It can be tempting at the beginning of each new year to make drastic new year’s resolutions. Overhaul your diet! Workout 5 days a week! Stop eating sugar! Research has shown that 65% of people choose to make a resolution each year, but most abandon the same resolution before the end of January. No doubt, it can be a challenge to modify your behavior – even when you know it’s good for your health. We are set in our ways, and often fall back on poor eating habits and forgo exercise when schedules get busy and life is stressful. So how do you make the changes you know are good for you and stick with them in the long term? The key to success is short, attainable goals.
1. Add one vegetable and one piece of fruit to your plate every day. Slice up a banana for your bowl of cereal, swap out apple and peanut butter for your afternoon bag of chips or pretzels. Amp up your greens by eating a side salad a few nights each week or put a serving of spinach in your smoothie. You’ll get more fiber and feel full longer, which make it easier to say no to unhealthy snacks.
2. Go to bed 15 minutes earlier. Although sleep is a necessity to good health, it’s often treated like a luxury. If you’re a natural night owl who resists turning in early, aim to shut off the lights just 15 minutes earlier than your usual bedtime. As your body clock adjusts, you can shave off another 15 minutes in a few weeks, getting you closer to that elusive eight hours of shuteye. Your body and your brain will thank you!
3. Have a social-media free day each week. We depend on our phones for work, pleasure and for distraction. But constant social media use has been shown to have a negative impact on people’s mood and productivity. Put down your phone just one day a week to make space for enjoying time in nature, an uninterrupted dinner with family or friends, or working on a project that’s important to you.
4. Take the long way. To add more activity into your life, take the stairs instead of the elevator. Make a lap around your office each time you come in from your car. When running errands, park to the rear of the parking lot to get a few extra steps each way. Your best bet? Walk whenever and wherever you can.
5. Swap one sugary drink for water. Excess sugar can wreak havoc on our bodies – leading to a host of negative effects including tooth decay, weight gain, and an increased risk of developing diabetes and heart disease! Drinking just one less soda or sweetened drink a day can drastically reduce your annual caloric intake, leading to overall better health. Spice up your H20 by infusing it with fruit like strawberries, blueberries or peaches. If you’re craving the carbonation of a soft drink, sparkling water provides the fizz without the added sugar.
6. Reach out to friends and family. One way to boost happiness and have a great year is to stay connected to the people you love. Make a commitment to call someone you care about each week. If you’re pressed for time, a quick text to say you’re thinking of someone is a great way to foster and maintain important relationships.