Happy 2013, it’s hard to believe another year has passed! New Year’s is typically a time for new beginnings and for many people New Year’s Resolutions. How many years have you vowed on January 1st to start eating healthier, lose weight, or hit the gym more? And how often have you broken those resolutions within a few days or weeks? Good news! Eating healthier or exercising more doesn’t have to only start at the beginning of a new year, but instead any day of the year...as long as you start small!
When setting goals, start with small changes; small changes add up to big results!
- Don’t set unrealistic expectations. You are only setting yourself up for failure.
- Focus on adding positive behaviors instead of restricting or eliminating bad ones. For example, instead of saying "I will stop eating junk food for snack," set a goal of "I will have a well-balanced, nutritious afternoon snack at least 5 days per week."
- Set SMAART goals that are: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Action-Oriented, Realistic, and Timely. An example of a general goal is: "I will lose weight this year." A SMAART goal is: "I will lose 10 pounds by June 30, 2013." See the difference? The SMAART goal provides much more structure and a specific timeline. By setting short-term goals, you can achieve one and then move on to the next.
- Take things at your own pace. Getting healthier is not a sprint, but a marathon and a lifestyle change. Focus on 1-2 things at a time. Once you have mastered those 1-2 behaviors and feel comfortable with the changes you have made, then move on to 1-2 new things to focus on.
- Write it down. Physically writing goals make them more tangible. Sharing them with friends and family can allow them to help encourage and support you along the way. Write your goals on sticky notes and put them on your bathroom mirror, refrigerator, computer monitor, etc. and/or set daily reminders on your phone or computer to alert you of your goal and what you need to do to achieve that goal.
Never give up! If you find yourself falling off the wagon, don’t give up and wait until next New Year’s Day, start back that day! It’s never too late to get back on track and work towards your health goals.
What tips do you have for being successful at acheiving your goals?
New Year’s Tradition
A common tradition in the Southern US is to eat black-eyed peas and greens on New Year’s Day. Growing up I can remember choking down 1 black-eyed pea and 1 piece of collards every New Year’s Day because my parents said it would bring me good luck and health throughout the upcoming year.
According to Southern folklore, eating black-eyed peas and greens bring luck and prosperity. The peas symbolize coins and greens paper money. Some people also believe cornbread represents gold and stewed tomatoes eaten with black-eyed peas symbolize health and wealth so they may also be eaten at New Year’s. A common phrase is, "Peas for pennies, greens for dollars, and cornbread for gold (1)." To read more about the history of this tradition and popular ways to prepare black-eyed peas, click here.
In case you missed out on this tradition on January 1st, here’s a recipe to help you enjoy peas and greens throughout the year. Fingers crossed they’ll bring you good luck, health, wealth and prosperity!
New Year’s Black-Eyed Peas & Greens
Original Recipe from EatingWell, Jan/Feb 2009
Makes 6 Servings
1 pound boneless pork chops, cut into ½ inch pieces
1 tsp salt, divided
½ tsp ground black pepper
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 medium to large onion, chopped
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1 cup instant brown rice
4 cloves garlic, minced
14 ounces reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 Tbsp cider or sherry vinegar
1 tsp smoked paprika, to taste
8 cups roughly chopped greens (can use spinach, kale, collards, etc), tough stems removed
15-ounce can black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained well
*For more flavor, try adding cumin or chili powder and/or more paprika, to taste.
1. Toss pork with ½ tsp salt and pepper. Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add pork and cook until just cooked through, 4-6 minutes. Transfer to a bowl or plate with a slotted spoon, leaving cooking liquids in pan.
2. Add onion, tomato paste, and rice to pan and cook until onion softens, about 4 minutes.
3. Add greens (I used spinach, but any green will work fine) and garlic. Cook until greens begin to wilt, 1-2 minutes. Greens will greatly reduce in size once they begin to wilt, don’t be afraid to pile them on!
4. Stir in broth, vinegar, paprika, remaining ½ tsp salt and any other spices, to taste.
5. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer until rice is done, 15-20 minutes.
6. Stir in reserved pork and black-eyed peas and cook until heated through.
For a printer-friendly recipe, click here.
1. New Year’s Day Tradition–Black-Eyed Peas and Greens