New year, new me! That’s the idea many of us wake up with on Jan. 1.
The flip of the calendar signals a fresh start, and lots of us are ready to make changes — particularly ones that will improve our health. And, while our intentions are good, experts warn you should make sure the modifications you decide on are actually 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, a family medicine physician at Ochsner Health System. “You should view resolutions not as changes you have to make but rather as better decisions for your health.”
The big picture
“It’s important to remember that obtaining and keeping a healthy lifestyle is a marathon, not a sprint,” Hardy said. “Making conscious, smart food and fitness choices everyday is not easy. There will be times when you fail, but that’s OK! Give yourself the grace to make a better decision the next time and go from there.”
1. Start small: Make small, manageable and achievable personal goals for yourself so you don’t get overwhelmed and give up.
2. Be specific: Make detailed resolutions that give you a visible goal you can plan toward.
3. Reward yourself: Celebrate your successes in achieving your resolutions and steps along the way.
4. 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 sugar is everywhere, not just candy, cookies and ice cream. Innocuous items, like flavored yogurt, can pack as much as four extra teaspoons of sugar per serving. The recommended daily amount of sugar is 25 grams, or about six teaspoons.
5. 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.
7. Remove temptation: If you see it, you may want to eat it. Clear off those counters of any unhealthy snacks that may tempt you. Put fruit out instead. And if putting snacks away doesn’t stop the munching, get them out of your house, car or desk.
8. 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 your budget. With a little creativity, daily activities and free online resources could become great catalysts for burning extra calories. Some tips include using alternatives to 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.
9. Curb your screen time: Did you know that reducing daily screen time for your family could lead to a healthier lifestyle? Screen time includes all screens — TV, smartphones, tablets and computers. Too much sedentary activity caused by screen time can lead to sleeplessness, obesity, anxiety and depression.