of self-esteem.” When we finish a workout or class that helps us build more self-confidence—anything outside of our comfort zone will help do that. I like to say, ‘I feel good, I look good,’ not the other way around.”

About Natalie Lennon

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Nathalie is an inspiring health and fitness enthusiast who is passionate about spreading a real message based on positive body image, a healthy sustainable lifestyle, and establishing optimal mental wellness and building confidence.

As a qualified personal trainer and nutrition coach, she works to help others develop a positive relationship with fitness and food while still living their lives to the fullest. It aims to showcase and help others find a balance between extremes, enjoying all that life has to offer, while maintaining their physical and mental health.

She is eager to help others push the boundaries of their comfort zone by continuing to share her journey as she pushes on her own through training, travel and goal setting.

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