January ushers in a period of adopting resolutions that are often focused on improving our health. And while the year may begin with an enthusiastic rush into new nutrition regimens and gym memberships, we may see our resolve to uphold these commitments dwindling by March or April. Is it realistic to expect to maintain a resolution in the long run, and is there anything we can do at the beginning of the process to pave the way for success?
As we reflect on what we want to accomplish in the new year ahead, many of us choose to concentrate on losing weight, eating better, exercising or scheduling doctor's appointments. Some of you may even be thinking, well — why not try to do all of these things at one time?
I often tell patients not to put too much pressure on themselves to transform all of their habits and routines at once. Goal setting is an admirable and useful tool. Still, it only works if we can reasonably commit to the changes, we're asking of ourselves in the long term. In many ways, it's better to start slowly and intentionally with your health reforms and allow habits to form before layering on more goals.
It is absolutely possible to keep your New Year's resolutions all year long, especially with the proper motivation and planning. These are some of my favorite tips for keeping your healthy New Year's resolutions all year long, along with some helpful resources to inspire and motivate you.
Get yourself on track in the new year with a visit to a primary care provider. Make an appointment in just a few clicks.
As you set out towards your goal, remember that making smart food and fitness choices every day is not easy. Beginning and maintaining a healthy lifestyle is a marathon, not a sprint! When considering what you’d like your New Year’s resolution to be, follow these three steps:
- Start small! Make manageable and achievable personal goals for yourself so you don’t get overwhelmed and give up on them.
- Be specific. Making detailed resolutions 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.
What you put into your body is vital to your overall health and wellbeing. If you decide that this is the year you want to focus on eating healthier, here’s a three-step recipe for success:
- Go on a sugar strike! Refined white sugar contains a lot of calories with no essential nutrients or vitamins, fiber, protein or fat. This type of sugar is often added to foods to change the taste and make them more appealing. While not all sugars are bad for us, this is the type that you need to avoid as much as possible. Consuming too much sugar can lead to diabetes, heart disease, liver problems and premature aging. Make a habit of checking food product labels and try to opt for products with less sugar.
- Drink more water. Hydration has a big impact on your energy level and alertness. It’s recommended that adults drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day. Next time, instead of reaching for a carbonated beverage or another cup of coffee, pause and select water instead. Need help keeping track? There are many great apps that can help you log your daily water fluid intake.
- Remove small temptations. Clear off those countertops of any unhealthy snacks that may tempt you. Put fruit out, instead! If you see it, you may want to eat it. If hiding unhealthy snacks away doesn’t stop the munching, throw them out and don’t replace them the next time you go to the grocery store. The next time you find yourself reaching for chips or pretzels, here are some suggestions for healthy crunchy snack swaps. And if late-night munchies throw your diet plans off track regularly, check out this list of healthy late-night snacks.
There will be times when you fail, but that’s okay! Give yourself a little grace to make a better health-focused decision the next time and go from there.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on Dec. 27, 2019.