New Year’s Intentions During the Pandemic

People often make New Year’s resolutions on January1. But far too often we give up our resolutions by February. New Year’s resolutions can be especially daunting with all the additional barriers that arise during a pandemic. The good news is that even during a pandemic, there are many ways we can create achievable goals for a healthier lifestyle. We can start by setting intentions instead of resolutions. An intention provides us with a plan and a purpose for making a positive change in our life.

The first key to a long-lasting intention is setting a specific goal that you can control. We have power over behavioural changes such as “walking 10 minutes a day.” However, we have no control over the outcomes of behavioural changes. “Weight loss” is a vague outcome people often fixate on but cannot directly manage. Focus on making specific behavioural changes rather than focusing on outcomes. Having a timeframe for your goal is another key to achieving your intention. For example, “for the next two weeks, I will walk for 15 minutes on Mondays and Fridays”. Identifying timeframes will make you more confident because it will show that you are able to make changes. Clearly specifying what, when, where, how and how long it will take enhances your chances of success. Remember, setbacks are normal. If your New Year’s resolution did not go as planned, give it another shot. Regularly assess your goal to identify drawbacks and adapt the goal to prevent future setbacks. Have you set a New Year’s intention yet? It’s never too late! Here are some ideas that you can personalize to maintain a healthy lifestyle while staying safe.

Treat take-out like a night out. With numerous take-out options at our fingertips, it’s easier than ever to order in. Schedule your take-out nights, and turn them into special occasions that you can look forward to. If you order take-out on a regular basis, here are a few tricks to help balance your meals. Make baked, grilled, broiled or poached foods your first choice rather than fried foods. Ask for sauces and dressings “on the side” so you can control how much you use. Skip super-sized meals that include a large soft drink. Drink water or milk from home instead. Your heart and wallet will thank you for it. If you order a large meal, set aside some leftovers before you start eating. This can help regulate your portion sizes and provide you with a lunch for the next day. Most restaurants now offer whole grain options. Try a whole grain crust on your next pizza night. Lastly, try to choose options that include at least one serving of fruit or vegetables.

For individuals working from home, staying out of the kitchen can be challenging. Avoid grazing by sticking to your meal schedule. Set reminders on your phone to schedule your breakfast, lunch and snacks. Preparing meals in advance is another way you can limit the time you spend snacking in the kitchen. These tricks can also ease your transition back to the office.

Pour your sweet or salty snacks into a bowl, and put the rest away for another day. We need to be mindful of how much we eat during working hours or when we enjoy a late-night snack. Measuring out smaller snack portions can keep us from polishing off the whole bag before we make our next trip to the grocery store.

Staying hydrated throughout the winter months is vital. It’s easy to forget to drink water when we are less active and stuck indoors. Try carrying a water bottle with you as a reminder to drink water. You can even mark your bottle to keep track of how much you drink throughout the day.

Lastly, staying active is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle. Also, social distancing and the cold weather have made it more challenging to find fun activities. Luckily, there are still ways to stay active, even if you are confined to a small space. Weather permitting, try to go outside as often as possible. Walks around the block are a great way to get moving and get some fresh air. You can even try a new sport like cross-country skiing, skating or snowshoeing. When the weather becomes unbearable, try a free exercise video on YouTube that works for you. You can even schedule a physical activity via video chat with family or friends. This is a great way to get moving and keep each other accountable.

Regardless of the goal you choose, such as one of those listed above or one you create, make it a specific, maintainable, and realistic goal that meets your needs. Remember, you don’t need to wait until January 1 to make a positive change to start enhancing your overall well-being and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.