- Ayesha Curry sets new health and fitness goals at the beginning of every year.
- This year, Curry has teamed up with the nutrition and food tracking app MyFitnessPal to share her favorite tips for building lifelong healthy habits.
- For Curry, using MyFitnessPal is about more than tracking. She also turns to other MyFitnessPal members for advice and support while striving to meet her health goals.
Despite being a New York Times bestselling author, entrepreneur, chef, television host and producer, Ayesha Curry still has more to reach for in 2023 — and setting health-related goals is at the top of her list.
“I like a good refresh after all the gluttony of the holidays, so this is usually a time when I like to set small, achievable goals,” Curry told Healthline.
She aims to build more lean muscle this year.
“While I’m feeling great right now, I’d love to work on muscle definition to feel strong in my own skin. So, I’m focusing on adding more protein to my diet and lifting weights,” she said. “Mentally, I want to be kind to myself during this process. I know there will be days where moving my body won’t be what I want to do, but I know that any step forward is a step in the right direction.”
Curry’s approach to body and mind wellness is an effective one, according to Christina Brown, MS, ACSM CPT, nutrition and weight loss coach. She said exercise, nutrition, and self-care all play a major role in health and should all be part of health goals.
“They work in conjunction with each other. If we want to improve our health, but only focus on one of the above then we won’t see as big of an improvement compared to when we focus on all three,” Brown told Healthline.
From a fitness perspective, Curry plans to avoid aggressive workouts.
“I would rather fit in a quick 20-minute Pilates class at home than push for an hour in the gym. It breaks up the monotony of the gym for me and keeps me energized for my next physical effort,” she said.
When it comes to nutrition, she plans to incorporate more plant-based proteins into her diet.
“Coming from a culinary background, I’m really enjoying broadening my horizons and figuring out how to implement ingredients I don’t typically use in some of my favorite recipes,” she said.
Prioritizing self-care is part of her plan, too.
“You can’t pour from an empty cup, so taking any time I can find for my workout, whatever it may be, is my own form of self-care. Prayer and meditation are also part of my mental health routine,” Curry said.
Dr. Rekha B. Kumar, associate professor of clinical medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College and chief medical ofOfficer at Found, said self-care should always be a part of health goals, including those related to weight management.
“Better self-care does lead to healthier weight management because hormones and stress levels are more balanced, so the body won’t be in fight or flight mode, which increases stress hormones, blood sugar, and tendency to gain weight,” Kumar told Healthline.
Although health goals may require attention toward exercise, food, and self-care, Kumar said making small changes slowly over time can have a big impact.
“This is all it takes. Just small bouts of movement —switching a white flour to a whole grain, cutting back from three drinks to two — these all have a huge impact over time,” she said.
Brown added that small, daily changes also keep from feeling overwhelmed.
“If we try to make too many big changes in our daily habits at once, we are much more likely to give up because of the overwhelm and then also feeling like we failed if we were unable to keep up with those big changes,” she said. “Slowly creating small daily habit changes leads to sustainable habit changes.”
If you’re looking for somewhere to start when it comes to diet and exercise, Curry shared the following tips.
As a busy mom of three kids, Curry said she keeps staples in her pantry to turn to, including quality canned tomatoes, low sodium chicken stock, whole grain pasta, and brown rice.
“They’re shelf-stable so they can stick around until you need them, and tend to be my most used ingredients for whatever meal I’m whipping up for the family,” she said.
In her fridge, she stocks citrus and herbs, which she said can “elevate any dish into something special, even if you’re using mostly pantry ingredients,” and turns to her freezer for frozen fruits and vegetables to make smoothies.
To remove the guesswork of what to prepare on chaotic days, Curry said she makes meal prepping a weekly routine.
“On Sundays, I will look at the week’s meals for my family and make a game plan. Taking those extra 20 to 30 minutes to sit down and prepare and plan makes a huge difference when making consciously healthier choices,” she said. “Whether it’s going out and buying groceries or figuring out how to repurpose ingredients already in the kitchen, it’s a great nutrition and cost-saving tool.”
