The 15 Best New Year’s Resolutions for Your Health

Are you unsure which of your priorities is most important in the New Year? Do you have plenty of dreams for the future, but not many concrete plans?

Check out these 15 resolutions you can make to improve your physical and mental well being during the next 12 months and beyond.

Resolutions to Improve Your Physical Health 

  1. Eat right. Focus on adopting healthy eating habits rather than resorting to crash diets. Learn to eat more slowly and reduce your portion sizes.
    • Eat a variety of foods with plenty of complex carbohydrates, fresh vegetables and fruits. Add in some lean proteins and healthy fats to complete your meals.
  2. Exercise daily. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise every day. Round that out with training for strength and flexibility.
    • Find a variety of activities that you enjoy, like brisk walks and biking.
    • Get an exercise ball or treadmill that you can use at home on busy days or when the weather outside is unpleasant.
  3. Get adequate rest and sleep. Insufficient sleep can make you more vulnerable to weight gain and many illnesses. Different individuals need different amounts of sleep, but the conventional eight hours is a good rule for most people. If you constantly feel drowsy, try going to bed earlier.
  4. Take care of your bones. Almost half of all women over 50 will suffer an osteoporosis-related fracture. Men can be at risk too. Eat plenty of foods rich in calcium and vitamin D. Get some sunshine and lift weights or do other resistance training.
  5. Practice good posture. Strong abdominal muscles will protect your back from injury and help you look younger.Get used to pressing your navel towards your lower back and keeping your shoulders relaxed. Breathe from your abdomen rather than your chest.
  6. Quit smoking. You probably already know all the dangers of smoking, including lung cancer and premature aging.
    • Many people make several attempts before quitting for good so be open to various cessation methods. Your doctor may be able to help you find the right plan for you.
  7. Drink alcohol in moderation. Some people may need to avoid alcohol all together. Others can stay safe within the general limits of one drink a day for women and two for men. Avoid alcohol before bed so you get good quality sleep.
  8. See your doctor. Regular checkups enable early treatment to keep small health issues from growing worse. If you can’t afford health insurance, you may be able to get some free or inexpensive screenings at local pharmacies and health fairs.

Resolutions to Improve Your Mental Health

  1. Manage stress. Keeping stress under control lets you enjoy life more. Set aside time each day for meditation or listening to soothing music.
  2. Build healthy relationships. Develop a strong network of support. Communicate openly and with respect.
  3. Monitor your thoughts. Think positive. Divert your attention away from nonproductive worrying by brainstorming creative solutions to challenging situations.
  4. Practice positive self talk. Be a good friend to yourself. Remind yourself of your strengths and accomplishments.
  5. Be compassionate.Show compassion to yourself and others. Be aware of the suffering in the world and look for ways to alleviate it.
  6. Engage in lifelong learning. Keep your mind sharp by giving it constant challenges. Take adult education classes or listen to foreign language tapes.
  7. Consider counseling. It’s wise and courageous to ask for help when you need it.Professional counseling or spiritual practices may help you bounce back from unfortunate events like divorce or unemployment. They can be useful for smaller things, too, like if you’ve just had a rough week.

While many New Year’s resolutions get discarded faster than the dried out Christmas tree, there are ways to make them stick. Set specific goals that are meaningful and attainable for you. Improving your physical and mental health is a great gift for yourself and your whole family.

Painless Strategies for Cutting Your Portion Sizes and Losing Weight

Portion control is key to losing weight without feeling deprived. You can eat chocolate cake and other foods you love if you just reduce the serving size. Try these strategies to reduce your portion sizes and lose those extra pounds.

Tips for Eating at Home

1. Plan weekly menus. Sketch out your eating plan for a week at a time and use it to guide your grocery shopping. Many people underestimate how much they eat. This system will make any discrepancies obvious. If you run out of food before the end of the week, you may need to re-evaluate your diet.
2. Read the package labels. It’s easy to assume that convenience foods would be packaged in single servings. Check the label to be sure. A single bottle of juice often contains 2 or more servings, so find out how many calories you’re really consuming.
3. Learn to eyeball. A three-ounce portion of grilled fish is about the size of a deck of playing cards. A cup of breakfast cereal looks about as big as a tennis ball. You may want to measure and weigh your favorite foods while you’re learning to visually estimate portions.
4. Count your bites. Counting each bite is another temporary method that can help. Notice how many bites you’re eating. By eating more mindfully, you may find that your taste buds are satisfied with just a few spoonfuls of ice cream.
5. Divvy up your plate. As you learn to visually estimate portions, you’ll discover about how much of your plate they typically cover. Keep this in mind when you dish up your food. Health experts recommend that most adults get about 2 to 3 cups of vegetables daily, so get used to giving them the most room.
6. Use smaller dishes. Smaller plates and bowls will make servings look more generous. Keep big platters off the table to remove the temptation to help yourself to more. When snacking, put just a few chips in your bowl at a time. Force yourself to walk back to the kitchen again if you want more.
7. Package or freeze leftovers. You can save time by baking big batches of lasagna. Just put the leftovers in the freezer right away so that you don’t succumb to the temptation to have just a little more.

