Ten days into 2018 — how’s your resolution going? Did you resolve to live healthier this year?
After ten days, it’s likely that salads for lunch are quickly losing their appeal. But before you go back to your bad habits, consider trying a few (or all!) of these more realistic resolutions. You may be surprised by the long-term benefits!
1. Drink more water. Set a goal that works for you. Do you normally get most of your water from soft drinks, dairy, juice or coffee? Try swapping half of that for plain water. There’s no true consensus on how much water one should drink, but general recommendations are either six to eight 8-ounce glasses, or as many ounces as half your body weight in pounds (so if you’re 160 lbs, aim for 80 oz of water). You’ll notice a difference in your energy levels, headaches, and probably your waistline – because you’re replacing sugary drinks with zero-calorie water.
2. Get moving. Activity level is one of the greatest predictors of health. If you sit at a desk all day, it’s particularly important that you get your body moving, even if you only start with ten minutes a day! Take a short walk at lunch, or try standing at your desk. When you park, choose a spot further out in the lot so you have to walk. Meet up with a friend for a stroll, instead of a drink! The important thing is to choose activities that you enjoy, so that you’re more likely to continue doing them.
3. Watch your portions. You don’t have to go on a crazy diet to lose weight. In fact, many people who attempt fad diets end up gaining weight when the diet ends, in part because a severe caloric deficit can greatly lower your metabolic rate. Let yourself enjoy the treats you don’t want to live without, but keep your serving sizes modest. It helps to read the nutrition facts on your food packages – many “single-portion” foods actually contain multiple “servings,” so that 100-calorie snack is really only 100 calories if you eat half of it!
4. Nurture relationships. Emotional health and physical health are absolutely intertwined. It seems to be especially easy in winter, with the short daylight hours, to isolate ourselves at home. Make an effort to spend time with friends and family, even if it’s just once a week. Bonus points if you can meet up and be active – go for a hike, give yoga a shot (laughter is great for the abs), or walk the dogs together!
5. Get more rest. One third of all Americans don’t get enough sleep. Lack of sleep can affect stress levels, weight, immunity, and mental health, among many other things. The exact amount you need is unique to you and can change over time, but most people need between seven and nine hours every night. If you have trouble falling asleep, try limiting screen time at least half an hour before bed (blue light is known to interrupt the production of the sleep hormone melatonin).
6. Snack smarter. Many people snack because they’re bored, not because they’re hungry. If you’re snacking to occupy yourself, choose carrots sticks over chips! Calories add up quickly when you’re not paying attention. And if you truly are hungry, choose a snack that will provide sustained energy, like a banana with peanut butter or low-sugar yogurt with granola.
7. Get some sun. Vitamin D is essential for a wide range of functions, and it’s likely that in Washington, you’re not getting enough. Make a point of getting sunshine when you can – but when you can’t, talk to your doctor about Vitamin D supplements.
8. Go easy on yourself! Everybody has moments of weakness. If you mess up, forgive yourself and start over. A self-defeating attitude will sabotage any efforts to improve your health – and trying to stick to an unrealistic crash diet will likely cause you to binge instead. Try exercising moderation instead of limiting yourself to “rabbit food,” and don’t be afraid to live a little.