With 2019 having just arrived, many of us are making resolutions and setting goals for the coming year. Resolutions related to health improvements are often at the top of the list, with popular picks including losing weight, eating better and exercising more.
Unfortunately, less than 10 percent of people stick to their resolutions. The reason for this low success rate is because New Year’s resolutions are often vague, the steps to reach the resolutions are usually not planned out and may include unrealistic expectations.
1. REVIEW YOUR YEAR
Take a look at what your diet and health have been like for the last 12 months. Think about these questions and write down your answers in a notebook so that you can look back at them again a year from now:
- Do you eat at home most of the time? If so, what types of foods? Whole fresh foods, boxed foods, or TV dinners?
- Do you dine out frequently? What types of restaurants do you like and what kinds of foods do you choose?
- How physically active are you? Do you exercise regularly?
- Do you eat healthy portions, or do you stuff yourself with every meal?
- Do you smoke?
- How much alcohol do you drink each week?
It's important to take an honest look at your health and dietary habits so you can set goals for the next year.
2. SET YOUR GOALS
One possible goal for your first month could be a resolution to take your lunch to work four days per week for each week this month instead of eating lunch in restaurants every day.
Another example of a monthly goal would be to walk for 30 minutes four days per week each week this month.
Start with your statistics. Take body composition measurements, make your goals and write them down.
3. DETERMINE YOUR DIETARY NEEDS
Here are some ideas you might want to consider:
- Do you have diabetes? If so, then you need to reduce your sugar intake.
- Do you have high cholesterol? Increase your intake of soluble fiber like the fiber found in oatmeal. It will help lower your cholesterol levels.
Reduce your intake of saturated fats and increase your intake of omega-3 fatty acids from fish, flax, walnuts, and canola oil.
4. DESIGN YOUR HEALTHY NEW DIET
- Do you feel better with three large meals per day or five smaller meals per day?
- Will you continue to eat in restaurants often?
- What types of fruits and vegetables do you like?
A healthy diet should give you five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables per day, 25 to 38 grams of fiber per day, five or six ounces of protein per day, and a small amount of omega-3 essential fatty acids. To stick with your new diet, you'll want to include foods you enjoy. If you love hamburgers, that's OK. Make them at home with whole grain rolls and cut down the size of the burger patty, or use ground turkey. Add lots of lettuce, onion, and tomato. Serve your burger with a salad instead of fries.
- Choose crunchy raw green beans instead of chips and serve them with a little of your favorite dip.
- Replace high fat hot dogs with soy dogs.
- Choose whole grain bread and pasta instead of white bread and white pasta.
- Skip the sugary desserts and have a small dish of fresh berries with a dab of whipped cream or non-fat whipped topping, then add a sprinkling of chopped walnuts.
- Use lemon juice instead of oil for a salad dressing.
- Choose low-fat ground turkey instead of high-fat ground beef to cut back on saturated fat. (But remember to read the label—not all ground turkey is low in fat.)
- Use these tips for finding healthful foods on a restaurant menu.
5. SHOP AND COOK
The best cooking methods are essential for healthy nutrition, too:
6. GET FIT
Good nutrition is just one part of a healthy lifestyle. Another component of health and fitness is exercise. If you lead a sedentary lifestyle, you need to get out and get moving. If you want to lose weight, it is important to increase aerobic activity like walking or running. If you need to increase your strength, then you need to start resistance training such as lifting weights.
There are health clubs, gyms, and personal trainers, as well as at-home equipment to get you fit and healthy.
How much alcohol do you drink? One drink per day has been shown to be beneficial. More than one drink per day can be detrimental to your health, however. If you find yourself drinking more than four ounces of wine, two ounces of liquor, or 12 ounces of beer each day, then you may need to decrease your consumption of alcohol.
7. REDUCE YOUR STRESS
8. STAY MOTIVATED
Sometimes getting started with a new healthy diet and fitness plan is the easy part. Many of us hit occasional roadblocks due to busy schedules, loss of motivation, or weight loss plateaus.
Those are the times when we feel like we do everything right, but the scale doesn't seem to budge. When this happens, don't give up. Think back to why you made the goal in the first place and find the inspiration you need to get back on track. Be sure to celebrate your small successes too! Here are some non-food related ways to reward yourself for the progress you make toward reaching your goals.
Here are some traditional New Year’s resolutions made “SMART.”
TRADITIONAL RESOLUTIONS -> TR
SMART RESOLUTION -> SR
If you have met your initial goal, recognize that accomplishment and celebrate. For some it helps to have a reward system set up; as each milestone is met, you can do something nice for yourself. It is best to reward yourself with nonfood items, such as buying an outfit, going to a concert or getting a massage.
If you are not where you set out to be at your check-in, it’s OK. Don’t get discouraged. This is the time to reflect on why you got off track and make any necessary adjustments to your “SMART” resolution.