New year, new me! That’s the mantra of many of us when we wake up on January 1. The flip of that calendar page signals a fresh start, and many of the changes we want to tackle are healthy ones. A word to wise though—make sure the modifications you decide on are doable.
“New year’s resolutions can be seen as trite and overdone, but if you make them manageable, they can absolutely be achieved,” said Dr. Whitney Hardy, Family Medicine, Ochsner Health System. “You should view resolutions not as changes you have to make, but rather as better decisions for your health.”
Below are nine tips from Dr. Hardy to start making healthy decisions in 2019.
- Go on a sugar strike. Too much refined white sugar can have a negative effect on your health. Sugar contains a lot of calories with no essential nutrients. Consuming too much of the sweet stuff can lead to diabetes, heart disease, liver problems and premature aging. And it’s not just candy, cookies and ice cream—innocuous items like flavored yogurt can pack as much as four extra teaspoons of sugar for each serving. The recommended daily amount of sugar is 25 grams, or about six teaspoons.
- Become a part-time vegetarian. Recent studies have linked processed and red meats such as bacon, sausages, hot dogs, veal and beef to increased risk of certain types of cancer and heart disease. If you’re a meat lover, you don’t have to skip it entirely—just try to limit the amount of red or processed meat you eat at every meal.
- Drink more water. Mid-afternoons can bring low energy moments. Instead of reaching for a snack, try drinking a glass of water. You could just be thirsty! Drinking water throughout the day can be a challenge for some, but setting a timer on your phone can help remind you it’s time to hydrate.
- Remove temptation. If you see it, you may want to eat it. Clear off those countertops of any unhealthy snacks that may tempt you. Put fruit out instead! And if hiding it away doesn’t stop the munching, throw them out.
- Makeover your workout. Holiday weight gain is a real thing, but don’t beat yourself up over it. While joining a gym is the right choice for some, pricey memberships may not be in other’s budgets. With a little creativity, daily activities and free online resources could become great catalysts for burning extra calories. Some tips include using alternatives to hand weights, such as canned goods or large water bottles; joining a walking group or biking club; and/or accessing free workout videos on the internet.
- Curb your screen time. Did you know that reducing your daily screen time in your families’ lives could lead to a healthier lifestyle? Screen time includes all screens—TV, smart phones, tablets and computers. Too much sedentary activity caused by screen time can lead to sleeplessness, obesity, anxiety and depression.
- Start small. Make small, manageable and achievable personal goals for yourself so you don’t get overwhelmed and give up on them.
- Be specific. Make detailed resolutions that will help you to achieve them and give you a visible goal you can plan toward.
- Reward yourself. Celebrate your successes in achieving your resolutions and steps along the way.
“It’s important to remember that obtaining and keeping a healthy lifestyle is a marathon, not a sprint,” said Dr. Hardy. “Making conscious, smart food and fitness choices every day is not easy. There will be times when you fail, but that’s okay! Give yourself the grace to make a better decision the next time and go from there.”