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How to build healthy (and achievable) habits this New Year

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By Shayna Sappington
12th Jan 2023
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How to build healthy (and achievable) habits this New Year

We ask personal trainer and nutritional coach Nathalie Lennon how we can form healthy habits, and actually stick to them...

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

“The main reason why people fall off track in the New Year with their wellbeing goals is because they were not sustainable or enjoyable. My number one tip would be to really analyse the goals you are setting and ask how sustainable they are long term.

“Can you maintain this workout schedule? Do you enjoy the workouts? Are you feeling energised? Could you eat these foods long term? Is there room for letting your hair down? Don’t overdo it and set too many intentions, and remember that failure is often part of the process. Don’t let failure stop you; view it as a time to reassess and start again with different methods.”

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Here are her five simple tips for building healthy habits.

1. Try to get daily daylight, even if that is for just a quick 10 to 15-minute walk. This not only helps you to get moving but will improve your mood, energy and sleep by ensuring you get some natural daylight.

2. Drink a glass of water first thing in the morning before anything else. It is important to hydrate throughout the day regularly but particularly in the morning as we always wake up dehydrated after a night’s sleep. It is a great habit to get into and you’ll feel far more energised starting the day.

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

4. Try to get protein in at each meal time and with snacks. This will help to balance your blood sugars and curb cravings. Snack examples include Greek yoghurt, dried meats, boiled eggs, protein balls and nuts.

5. Sleep is the key to our overall wellbeing. Try to establish a good relaxing nighttime routine to ensure you are asleep by a certain hour. Aim for eight hours – the more the merrier.

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What are a few of your New Year’s goals?

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

What are your favourite healthy recipes at the moment? 

“My favourite snack would be energy balls. I either make my own or buy some locally. They are a great snack to balance your blood sugars – but watch out as some of these can be high in sugar and very dense in calories. Mine usually are made with peanut butter, chia seeds, protein powder, honey, oats and a little milk.

“I go through phases of loving different meals. My favourite meal at the moment is a standard chicken curry. I like to add wholegrain rice rather than basmati and make sure to add plenty of vegetables. Recipes which use low-fat coconut milk for the sauce base are my favourite.”

healthy habits

What are some simple at-home exercises for beginners?

“Instagram and YouTube are flooded with home workouts – just be sure to have a look through them first to ensure the exercises are suitable for your level. I have some follow-along 25 to 40-minute classes in my Instagram video section which I taught live during the pandemic.

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

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

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

About Nathalie Lennon

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

As a personal trainer and qualified nutritional coach, she works to help others develop a positive relationship with fitness and food whilst still living their life to the fullest. She aims to showcase and help others find balance between extremes, enjoying all that life has to offer, whilst keeping on top of their physical and mental health.

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