The holidays may have left you with a shrinking bank account and an expanding waistline, but don't fret. Just a few little changes to your daily grind could have a huge impact on your overall health and well-being.
Here are five budget-friendly New Year’s resolutions from our health and wellness experts for a happier, healthier new you!
Go on a Sugar Strike
Too much refined white sugar can a have a negative effect on your health because it contains a lot of calories with no essential nutrients. Consuming too much of the sweet stuff can lead to a myriad of issues including diabetes, heart disease, liver problems and premature aging.
Even if you are mindful of keeping obvious culprits like ice cream and candy at bay, be wary of foods that may seem healthy. Flavored yogurt for instance, can pack as much as four extra teaspoons of sugar for each serving. Twenty-five grams of sugar, or about six teaspoons, is the recommended daily amount, so eating just one cup for breakfast could easily catapult you over the limit for the day.
Try mixing plain or Greek low-fat yogurt with a no-calorie plant-based sweetener like Swerve or Truvia, or simply add fresh fruit for a satisfying, protein-packed alternative.
Become a Part-Time Vegetarian
A widely-publicized study has 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. This doesn’t mean you have to entirely give up that heavenly bacon at your weekly brunch, but do try to limit the amount of red or processed meat you eat at every meal.
Try substituting your morning eggs and sausage with red peppers, egg whites and soy chorizo for a flavorful punch without the added solid fat you would get with bacon or sausage. For dinner, grilled portobello mushroom caps or seared, marinated tofu steaks are great alternatives to steaks on the grill.
Cigarettes are detrimental to your health -- and your wallet. Smoking is the leading cause of preventable disease in the United States with 400,000 lives lost and more than three billion dollars in health care cost and productivity losses in Louisiana alone.
Quitting is hard; statistics show that it can take a person 6-12 times attempting to quit before they are successful. Also, people who smoke a pack a day save a whopping $2,300 each year after they quit smoking.
Ready To Quit? See if you quality for Ochsner’s comprehensive smoking cessation program.
Curb Your Screen Time
Technology is ubiquitous in our lives these days, but too much sedentary activity caused by screen time (time spent in front of a device with a screen including smart phones, tablets, televisions and computers) can lead to sleeplessness, obesity, anxiety and depression.
Reducing daily screen time can lead to a healthier lifestyle for you and your family, so suggest other activities such as family board games or going for a walk instead of sedentary screen time.
Makeover Your Workout
If holiday weight gain has left you feeling a little blue and the cost of a fancy gym membership seems out of grasp, here’s some good news: there’s no need for a costly gym to jump-start your fitness regimen. With a little creativity, daily activities and free online resources could become great catalysts for burning extra calories.
Here are a few ways to create a budget-savvy workout:
- If you are looking to upgrade your home workout equipment inexpensively, I always recommend resistance bands. They're very inexpensive and versatile, and the packs usually come with an assortment of resistances and an exercise chart for ideas too. Resistance bands travel well and storage is much easier than finding a place for weights or a treadmill.
- Download a free workout app to mix up your exercise routine. The Active app is one that I recommend to clients because it has tons of workouts. It's one of my favorites because it's very easy to use and you can pick the type of workout, duration and even equipment or body weight.
Sometimes you have to get creative and fit exercise in without doing a formal workout. Here are some things I do to exercise when life gets in the way:
- Wall sit while brushing your teeth
- Stand up when putting on make-up or doing your hair
- Use the work printer that's further away so you get more steps
- Take the stairs when you can
- Walk when you can (is that lunch spot really that far?). Park a little further away too!
- Get up and walk reminders throughout the day
- Stretch breaks & desk exercises
- Do 10-20 lunges, squats, push-ups, etc. when you wake up or before you go to bed. Pick a time that works and hold yourself accountable!
- Co-worker workouts: I recently implemented "team workouts" for my department every Tuesday and Thursday. Grab a few people in your office and do a mini workout — I promise it helps!