A New Year always brings with it new hope for what’s to come, as evidenced by the very concept of the “New Year’s resolutions” that many of us will begin on the New Year’s Eve and break by MLK Day! Then there are the “new year, new start” challenges like Veganuary (going vegan for the first month of the year) and Dry January (cutting out alcohol for the month) which seem to be all the rage.
Every new year brings its fair share of health trends, though not all of them are, in fact, healthy. So-in anticipation of 2023, I want to explore a few health and wellness practices that I think deserve to become big hits in the year to come.
1. Embrace “Exercise snacks”
Most exercise experts recommend working out between 90-150 minutes a week. But that can be hard to do, especially if you’re very busy and not used to working out. But as the old saying goes, a little bit goes a long way. In 2023, so try to add what is called “exercise snacks” to your daily routine.
An ‘exercise snack’ is 15 minutes of exercise twice a day during the weekday. So, for example, if you have a desk job and get an hour for lunch. You can take the last 15 minutes of your lunch break to do moderate-intensity exercise, and then do the same thing again at the end of the workday.” Doing 15 minutes of exercise twice a day for five days a week adds up to … you guessed it — that recommended 150 total minutes of weekly exercise.
But what is “moderate-intensity exercise,” you ask? The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines it as any physical activity that raises your heart rate and makes you sweat. That could mean going for a brisk walk, riding your bike, getting in a quick cardio circuit or even pushing a lawn mower. Regular and consistent movement has countless benefits for your health, including lowering your risk of heart disease, stroke, Type 2 diabetes and more and can make a big impact on your overall health!
2. Focus on lifestyle and health, not rules and scales
Many of us will look to get healthier by losing weight in the new year- but it can often be overwhelming to adopt a new diet or look at ways to be healthier. If your eating habits aren’t perfect, you might get discouraged, or you might be so focused on a particular eating style, like going plant-based or keto, that any deviations from it make you feel like a failure.
In the new year, dietitian Devon Peart, MHSc, BASc, RD, encourages us to place less emphasis on labeling ourselves as a certain type of eater. “When you aren’t flexible in your eating style, it can lead to shame or feeling like you’re not good enough,” she says, “like, ‘I didn’t do it well,’ or ‘I couldn’t stick to it.’” So if you identify as a vegetarian, for example, it’s OK to eat fish once in a while. And even if you’re trying to follow the keto diet, don’t worry if you occasionally consume something high-carb.
This more flexible approach is also a part of focusing on overall health rather than reaching a specific weight — which is a good thing. As you’re setting goals in the new year, try to be realistic in your approach. Instead of aiming for a specific number on the scale, vow to add more vegetables to your diet, to eat fewer desserts or to start walking 10 minutes a day. Make your goals manageable and achievable — and, above all, be kind to yourself if you slip up… because “Progress is better than perfection!”
3. When it comes to self-care, embrace “Sprinkles of Joy”
Theoretically, most of us agree that self-care is important, but sometimes, the concept feels less like wellness and more like work. Psychologist Grace Tworek, PsyD, thinks that as self-care has become a cultural buzzword, it’s also become more intimidating.
“Sometimes, we build these things up to be really big concepts,” Dr. Tworek says. “We start to feel like getting to the place where we’re happy and satisfied in life is almost impossible — like we don’t have the tools we need to climb the mountain that is happiness.” But happiness isn’t a destination, and self-care shouldn’t be a chore. While prioritizing yourself is an admirable goal for 2023, Dr. Tworek urges you to think about happiness and self-care in a more manageable way — an approach she calls “sprinkles of joy.”
When we only anticipate big opportunities for self-care, like a big vacation, a day off work or some other planned event, we make self-care into a time-consuming activity that requires energy and focus which misses the point
instead, Dr. Tworek encourages us to start breaking down the concept of happiness into smaller, bite-sized pieces … like, sprinkles!! Just as we put sprinkles on cupcakes and cakes — things we eat when we’re celebrating — so, too, we can celebrate everyday moments of joy sprinkled throughout our life. “We think we have to do these big things to bring ourselves joy or a sense of relief, but there’s no reason that we can’t celebrate ourselves and the little accomplishments we make every day,” Dr. Tworek encourages.