Reach Your New Year’s Resolutions!
If you’re like many, you’ve set out to conquer a few resolutions in 2019! And, like many, you may have chosen one or more of the most common ones: losing weight, eating better, exercising more, making more time for family and friends, and/or quitting smoking. Fortunately, many of us are raring to go as the New Year kicks off… but then get discouraged when we don’t see almost-instant results. So how can you take steps this year to help turn your resolutions into healthy new habits? It helps to clearly define your goals, and also make them measurable. It’s also easier and more effective to work on one at a time.
Are you ready to begin? Follow these tips to help you achieve five of the most common New Year’s resolutions:
Resolution one: losing weight
You may want to lose 15 or 20 pounds, but a vague goal like this can be difficult for your mind to decipher. It’s okay to have the end in sight, but first determine how you will get there by breaking it down into smaller, more doable actions. Resolutions that focus on healthier actions can help you build the momentum that will eventually lead to weight loss. Examples include:
• I will walk 20 minutes after work every other day.
• I will drink water instead of soda during dinner.
• I will take the stairs instead of the elevator at work.
And what about those fad diets? Well, remember: just because a particular celebrity lost weight with a certain regimen doesn’t mean it’s safe, healthy or sustainable. Fad diets may work in the short-term, but if you want to lose weight and keep it off—it’s best to build healthy habits. And when you have questions, you should always consult your doctor or a dietitian.
Resolution two: eating healthier
This common resolution goes hand-in-hand with weight loss, but your mind may have a hard time decoding this message. To make your eating goal a success, just plan specific ways to add healthy foods to your menu. Another key to making this resolution more effective is not to limit yourself, because that’s no fun. Instead, replace not-so-healthy dietary choices with healthier alternatives. Your goals could be:
• I will cook at least one meal per week from a recipe instead of dining out.
• I will snack on fresh fruits and veggies.
• I will drink sparkling water at dinner instead of a glass of wine.
• I will use skim milk on my cereal instead of whole.
There are more steps you can take! Why not sub in a serving of fish (in place of meat) at least 2-3 times a week—or try a vegetarian dish? Remember—small steps can lead to big results.
Resolution three: exercising more
Fitting more fitness into your busy schedule—no problem! Though it can seem daunting to take on this New Year’s challenge, exercise is so important in maintaining a healthy lifestyle, it’s worth the effort to try. So how can you help yourself succeed? First, choose activities you like and start small. Remember, it doesn’t help you to start training for a triathlon if you’ll work on it twice and then give up.
If you currently exercise, plan to increase your workouts by 10 minutes per session or 1-2 times per week. If you don’t currently exercise, start small, like taking a 15-minute walk during your lunch break. There are also loads of apps you can download to your smart phone or mobile device to help you get motivated to move more—you can find apps for running, spinning, yoga, walking, weight lifting and much more.
Examples of reasonable exercise increases include:
• I will add 10 minutes of weights after my usual cardio routine.
• I will join a fitness Meet-Up.
• I will lift hand weights at commercial breaks during my evening TV shows.
• I will park farther from the building at work or the mall.
• I will spend my lunch break using a yoga app.
Don’t let the weather be an excuse for non-exercise. This just means you need to move your exercise to a different location.
Resolution four: quitting smoking
Breaking up with tobacco is a difficult, stressful task for most smokers. For this reason, it’s especially important to use the “one at a time” technique and tackle this resolution independently.
Set a date for yourself and announce your plans to others so they can provide support. Elect a way to distract yourself from the urge to smoke, such as by exercising. Change your routines so certain patterns don’t trigger the desire to smoke. Contact your doctor to discuss medications or smoking cessation products, for example gum or lozenges. Finally, consider the following as small changes you can make, or mini-resolutions, on your path to quitting:
• If you usually smoke in the car, choose a different route to work or to your destination.
• If you smoke while in a particular room or while sitting on a particular piece of furniture, rearrange the room or get rid of that piece of furniture.
• If you smoke after a certain meal, change the room you eat that meal in.
If you need help quitting, talk to you doctor.
Resolution five: spending more time with family and friends
Many of us live hectic lifestyles, full of work and everyday responsibilities. But remember—taking time to be with our loved ones is the good stuff in life, beyond all the commitments we hold ourselves to every day. So how can you keep in touch when it seems there’s just not enough hours in the day?
Though the benefit of one-on-one interaction should never be underestimated, we have plenty of technology that makes it easier to catch up with our family and friends. Increase social connections little by little with the following:
• Schedule an ongoing monthly appointment with a family member or friend, to talk on the phone or meet for coffee, if possible.
• Consider setting up a date to Skype with a family member or friend who lives far away. You can chat face-to-face and it’s more intimate than a phone call or email.
• Try multi-tasking by setting up an outing where you can accomplish other things while catching up. Try meeting up at the gym, the grocery store or the laundromat.
You can do it!
This year, allow yourself to take small steps toward a healthier you. Little changes in your daily routine will help you see results that push you to keep going. Here’s to your good health in 2019!