Celebrate the New Year by resolving to take better care of yourself. Start today and make it last all year. With each New Year comes a new opportunity for a fresh start, a re-do, a new you.
By EDNA COX RICE, RD, CSG, LDN
There are 365 days in a year. What will you do each day in 2017?
This year, take small steps toward positive changes. Traditionally, New Year’s Day is the ideal time to kick off this new phase in life and reinvent ourselves. Many of us use the start of the new year as a long overdue excuse to get rid of bad habits and make a list of resolutions.
A 2016 Nielsen survey showed the top two U.S. New Year’s resolutions were staying fit and losing weight. These top two resolutions are great ideas, but undertaking even one of these goals, such as losing weight, can be overwhelming. Don’t set yourself up for failure in 2017 by vowing to change everything on your list. While a lot of people end up breaking their resolutions, research shows that making resolutions is useful. What is the secret to success? People who have specific goals are ten times more likely to attain them than those who do not. Even modest, gradual changes can make a big difference.
This is a time to re-evaluate your life. The first step is to take stock of where you are. Ask yourself these five questions:
- How does your weight compare to a year ago?
- Are you still full of energy or are you tired most of the time?
- Do you cook at home? What types of food? Frozen? Canned? Whole foods?
- Are you physically active? Do you exercise regularly?
- Do you drink 8 – 10 glasses of water daily?
Don’t like your answers? Then decide on one area to change first. Healthy eating is a good place to start to improve the way you look and the way you feel. Focus on starting healthy habits. Make one change at a time. Decide on one new behavior to incorporate into your life; devote 30 days to developing this healthy habit. When you feel like this change is permanent, move on to the next goal.
Develop a plan with specific goals. Instead of thinking about moving away from a bad habit, think about moving towards a healthy change. Here are a few approaches to help you turn negative choices into good-for-you habits:
- Eat Healthier: Every week throw out one processed food – replace cookies and chips with an apple, carrot sticks or other fruits and veggies. You’ll decrease calories, fat, sugar and sodium, and reap benefits from the increased fiber, vitamins and minerals from these healthier choices.
- Decrease Sugar Intake: Decrease soda consumption from 3 cans to just 1 can daily - drink unsweetened tea, water flavored with mint, or sip on herbal tea instead. You save 360 calories daily, 2500 calories weekly! That’s almost 9,000 calories monthly that you did not consume. You’ll lose several pounds monthly.
- Dine Out Less: Try a new healthy recipe weekly. Cook a healthy soup on the weekend to enjoy during the busy week. Use the slow cooker for a healthy meal ready at the end of the day. Cook more than you need, freeze some to serve later. Dining in not only helps you save big on calories, but saves on cash as well.
- Reduce Fat Intake: Switch from whole milk to reduced fat milk. Results in a monthly saving of around 3,000 calories. Enough to lose at least one pound!
- Move It: Walking is the easiest exercise for just about everyone. It suits most fitness levels, and you can do it anywhere. Start walking 10-minute intervals. As you progress add time, speed, or more challenging hills to your walk; aim for a brisk pace.
Whatever lifestyle change you want to make, jump-start your fitness routine with these tips.
Decide to change one thing at a time. Set clear, specific goals. Devote one month to one specific goal before taking on another. Soon, the habit will be second nature. Then you’ll be inspired to add another change. Downsize expectations, go for less and get more.
Log it, track it, write it down, commit your goal to paper. Tracking your goals helps to keep you focused on them. Add your goal to your daily “To Do List;” check it off your list when completed. Record your progress and successes daily. Write down what you eat; write down when you exercise. Daily journaling will help keep your goal and progress in front of you. Recorded successes encourages you to keep moving forward.
Acknowledge each success and plan to reward yourself when you achieve each goal.
Living well is all about learning new ways to feel your best. No matter the time of year and however busy life seems, let your wellness goals guide you to achieve a long and healthy life.
Make 2017 different. Set realistic goals – make one change a month. Twelve small changes can make a big difference for a happier, healthier you. At the end of the year, raise a glass and toast your successful New Year’s Resolutions.