Now that the holidays are over, we are all thinking the same thing – time to get started on those New Year Resolutions. Usually we come up with a bunch of resolutions, try to do them all at once and then, by January 25, they are long forgotten. How can we get those resolutions to last all year? The trick is to start small: create small goals and build upon them as you meet them. By the end of the year, you will have created a new habit without even thinking very hard about it!
Here are some small goals to get 2017 started on the right foot.
1. Drink more water.
Most of the time, when we are feeling hungry, we are actually thirsty. 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated. Being dehydrated can prevent you from losing weight and make you tired and irritable. So drink more water, more than you already are. If you are drinking 2 glasses a day, set a goal to drink 3 and build as you adjust.
2. Eat less sugar.
Americans consume, on average, about 20 teaspoons of sugar per day according to the most recent NHANES study. That is roughly three times more sugar than what is recommended by the American Heart Association. Cut back on the sweets, limit your intake of regular soda or add less sugar to your coffee in the morning. If you are craving something sweet, opt for a piece of fruit or a square of dark chocolate. Dark chocolate has many health benefits as it contains antioxidants, including the potential to lower blood pressure.
3. Move more.
Incorporate regular activity into your daily routine. This doesn’t mean you have to start training for a marathon. It can mean something as simple as taking a quick walk during your lunch break or standing up while you talk on the phone. It is recommended to get up and move every 30-60 minutes if you have a sedentary job. Exercise doesn’t need to happen all at once; it can be done in 10-15 minute spurts throughout the day, just make it fit with your current schedule.
4. Eat more vegetables.
Vegetables are loaded with all good things: fiber, vitamins and minerals, and phytonutrients. Eating more vegetables will not only help you lose weight, but will improve your skin, teeth and hair. They will give you more energy and will keep you feeling full longer. Aim to make half your plate vegetables for at least one meal per day, or bring veggies as a snack to work for those mid-day cravings. Again, just eating more than you already are is a huge improvement.
5. Limit dairy.
Cheese is one of the most energy-dense foods out there. The recommended portion size for cheese is about the size of a domino, and that portion should only be eaten at most three times per week. Other forms of dairy products such as milk and yogurt are also high in fat and cause bloating, gas and stomach upset in over 15% of the population. Opt for low fat dairy or try a plant-based alternative such as soy or almond milk. If you can’t quite give up cheese just yet, add just enough to your pizza or tacos for flavor.