As we welcome 2023, it’s time to set healthy new year’s resolutions…ones that you can stick to throughout the year. The key to long-term success with resolutions is to set small, realistic attainable goals. Far too often, we are tempted to go too big too quickly which leads to failure. Instead of going big in 2023, let’s talk about setting small, doable, healthy new year’s resolutions you can continue for a lifetime.
Healthy New Year’s Resolutions That You Will Be Able to Keep
Increase Your Daily Step Count
Walking has endless health benefits and can be doable for a lifetime. We recommend investing in a pedometer: a device that you wear that counts your daily steps. First see how many steps you get on a normal day. From there, you can then set a goal to simply take more steps each day. Active adults should aim for at least 10,000 steps per day. More sedentary, older adults should aim for at least 5,000 steps per day. Most children should get 12,000-15,000 steps per day.
Exercising is one of the most common new years’ resolutions. Sadly, most people will not keep up this resolution because they set unrealistic goals. Consider simply making it your goal to move more each day. Start by being mindful of when and how often you are sitting. Once you determine how much you sit throughout the day, aim to stand and move more. For example, if you have a desk job, incorporate a 5-minute break every hour to stand. Moving more is a flexible goal and can include doing housework, making recipes from scratch, shopping, parking the car further away, playing with your kids at the park, etc. Anything to just get you moving more counts!
Eat more slowly and eat less
In the U.S. we are overwhelmed with large food portions…meals and snacks that exceed our caloric needs. Eating quickly often leads to eating too much because our stomach isn’t given enough time to tell our brain we are full. Take the time to slow down, sit down, and slowly enjoy your meal. Eat until you are comfortably full and then stop (even if you haven’t cleaned your plate). Save leftover food for later.
Eat More Vegetables and Fruits
Dieting is another common resolution that often cannot be sustained because of setting unrealistic goals. Instead, set a small goal of just eating more vegetables every day...particularly eating more green and non-starchy vegetables. If you don’t currently eat any vegetables, that’s okay, start small. Consider replacing mashed potatoes with sauteed spinach instead. Bring carrots and dip or celery and peanut butter to work for an afternoon snack. Don’t like the taste of kale or snow peas or asparagus, keep trying new recipes to make your veggies tastier. It’s ok to add a little butter, and herbs make everything taste better. Substitute fruit for sugary snacks and desserts. In the mood for a cookie, grab an apple instead. Rather than ice cream for dessert, try plain yogurt with fresh berries or a small bowl of mangoes or peaches. Set a goal of adding one vegetable to your daily diet each week. The goal is to gradually keep adding more as time goes on.
Make Sleep a Priority
Many of us tend to forget the importance of sleep. Think of sleep as a meeting you cannot change or miss. It is a time when our bodies do a lot of clean up and is important to help us live long, healthy lives. Set a sleep schedule and stick to it. A consistent sleep routine is best. Aim for 7-9 hours of good, restful sleep every night.
Make time for yourself, even if it’s just 10 minutes a day. Take those 10 minutes to slow down and declutter your brain. Consider practicing mindfulness meditation, and there are many apps and books that can guide you. Just giving yourself a set amount of time during each day to enjoy a favorite activity can be healing for the soul. Do what works for you, but make sure you make it a non-negotiable daily activity.
Cut Back on Alcohol
If you consume alcohol, look at how much you drink weekly. Moderate alcohol intake has health benefits; too much can be harmful. If it’s too much (>1-2 drinks per day), consider slowly cutting back by decreasing by one drink per week. If all goes well, continue to cut back until you are drinking a safe, healthy amount.
Stop Negative Talk
Whether it’s about yourself or others, aim to avoid speaking or thinking negatively. This may seem easy, but once you start being mindful of how often you speak negatively, you may be quite surprised. Optimistic, glass-half-full thinking leads to increased happiness and well-being.
New year’s resolutions feel good to make, and it’s good to aspire to be better. That initial success can feel empowering. However, many of us soon find ourselves getting off track or giving up. Setting small, sustainable goals is the key to making new years’ resolutions last a lifetime.