Making a New Year’s resolution this year? If it’s to lose those pesky 10 pounds (for the sixth year in a row) why not consider making a new, more doable resolution with equally big health payoffs? Take your pick of these 10 attainable resolutions that you can actually tackle this year.
1. Get more sleep.
What can help you feel more energized during the day, improve your mood and even help you lose weight? Sleep! The body repairs and regenerates during sleep. Even calcium is added to bones while you slumber. Getting adequate sleep is the best way to help your mind and body function at its best.
2. Eat a veggie or fruit with every meal
According to research, Americans eat far fewer vegetables and fruits than they need. These fruits and veggies are packed with vitamins and antioxidants, which your body needs for a strong immune system. Look at your meal. If veggies and fruit are not part of it, add them. It really is much easier than you think, and so important for your health. To squeeze in more healthy additions, slice a banana into your morning cereal or yogurt, have an apple as dessert with your lunch, and start every dinner meal with a salad. The more veggies and fruit you consume, the higher your intake of fiber, which helps fill you up, making you less likely to eat foods that are less healthy.
3. Find a form of exercise that you love
What works for one person doesn’t always work for everyone else, and it can take some trial and error to find a form of exercise that is enjoyable for you. Find a form of exercise or a venue that you enjoy so you will be more consistent. To fall in love with exercise again, make a list of five new forms of physical activity that you haven’t tried—whether it’s yoga, spinning or lap-swimming, and give each a try for two weeks. Then, pick the one that gives you the most joy, or mix up your top two!
4. Make more social dates with friends
It’s true—an active social life can have major payoffs when it comes to your health. Research shows that a healthy social life can help you stick to your healthy habits, fight disease and depression, reduce stress, enhance your sense of purpose in life, promote greater happiness and even live longer. How to be better social butterfly? Say “yes” more! Sure, balance is key—so keep time for yourself, too—but one social event per week (book club, dinner with the girls, a jogging date with your best friend) may go a long way in keeping you healthier—and happier—this year.
5. End the negative self-talk
“You look horrible in those jeans!” “Why couldn’t you have been more confident in that work presentation!” “The house is a mess—clearly you’re losing your grip.” We all berate ourselves from time to time, but too much negative self-talk can create a self-fulfilling prophecy. The more you tell yourself you’re not worthy, the more you feel that way, and you may even act accordingly. If, for example, you believe ‘I tried to lose weight in the past but gained it all back. I am a complete failure,’ then, guess what? You’re not going to be able to keep a healthy weight. Consider how a statement like that makes you feel: helpless, hopeless, worthless, depressed. In order to stop the mean talk, the first step to changing thoughts is being aware when you are engaging in toxic self-talk. Use your feelings as a barometer. Every time you notice yourself feeling bad, ask “What am I saying to myself right now?” Then turn things around with positive thoughts like, “I can learn from the past. I am ready to transform my health. I know I can do this!” The result will be greater empowerment and inspiration to make and sustain positive changes.
6. Stop sweating the small stuff
The latte that the barista at the cafe butchered, the guy who flipped you the bird on your drive to work—see if you can resolve to let the annoying but insignificant stuff go this year. Yep, that means no more crying over spilled milk! Psychological stress, even in small doses, can cause physical stress in our bodies. When we are emotionally overwhelmed, angry or frustrated, our bodies release cortisol, also known as “the stress hormone.” Excessive cortisol can deplete immune functioning, resulting in our bodies having trouble fighting off disease. It can suppress thyroid function, decrease muscle tissue and increase abdominal fat. In fact, it can adversely affect pretty much every organ system in our body, including the digestive system, cardiovascular system, skin and cognitive health. So when something begins to ruffle your feathers, take a deep breath and ask yourself, “Am I really going to let this rude guy on the freeway mess with my health?” The answer, of course, is no!
7. Cook more at home
Do you have the takeout restaurant’s number on speed dial? Are you on a first-name basis with your pizza deliveryman? While relying on restaurant food after long days at work can be convenient, it can have health consequences. The problem with a lot of restaurant food is that the portions can be larger, more caloric, and higher in fat and sodium than a home-cooked meal.Cooking at home can be as easy as dialing takeout. Broil a piece of fish, simply marinated in lemon, olive oil and spices. Then microwave a small baked potato and open a bag of lettuce topped with grape tomatoes. Planning your meals for the week can also ensure that you don’t fall victim to pizza—again.
8. Cut back on sugar
Life without your favorite fudge brownies? Don’t worry, you don’t have to give up your favorite indulgences to make this resolution work. Simply take a look at the added sugar in foods, and try to eat as little of the sweet stuff as possible. Experts say that as a result, your body will thank you. No one says you can’t eat your favorite treats, but if you are overindulging on a regular basis, your waistline is going to expand, plain and simple. Too much sugar is basically too many calories without any nutritional benefit for your body. And chances are, if you’re consuming too much sugar, your diet may be lacking in healthy foods, increasing your chance for disease, decreased energy and poor skin. How to cut back on the sweets? Try preventing cravings before they even start by making sure you’re eating regularly throughout the day. Skipping meals is one sure way to lead yourself to make poor choices. A midday snack of a plain lowfat yogurt with berries can help stop you in your tracks long before you hit the vending machine. Enjoy natural sweets, such as fruits, cinnamon and even a sweet potato regularly in your diet to give your body the sweet taste you’re longing for.