In the rush of anticipation for another new year and a fresh start, it's easy to make New Year’s resolutions that sound good but never go anywhere.
These realistic tactics can help you turn those good intentions into reality.
If your resolution is to be more active…
- Do as many errands on foot as possible.
Can you walk to work or the grocery store? Studies show that 20-30 minutes of walking on most days of the week is beneficial to your health. Also, three 10-minute brisk walks can give the same workout as a longer session, so break up your walking time if you want.
Read more: Exercising with Arthritis
- Try exercise that's both physically and mentally stimulating.
Not only do activities like yoga or tai chi promote strength and flexibility, they can help you focus on positive experiences and feelings that can override feelings of pain or anxiety.
- Don't stay on the couch during TV time.
During commercial breaks or between episodes on Netflix, use the floor more productively. Do stretching exercises, crunches, or leg lifts.
- Keep track of how exercise affects your mental health.
Exercise can help fight off depression and insomnia, among other problems. Thirty to 60 minutes after your exercise session, make a note of what type of activity you did and how you feel as a result. Eventually, you should be able to see patterns of what types of exercise provide you with the biggest mental pay-off.
If your resolution is to eat better or lose weight…
- Select a target range rather than inflexible benchmarks.
If you have a target range for the goal rather than firm benchmarks—for example, if your goal is to lose 10 pounds by mid-April rather than 1 pound per week—you can avoid feeling defeated if you’re falling behind on your goal, which can lead to giving up.
- Go slow and steady.
Fad diets or fasts can yield quick results, but they don't work long-term. Rather, experts advise making small, healthful changes to make long term, sustainable progress. If your resolution is to eat healthier, start by adding fruit to your breakfast and have a salad with dinner.
- Sign up for a cooking class.
A healthy diet depends not only on choosing the right things to eat, but knowing how to prepare them. A cooking class can give you a chance to socialize and learn exciting new options for preparing healthy meals.
- Don't check your progress too obsessively.
Regular check-ins of your progress are important, but being too fixated on the scale can also backfire. Checking in weekly or semi-weekly is usually enough to keep you on track and allow for fluctuations.