With each new year, many people set goals, make resolutions, and try their best to make this the year they begin living a healthier lifestyle. However, at the end of each year, these very people who had goals of becoming healthy, find themselves back in the same place they were the previous December, not making healthy choices but resolving that beginning January 1, all will change.
Many people do not stick to their goals is because the goals are unrealistic or too general. To make a resolution become reality, make specific resolutions which you can actually fulfill. In addition, resolutions need to have a positive message.
I like to stay positive especially at the start of a new year. We hear negative messages such as "do not eat this or do that." It is better to think of things we should do and things we should eat. So instead of saying you will not eat candy you can make a resolution to exercise three times a week and add a piece of fruit to your diet every day.”
So how do we start off right with healthy, realistic resolutions? It is more beneficial to start with small changes and gradually introduce new things once you are comfortable with the change in order to lead to a healthier lifestyle that is consistent.
For a healthy new year, and resolutions that actually create permanent lifestyle changes, try these 10 tips:
1) Get moving. Don’t think of physical activity as only working out-instead lead an active lifestyle by walking when possible, taking the stairs, and parking further away from entrances to starts.
2) Eat in more than you eat out. Find easy and healthy recipes and learn to make them. Becoming a better cook can lead to healthier eating and it can save money too.
3) Get out of your comfort zone. Try a new activity or a new food every week.
4) Eat breakfast – Start your day off right. Research shows that eating breakfast leads to better work performance and weight management so plan ahead for a breakfast which includes fruit, low fat dairy and whole grain carbohydrates for example try eating oatmeal with skim milk and sliced berries.
5) Drink more water. Replace sugar sweetened beverages with water so that you stay hydrated Sometimes we think we are hungry, when really we are thirsty.
6) Eat more foods from the earth. Eat more fruits and vegetables from all the colors of the rainbow and includes whole grains, nuts and seeds. Limiting the consumption of processed foods can help you achieve your goals. Processed foods can be any food that come in a box and has a long list of ingredients. This can be anything from chips to cookies.
7) Eat mindfully. Eat slowly to taste and enjoy your foods where eating is the only activity you are participating in at the time. More awareness with eating usually prevents overeating.
8) Plan meals and snacks. We make better choices when healthy food is around. Make a schedule for the meals and snacks for the week which can correspond to your grocery shopping list.
9) Stock your kitchen. Keep staples like dry goods, whole grains, frozen vegetables, fresh produce, low fat dairy, frozen proteins, and spices on hand. Having access to healthy foods will make it easier to make healthy choices as part of your plan.
10) Adequate sleep and stress management. These two aspects of health are an important part of the puzzle of starting and staying healthy. Try to get at least 8 hours of sleep each night.
By Barbara Fine, RD, LDN, a registered dietitian at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital and Illinois Dietetic Association Media Representative.