Brown suggested compiling a list of easy-to-make healthy recipes that your family enjoys eating and keeping them in a binder or electronically.
“Once you have 15-plus recipes…you can then create your grocery list for the week. This will not only save you a ton of time but make meal planning a habit that you can sustain because it is something that actually simplifies your life,” she said.
To lighten the burden of cooking all week, Kumar recommended home meal delivery for some meals so you have a few pre-portioned healthy meals on hand, which can help avoid decision fatigue.
“Alternatively, intermittent fasting/time-restricted eating is a good option for those who don’t want to overthink meals and meal planning, but they can limit their calories to a certain window. Intermittent fasting and overall calorie restriction both lead to similar weight loss,” Kumar said.
When it’s hard to get motivated to exercise, Curry said it’s a good idea to remind yourself that you’ll feel better mentally and physically when you do.
“And don’t be afraid to shake it up a bit. Try something new — take a new workout class, download a new playlist. I also find getting outdoors helps to get me motivated,” she said. “Keep in mind the ‘why’ of your health and fitness goals, have grace with yourself on the bad days, and celebrate the small wins that you accomplish to keep up momentum.”
If adding exercise into your weeks is new, Brown suggested starting slow. Rather than scheduling 7 hour-long workouts each week, begin with a goal of completing three 30-minute workouts per week.
“Picking workouts that are fun and enjoyable to you will make it much more likely that you will actually complete the workout,” she said.
If you struggle with beginning your workout, Brown said give yourself permission to stop after 10 minutes.
“Most of the time, you’ll keep going and finish the workout because by the time 10 minutes rolls around you’re experiencing the endorphins from the workouts,” she said.
She also suggested breaking up exercise throughout the day into 3, 10-minute workouts.
“[You’ll] still get the benefits [and] this may help with feeling overwhelmed and believing that you don’t have enough time,” Brown said.
For the past three years, Curry has embarked on a health journey. To help her stay motivated, she uses the MyFitnessPal app.
“Listen, things can get pretty busy. Sometimes I’m really good about meal prep and planning meals, other days it’s total chaos. Having something that keeps track of what I’m eating, when I’m eating it, how much water I’m drinking, how much exercise I’m getting, etc., is one less thing off my plate and a helpful guide to make sure I’m able to keep things on track,” she said.
Brown said tracking tools like MyFitnessPal are a great way to help people reach their goals because they help keep them accountable.
“If you know that you have to input every single thing you eat throughout the day, including that handful of chips you grabbed as you walked through the kitchen, then you are much less likely to grab those chips,” she said.
Tracking tools also help people be more mindful and aware of what they are eating and what type of movement they are getting throughout the day.
“Being aware helps keep our goals at top of mind. [They also] help educate us about how many calories, grams of protein, etc., are in the foods we are eating. This can be an eye-opener for many who don’t think they are eating over their calorie goal, but are actually surpassing their daily calorie goal by hundreds of calories,” Brown said.
While Kumar said research shows that monitoring and measuring lead to lasting results, she pointed out that this strategy might not be best for everyone.
“For some people, monitoring certain parameters might be triggering of past negative experiences with weight loss journeys, and if that is the case, one should not monitor that specific thing whether it’s weight, calories, carbs,” she said.
For Curry, using MyFitnessPal is about more than tracking. She turns to other MyFitnessPal members for advice and support.
“I love being able to look on the forum when I’m curious about new recipes, workout routines, or seeing how others balance a busy life of parenting when trying to prioritize their health and wellness,” said Curry.
To share in the experience with others, she teamed up with MyFitnessPal for its Jumpstart Your Health Challenge, a free two-week program that includes daily tips from experts and celebrities including herself.
“In the New Year, many people go from 0 to 100 with health resolutions, and many end up failing…Saying that you are going to completely change your diet and exercise habits overnight can be a shock to the system, making it hard to commit long-term,” Curry said. “MyFitnessPal is able to provide tips, tricks, and advice from members through blogs and forums to help people make realistic, daily changes for lifelong healthy habits.”
Sign up for the challenge here.