Starting Small is the Key to a Restart in the New Year

New Year’s resolutions are as commonplace as Christmas cookies and holiday parties. After months of holiday indulging and “I’ll start after the New Year,” the top resolutions include eating better, getting fit and getting healthy. When asked how to accomplish these goals, most believe the answer is an all or nothing approach. In other words, they jump to looking for the perfect gym, a specialized fitness studio, buy expensive home fitness equipment with the intent of working out hard every day (with no rest days) or start the next Tik Tok diet. Of course, we’ve all heard the saying, “no pain, no gain”. In the kitchen, the New Year’s “Resolutionist” cuts out all sweets and carbs thinking these foods are the enemy and heads straight to the mindset of “less is more”. These efforts are without a doubt admirable, but short lived. While a positive mindset is the number one indicator of success, an all or nothing approach may set one up for failure – and eventually lead to ditching that well intended New Year’s resolution sooner rather than later.

As a Certified Fitness Professional for over 20 years, I’ve heard the above story countless times. The truth of the matter is getting fit and healthy doesn’t have to be so hard core. The most successful people start with small, measurable and achievable goals or “baby steps”. Getting a “fresh” start in the New Year simply boils down to adding or changing a few behaviors. Over time, utilizing smart and attainable changes will lead to lifelong habits.


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When meeting with a new client, I recommend these simple things:

  1. Just Move—The convenience of cars, public transportation and remote work from home has led many to lead a more sedentary lifestyle. Sitting all day not only leads to physical ailments (like poor posture, back pain and weight gain) but it also affects our mental health. The good news is movement doesn’t need to be anything elaborate.Finding “micro breaks” throughout the day may be easier than we think. Look at how much time many of us waste, scrolling on our phones!  Simply getting up 15 minutes earlier in the day to stretch or go for a quick walk, breaking away from the desk to do a few squats and/or lunges, making it an “active” lunch hour with a co-worker or taking advantage of a local gym can make all the difference!  After work, enjoy a walk or bike ride with a friend, pet or loved one.If you live in the Princeton area and are an outdoor enthusiast or nature lover, try exploring the Sourland Mountains for an afternoon hike, cycling the Delaware Canal Towpath Trail or learning a new sport. Pickleball (a cross between tennis and badminton) is a popular new sport that is social, fun, easy to learn and offered throughout many local recreation centers (in fact, new pickleball courts are part of the upgraded Community Park plans). On the weekends, have a dance party at home with your kids, take them ice skating at Mercer County Park, Ice Land or ProSkate or take a quick ski trip to the amazing Pocono Mountains. Of course, if you want something a little more structured, there are a multitude of fitness options, both in person and online. You can join a “big box gym” like Planet Fitness or seek out a small boutique atmosphere like inMotion Fitness & Wellness. The key is to find the workout or format that you love! When asked what the “best” workout is, my answer is always the one you enjoy and will continue to do. There are plenty of options to help you stay motivated and you don’t need any special equipment. The bottom line is to find something you enjoy and JUST MOVE!!
  1. Eat Well—This may sound cliché, but the phrase, “you are what you eat,” really does ring true. You wouldn’t put subpar gas in a sports car and the same is true for people. Ditch the processed foods and reach for healthier options. Whole foods and food with fewer ingredients will provide you with the best nourishment and help you strengthen your body as well as your immune system. Whole Earth Center can give you options of some more wholesome foods. Also, look into some of our local farmers markets such as in Princeton or West Windsor to take advantage of what’s in season and sourced locally.Join a local Facebook group to share healthy recipes and search out local chefs, like Kenny’s Meals, for food delivery services that can help make preparing healthy and delicious meals a less arduous task. When preparing or planning meals, think less about cutting food out and more about adding food in. The healthiest meals are made up of lean protein, complex carbs and good fats. Eating smaller, well-balanced meals throughout the day will help energize and fuel even the most lethargic, while warding off unwanted pounds. Let the New Year be a fresh start to experimenting with new, and healthier recipes.
  1. Drink Water—Water is nature’s best-hidden secret. Not only is it needed to stay hydrated, but water can help control calories by helping you feel full. Water also helps energize muscles and helps keep your skin looking young and hydrated. Instead of reaching for that sugar-laden, carbonated drink, grab some H2
  2. Get Enough ZZZZs—Making sure you’re getting 7-8 hours of sleep a night is important. A good night’s sleep has many benefits including boosting your immune system, helping to prevent weight gain, strengthening your heart, increasing performance, memory and productivity, and giving you more energy to exercise.
  3. Breathe—Finding your breath, also known as meditation, is a simple way to reduce stress and find your inner peace. Meditation is simple, inexpensive and can be practiced anywhere. The emotional benefits of meditation include managing stressful situations, focusing on the present, reducing negative emotions, increasing imagination, patience and tolerance. Download one the many meditation apps available to guide you or join a local meditation center, like Princeton Healing House for a more formal group meditation. The bottom line is, next time you find yourself in a stressful situation, just breathe.
  4. Laugh—Yup, that’s it. A good laugh can relieve physical tension and help relax the body for up to 45 minutes. So, the next time you feel tense, turn on a funny movie, surround yourself with funny friends and/or play with a pet.

Getting a fresh start in the New Year is easier than you think. A few small and smart changes to what we are already doing can lead to good habits that will help us feel and look better all year long. And there’s never been a better time to start than NOW!