A Plan To Make Your Health Resolutions Stick
There is an energy and enthusiasm that can be hard to beat on Jan. 1. This spirit can be an excellent catalyst for changes to your health.
However, lofty health goals often fall by the wayside once February rolls around. This year, do something different. Aim to make simple and effective improvements to how you eat and how much you move your body. Making more sustainable changes to diet and exercise patterns can help to truly improve your health all year long.
The simple resolutions below have big long-term payoffs. Try to add one new resolution each week throughout the month of January to make this your healthiest year yet.
Week 1: Make time to move in ways you enjoy.
If exercising at a gym is not working for you, try to incorporate movement you enjoy. This can be walking around a park or in your neighborhood, dancing to music you love, or even running around outside with pets or children. You can break up exercise into 10 minute chunks throughout the day to reach the goal of 30 minutes of movement daily. This might look like taking a 10 minute walk in the morning, exercising with a 10 minute at-home video around lunchtime and running around the backyard with your pet or kids for 10 minutes after getting home from work. You can also try to get up and move during commercial breaks. All movement can add up, the key is finding the type of movement you enjoy and making it a daily habit.
Week 2: Rethink your drink.
Aim to eliminate sugar-sweetened beverages such as sodas or sugary coffee and tea drinks. Choose water most of the time. You can mix up the flavor of water by using lemon and lime, or herbs and spices such as mint and ginger. If you drink multiple sugar-sweetened beverages each day, you can either try to stop cold turkey, switch to sugar-free options or slowly decrease by one sugar-sweetened beverage each day.
Week 3: Start the habit of meal planning.
Making a meal plan for the week can help reduce food waste and make it easier to eat at home rather than takeout. If you go to the grocery store with a list based on your meal plan, then you are more likely to use up the food you purchased. This strategy can also help decrease the temptation to impulse purchase. When planning, aim to make half of your plate non-starchy vegetables, one quarter of your plate protein and one-quarter of your plate grains or starches. Be sure to include 2-3 servings of fruit per day.
Week 4: Set aside time to fully or partially prep meals.
This can be helpful for busy weekdays. Some people like to take an hour or two on Sunday to prepare all their weekday lunches. Others might prefer to meal prep by cutting up the fruits and vegetables or cooking their protein in advance. Having fruits and vegetables prepped ahead-of-time can help you make meals a bit faster, and can ensure there are healthy options on hand for snacks. Do what works for you, with the goal of cooking at home more and eating out less.
Wishing you good health.
Ashley Reed, RDN, is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. She works at Chesapeake Regional’s Lifestyle Health & Fitness Center in Diabetes and Nutrition Services.