At the start of a new year, most of us need some serious inspiration to get back on track. The festive season often leaves us feeling a little flat, fat and fluffy, inside and out.
Let me help you kick-start your best year ever and get YOU back on track – 2020 can be THAT year. The one where you make healthy food choices, when you workout regularly, when you crush goals, are organised and productive, feel all the happy vibes and choose to #LiveLife at every opportunity.
I’ll help you design a set of new healthy habits to take your life to the next level. I’m also sharing a recipe for a delicious summer smoothie.
What are Healthy Habits and Why do They Matter?
The best way to shake things up a bit and to detox your body (and in the process your mind and soul too!) is to establish a set of healthy habits and routines you can include as long-term lifestyle changes. To change, you must MAKE changes. This is often the hard part for most people but once you get going, you will reap the rewards and feel amazing.
Habits are routines you repeat without thinking about doing them. You use lots of different habits all day – think about brushing your teeth or driving your car. You’ve done them for such a long time and so regularly, that they happen automatically.
BUT! The longer and more regularly you live with unhealthy habits like staying up too late, smoking, eating poorly, or neglecting regular exercise, the harder it becomes to stop them. The key to making lasting change in your lifestyle is to create new healthy habits and routines, and to replace the “bad” ones with these better ones over time.
By setting realistic and achievable goals and by creating routines that move you forward every day, you begin an upward cycle of self-esteem and a renewed sense of achievement. Your confidence grows as you achieve your goals, which further encourages you to stick to your routines because you know you will get the results you want. As you start achieving your goals consistently, and work on your healthy habits daily, eventually they become part of you. You will do them without thinking as they form a permanent part of your lifestyle.
These are my top 6 healthy habits that will help you start off 2020 with a bang:
1. Look after your gut
Your gut is the foundation of your health. Unfortunately, over the festive season, we often abuse our gut with poor food choices, too much sugar, not enough fiber and lots of alcohol. A damaged digestive tract can lead to all sorts of health problems and has been closely linked to stress, anxiety and depression. Nobody wants to begin 2020 feeling grumpy or sad! Fermented food like kefir, kimchi and kombucha are natural ways of keeping your gut in tip top shape.
2. Eat 3-4 servings of protein a day
Your health is at “steak”. Protein must be included as part of a healthy nutrition plan. It has significant benefits for weight loss because the weight regulating hormone function is improved and hunger is reduced. I eat a whole food plant-based diet and find that vegan protein powders make it very convenient to consume enough protein to sustain my active lifestyle. I add a scoop to my smoothies and cereals – voila! The Trek high protein bars are also now a staple in our pantry.
3. Eat 3-4 servings of green, leafy and colored vegetables a day
These are packed with roughage which aids weight loss and they are packed with vitamins and minerals which your body needs to remain healthy. My favourites are baby marrows, spinach, mushrooms, baby tomatoes, cabbage and coloured peppers.
4. Include small amounts of healthy fats in your diet daily
These are essential to give your body energy and help your body absorb nutrients and produce important hormones. I love adding coconut oil to cooking which is high in medium-chain triglycerides (MCT).
5. Lower your stress levels, reduce anxiety and enhance your mood – be happy!
The start of a new year is often filled with stressful situations with school starting, financial strain and going back to work. Don’t let it get the better of you! Reign in your bedtime routine so you are not stimulated by caffeine or social media or bright lights for at least an hour before getting to bed. This will help you fall into a deep sleep quickly so you wake up refreshed and ready to tackle the next day with enthusiasm. Gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) is a naturally occurring amino acid in the body that works as a neurotransmitter in your brain. When GABA attaches to a protein in your brain known as a GABA receptor, it produces a calming effect. This can help with feelings of anxiety, stress, and fear. It also promotes better sleep. I use it regularly during times of peak training and it works like a bomb!
6. Exercise 4-5 times a week for 20 minutes – get jiggy with it!
Exercise is a natural stress reliever too! It helps you burn calories and will keep your heart healthy. A combination of resistance training and cardio is often the most effective way to get fit and shed some weight too. Be patient and allow yourself some recovery after hard workouts – rest is where magic happens. Including a magnesium supplement once a day will help you sleep like a baby and improves muscle function plus reduces fatigue.
How to Make a Delicious High Protein Summer Smoothie (vegan friendly)
Coconut Flapjack Smoothie
1 Coconut Flapjack Trek bar (broken into bits)
1 scoop vegan protein powder (preferably vanilla)
150g coconut yogurt
1 cup crushed ice
1. Combine the ingredients in a blender.
2. Puree until smooth, about 1 minute. Add cold water or crushed ice to reach the desired consistency.
3. Pour into glasses.
Make 2020 YOUR year – be brave, be fearless, be flawesome, be YOU. And…always remember to #LiveLife!
My name is Christine Prokopiak from #LiveLife (Sole Buddies). I specialise in running coaching for new and experienced runners, balanced nutrition for healthy lifestyles (including weight loss, weight gain, pregnancy, breastfeeding, menopause, plant based and vegan plans) as well as eating for improved sports performance.
I’m one of the co-founders of a registered nonprofit organisation (NPO) in Fisantekraal, outside Durbanville in the Western Cape, called For The Long Run, and we strive to uplift people in this disadvantaged community, using running as a mechanism for lasting change. Gerhard and I are also training for our first full Ironman together in March 2020! Training is in full swing!
Words and images: Christine Prokopiak.