Tips for Dining Out:

1. Set aside leftovers immediately. The same strategy works when you’re eating out. Cut your hamburger in half and push the remainder to the side. If your powers of resistance need a little support, ask ahead for half of your meal to be packed to go.
2. Ask for sauces on the side. Sauces and dressings can add a lot of calories to otherwise healthy dishes. Request that condiments be served on the side so you can control how much you use.
3. Order the smallest size. You can minimize the damage at fast food places by ordering the smallest size on the menu. Hot French fries taste better so you can actually have a more satisfying experience by eating less.
4. Share a meal with a friend. Splitting a meal is often more fun than having leftovers. Ask your server to divide it or just bring two spoons if you’re very close friends.
5. Ask questions. Some items are obviously dangerous to your diet, but others may require clarification. Ask what’s in the salad or how big the seafood platter is. You may want to leave out the bacon or decide that the appetizer has enough calories for a whole meal.
These new eating habits are effective and easy to learn. By reducing your portions sizes, you can manage your weight while enjoying a wide variety of delicious and healthy foods.

Traveling Light: Cutting the Calories While On the Go

Do you travel a lot? You can still stick to a healthy diet with a little advance planning. If you’re watching your weight, these are some simple techniques for cutting calories while on the go.

Advance Planning

1. Eat well before leaving. It’s always easier to resist fattening foods if you feel full. Enjoy a hearty meal before you set out. If you have an early flight, get up in time to enjoy a breakfast of whole-wheat toast and oatmeal with raisins.
2. Call your hotel. Phone the concierge or the front desk at the hotel where you’ll be staying. Ask for their recommendations for nearby places where you can eat light. Research the location of the nearest grocery store. You can save money and calories by picking up fresh vegetables and fruits to snack on.
3. Do some investigative work. Go online to find your best options at the airports and destinations you have planned. Airport websites usually list their restaurants. Search local business directories by zip code to find ethnic or vegetarian restaurants, health food stores, and farmers markets.
4. Bring along bottled water. Bottled water is a traveler’s best friend. Staying hydrated helps keep you from feeling hungry. A frozen bottle of water can serve as a cooler to keep your snacks chilled. When it melts, you can drink the water and refill it to use as a free weight for exercising.
5. Pack your own meals and snacks. Preparing your own meals and snacks will give you more control over your diet. Put together a trail mix of nuts, lightly sweetened cereal, and dried fruits. Fill zip lock bags with cut vegetables or peanut butter on crackers.
6. Keep your car stocked with healthy snacks. Many people spend long hours in their cars. Always have water and healthy snacks handy like nuts, dried fruit, and low-fat energy bars.

    Eating Away From Home

      1. Control your portion sizes. You can enjoy dining out and still eat like a thin person. Make a meal out of a couple of appetizers instead of a full size entree. Cut your entree in half and take the leftovers back to your hotel for breakfast. Split a dessert with your travel companion.
      2. Eat slowly. Slowing down is a simple and effective way to consume fewer calories. You’ll recognize when you’re full instead of overeating. Put your fork down in between bites.
      3. Learn to read menus. Wherever you eat, there are some common terms that usually indicate dishes low in fat and calories. Look for red sauces rather than creamy white sauces, steamed mussels rather than deep fried fish, and pizza with vegetable toppings rather than extra cheese or sausage.
      4. Fill up on healthy side dishes. If you’ve already consumed a lot of calories for the day, skip the French fries. Order a green salad with low fat dressing on the side. By putting the dressing on your own salad, you can control the quantity and therefore the calories.
      5. Avoid high calorie drinks. Soft drinks, shakes, and many cocktails can add on a lot of calories. Drink water with your meals. At the bar, order a small glass of white wine instead of a White Russian.
      6. Ask for slimmed-down dishes. Many restaurants offer lighter dishes for the health conscious. You can also ask for sauces on the side or substitute another vegetable for the potatoes.

      It can be challenging to eat right when you’re away from home. Planning ahead will help you avoid being tempted by fast food. A nutritious diet will give you the energy you need to enjoy your travels and return home without any excess baggage.