Tips for our resolutions

Many of you are still making health resolutions at the start of the year. However, for many, good intentions are quickly replaced by a return to old habits. What if this year we rethink the way to start the year? Interview with Julie Blanchette, doctor in microbiology/immunology and coach in healthy lifestyles.

You have made promoting healthy lifestyles your profession, can you tell me about the obstacles to adopting good habits?

If you ask people, lack of time and low energy are the two biggest obstacles to adopting healthy lifestyle habits.

How to save time? This is the big question! There are different strategies to maximize our time. That being said, how we spend our time is a determining factor. Quebecers watch an average of 28 hours of television a week and spend almost 2 hours a day on social media. There’s definitely room for some exercise or cooking a healthy meal, isn’t there?

In my opinion, we need to stop feeling guilty and try to understand why people don’t succeed. Much of the answer lies in the stress and anxiety that people experience on a daily basis.

A recent study reports that half of the Quebec population says they are anxious. When you feel stressed or anxious, the energy breakdown is felt quickly. Therefore, the brain needs to look for a quick reinforcement that allows the pressure to be evacuated. This energy deficit becomes an obstacle to the adoption of healthy habits.

Bad habits give us a short-term boost, temporarily relieving our anxiety. Indeed, the consumption of fatty or sugary foods, the consumption of alcohol or drugs, a sedentary lifestyle, the tranquility through social networks, trigger the production of dopamine in our brain. This type of compensation is short-lived and does not bring any long-term benefits. For this reason, when stress and anxiety are poorly controlled, there are negative repercussions on our health that prevent us from adopting other healthy habits.

What do you suggest to start the year off right?

A fundamental element to optimize health is to increase the level of intrinsic motivation in our lives. This motivation is associated with an activity whose objective is to obtain personal satisfaction without expecting to obtain an external reward. Human beings are meant to move toward important goals. Overcoming challenges and persevering in achieving goals are ways to increase our overall satisfaction. This is the key to increasing our energy level, an essential resource for adopting healthy lifestyle habits.

With inflation and financial insecurity affecting many Quebecers, how can you adopt good eating habits without breaking the bank?

To be successful in adopting healthy habits without breaking the bank, you need to go back to basics. Less than a third of Quebecers eat enough fruits and vegetables each day. It’s true that fruits and vegetables are often more expensive, but there are ways to swap some ultra-processed foods for inexpensive fruits and vegetables. Successfully eating well on a budget requires a bit more planning, but it is possible. There are a variety of websites that offer low-cost healthy diet strategies and low-cost healthy recipe ideas.

How to move if our budget is tight? Do outdoor activities, like hiking or just walking. Enjoy the green spaces and nature near you. The secret is to move, you don’t need to invest in expensive equipment or subscriptions. To help you keep exercising over time, do activities you enjoy with people you enjoy. Social contact is essential to increase longevity and it is free.

Many give up their resolutions after a few weeks. What is the secret of perseverance?

At the beginning of the year, people tend to set goals that are too big. Start with smaller goals and build habits that last over time. It’s better to get ten minutes of exercise a day and make it a routine part of your routine than to try to hit the gym three times a week and then give up.

Start small and build over time. Gradually integrate healthy habits combined with intrinsic goals, based on your interests and passions. Take time to explore, to try new things. Set yourself new challenges, try to achieve goals that make you smile, that excite you and your motivation increases significantly. Then you will have more energy to integrate good habits. Science has shown that people who are more intrinsically motivated live longer, are healthier, and naturally adopt better lifestyle habits. Make your life worthwhile, you will want to protect it and take care of yourself, that is the strategy for a healthy lifestyle!

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