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.

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.

       

      Affordable Spring Break Fun for Families

      There are lots of free and inexpensive activities for families looking for affordable spring break fun. These are some ideas for getting back to nature and enjoying the warmer weather with your kids.

      Indoor Spring Break Activities:

      1. Do crafts. Crafts are always a constructive way to entertain children, giving them an opportunity to express their creativity and develop their motor skills. For a seasonal theme, make a May Day basket or paint Easter eggs.

      2. Redecorate. Give your home a new look after you get rid of the clutter with a spring cleaning. Removable wall decals are an easy way for kids to personalize their bedroom. For affordable touches in the kitchen and bath, let kids help pick out dishtowels and novelty soaps with flowers and birds or other spring themes.

      3. Prepare healthy meals. Spring produce makes it easy to eat lighter. Take your kids shopping for colorful vegetables and fruits like baby carrots, beets and strawberries. Small children can shuck corn and shell peas while older children can learn to cut radish roses.

      4. Develop a nature library. Visit your local bookstore for guidebooks about the flora and fauna in your region. Spend time reading together. Start your own journals about the species you’ve observed and add them to your home library.

      5. Conduct your own science experiments. The change in seasons may make your kids curious about how flowers grow and what causes rain. To get ideas for science experiments you can do at home, visit your local library, websites like PBS, and local science museums.

      6. Plan your summer vacation. Get a head start on your summer vacation by giving your kids research projects. If you know your destination, they can look for kid friendly activities in the area and local museums and parks.

      Outdoor Spring Break Activities:

      1. Start a garden. Introduce your kids to the fundamentals of gardening. You can grow your own vegetables and flowers. For young children, break tasks down into simple steps and get them their own child size tools to keep it fun.

      2. Go for a picnic. The first picnics of the year always feel special. Let kids help plan the menu and prepare easy salads and sandwiches. Bring along a Frisbee so you can get some exercise.

      3. Play ball. Check out your local youth sport leagues or just put up a basketball hoop in your driveway. Look for free or inexpensive venues in your hometown where you can play tennis or golf.

      4. Celebrate Earth Day. Plan something special for Earth Day on April 22. Browse through community calendars for organized events or design your own family celebration. You could plant trees or decorate your compost pile. Take a field trip to a recycling center or a bird rescue sanctuary.

      5. Become nature artists. Spring is a great time to enjoy the beauty of nature and develop your artistic abilities. Take a walk and bring a sketchpad along. You can make quick drawings of the plants and animals you see and use them to develop your own comic strip. Collect interesting objects like stones and seashells.

      6. Volunteer together. Volunteering is a great way for families to spend time together and give back to their communities. Look for opportunities through your church or school, or consult a volunteer clearinghouse. You could help build homes for low-income families or clean up your local park.

      Your family can enjoy spring break without having to spend a lot of money. Focus on spending time together and enjoying activities that enrich your lives and improve your community.


      Living Frugally – Dating for Less

      If you’re in a committed relationship, then planning and having special events with your significant other is essentially mandatory. Many people dread dates because it usually means dressing up, going out, and spending beyond your means for an evening to please your loved one.

      Fortunately, there are many things that you can do to make the most out of  special occasions without breaking the bank.

      Try these money-saving tips to make your date special:

      1. Rent a Movie. Renting a movie is less expensive than ever, especially thanks to services like NetFlix and RedBox. Netflix allows you to rent unlimited movies per month for a nominal monthly fee. RedBox allows you to rent up to two movies at a time for the flat rate of $1 per movie per night.

      ✴         Netflix has a much wider selection of movies, but you have to request the movie with enough time for it to ship to you unless you use their on-demand streaming service. RedBox allows you to rent movies on the fly, but the system typically only offers recent releases and hit movies.

      ✴         Consider that the monthly cost for a Netflix membership costs less than a single movie ticket at the local theater.

      2. Cook a romantic dinner. Cook a meal at home, but avoid making your typical meal. Instead, experiment with something interesting or exotic. Combine in-season fresh produce with new herbs and seasonings to surprise your loved one with completely new cuisine.

      ✴         Some of the in-season vegetables and fruits during the month of February include arugula, beets, asparagus, bok choy, carrots, cilantro, clementines, fennel, grapefruits, lemons, rhubarb, turnips, tangerines and tangelos, shallots, pears, parsnips, and sweet potatoes. Buying fresh produce in season almost always nets you a good deal.

      3. Make your own sweets. Buying candy and sweets can be costly, especially just before big holidays. Offset these costs by making your own sweets.

      ✴         For example, make cake pops. Bake cake mix, then crumble the cake up and mix thoroughly with frosting. Roll into balls and skewer with lollipop sticks. Now dip the cake balls in melted chocolate or candy coating and decorate as desired.

      ✴         Making your own sweets also gives you greater control over the ingredients. There are no surprises about what may be lurking inside each chocolate in the box.

      A homemade, customized dating experience can be significantly more memorable than a mass-produced, overpriced, and commercially-driven date night. Just enjoy it!