New Year’s Resolutions: Keep It Simple for Success

As we ring in 2016, many of us set goals and make resolutions. This could be losing weight, exercising more, spending more time with family — the list goes on and on. One of the most common of these goals involves our health and, more specifically, our weight. Cue the long list of diets and plans that claim to guarantee to help us achieve our weight loss goals. However, these can be extremely hard to stick with in the long term and can leave us feeling discouraged and likely to go back to our old habits.

While I am a registered dietitian and believe that diet plays a significant role in overall health, it’s important to understand there are many pieces to the pie (no pun intended!). Instead of relying on one single diet or plan, I like to focus on lifestyle changes that can lead to success beyond this year. Here are a few of my favorite tips and tricks that can help you feel your best not only in 2016 but for many years to come!

1. Set small and SMART goals

When creating goals of any kind it’s important to make sure they are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound or SMART. Be sure to write these goals down and check in or revise them as needed throughout the year. Some examples of SMART goals include:

  • I will eat one serving of fruits and vegetables with lunch and dinner five out of seven days for the next week.
  • I will get the recommended six to eight hours of sleep six out of seven days each week for the next six months.

2. Enjoy your food

Restricting ourselves from eating certain foods can often lead to binge eating or overindulging. Instead, try being more mindful when eating your meals. Take it slow and savor each bite. When you start eating because it not only nourishes your body but it is enjoyable, you will find that your relationship with food will be more positive, which makes it that much simpler to follow a healthy (and balanced) diet.

3. Make sure you are getting enough (and quality) sleep

According to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), sleep plays a vital role in good health and well-being. Getting quality sleep each night can help protect your mental health, physical health, quality of life and safety. While everyone’s sleep needs vary, generally speaking most adults need an average of eight hours each night to function properly. Here are some tips to combat common sleep problems and ensure you are getting quality sleep:

  • Keep a regular sleep and wake schedule
  • Don’t drink or eat caffeine four to six hours before bed
  • Don’t smoke, especially before bedtime
  • Avoid alcohol and heavy meals before you go to bed
  • Get regular exercise
  • Minimize noise, light and excessive hot and cold temperature where you sleep
  • Try and wake up without an alarm clock
  • Attempt to go to bed earlier every night for a certain period

    Source: The American Psychological Association

4. Get moving

Research supports that 30-60 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity at least five days a week can lower the risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, hypertension, and type 2 diabetes in adults. Physical activity can also help with weight loss and maintenance. Start small and work your way up to exercising on a regular basis. Keep in mind that even a little physical activity is better than none and the benefits far outweigh any adverse outcomes.

Source:  Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the American College of Sports Medicine

5. Fruits and veggies for the win

There are several reasons why fruits and vegetables should be on your plate for each meal. They are typically low in calories, rich in many vitamins and minerals and, most importantly, they may help reduce the risk of many diseases including heart disease, high blood pressure and some cancers. AND they provide texture, color and flavor to your meal! How much do you need each day? Try filling at least half of your plate with fruits and vegetables at each meal or eating occasion. Need ideas for incorporating fruits and veggies in your diet? Check out these resources:

6. Make it fun!

Try cooking with your family once a week, sign up for a new exercise class, or learn a new joke. When you have a positive attitude and are able to find joy in the little things, you may find that accomplishing your goals becomes simple.

Cheers to 2016…and beyond!

The image “New Year’s Resolution Coasters by Lucky Bee Press” by BazaarBizarreSF is licensed under CC BY NC-ND 2.0.