Fri | Jan 22, 2021

New year, new you, new determination to be healthy

Published:Wednesday | December 30, 2020 | 12:11 AM

The beginning of a new year is the perfect time to make some changes in your life. For some, this means setting health goals, such as losing weight, following a healthier diet, and starting an exercise routine.

It makes sense to take advantage of that extra dose of motivation. However, more often than not, the health and wellness resolutions chosen are highly restrictive and unsustainable, leading most people to break their resolutions within a few weeks.

This is why many people make the same resolutions year after year. However, to break that cycle, it is important to make resolutions that can not only improve health, but also be followed for life.

FIND A PHYSICAL ACTIVITY THAT YOU ENJOY

Every new year, people purchase expensive memberships to gyms, workout studios, and online fitness programmes in hopes of shedding excess body fat in the year to come. Though most people start strong, the majority do not make their new routine into a lasting habit.

Still, you can increase the chances of making your fitness resolutions stick. To get started, choose an activity based on enjoyment and whether it fits into your schedule.

For example, taking a half-hour walk, jog, or bike ride before work, or swimming, or working out at a gym that’s on your way home, are simple and sustainable exercise resolutions.

Then, set an attainable goal, such as planning to walk a few specific days per week instead of aiming for every day.

Making a more realistic goal can enhance the chances of making your new routine last, especially if you’re new to working out.

EAT MORE WHOLE FOODS

One of the easiest and most sustainable ways to improve overall health is to eat more whole foods.

Whole foods, including vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and fish, contain a plethora of nutrients that your body needs to function at an optimal level.

What is more, adding more whole foods to your diet can be done slowly and consistently. For example, if you are not used to eating vegetables, start by adding one serving of your favourite vegetables to your diet every day.

SIT LESS AND MOVE MORE

Whether it is due to having a sedentary job or simply being inactive, many people sit more than they should. Sitting too much can have negative effects on health. In fact, it may be linked to an increased risk of overall mortality.

Making a resolution to sit less is an easy and attainable resolution that can be tailored to fit your lifestyle. For example, if you have a desk job that requires long periods of sitting, make a resolution to go for a 15-minute walk at lunch or to get up and walk for five minutes every hour.

CUT BACK ON SUGARY DRINKS

Cutting back on sweetened beverages is a smart idea, considering that sugary drinks are linked to an increased risk of obesity, fatty liver, heart disease, insulin resistance, and cavities in both children and adults.

Though quitting sweetened beverages right away is always an option, gradually minimising your intake may help you kick your sugary drink habit for good.

GET MORE QUALITY SLEEP

Sleep is an essential part of overall health, and sleep deprivation can lead to serious consequences. For instance, lack of sleep may increase your risk of weight gain, heart disease, and depression.

There are many reasons why people don’t get enough sleep, so it’s important to focus on your schedule and lifestyle to determine the best ways to improve sleep quantity and quality.

Decreasing screen time before bed, reducing light pollution in your bedroom, cutting back on caffeine, and getting to bed at a reasonable hour are some simple ways to improve your sleep.

PRACTISE SELF-CARE

Taking time for yourself is not selfish. In fact, it’s imperative for optimal health and well-being. This is especially true for those in caretaker roles, such as parents and healthcare workers.

For people with busy schedules and limited time, making a resolution to engage in self-care may take some planning. However, it’s well worth the time investment.

Self-care doesn’t have to be elaborate or time-consuming. It can simply mean taking a bath every week, attending your favourite weekly yoga class, preparing a healthy meal for yourself, going for a walk in nature, or getting an extra hour of sleep.

COOK MORE MEALS AT HOME

Research shows that people who cook more meals at home have better diet quality and less body fat than people who eat more meals on the go.

Start by making one meal a day, then increase the frequency over time until you are making the majority of your meals and snacks at home.

LIMIT SCREEN TIME

Many people depend on their phones and computers for work and entertainment. However, spending too much time on electronic devices, particularly on social media, has been linked to depression, anxiety, and loneliness in some studies.

Setting a resolution to cut back on the time you spend scrolling through social media, watching television, or playing computer games may help boost your mood and enhance productivity.

BE PRESENT

Research shows that being more present may improve life satisfaction by decreasing negative thoughts, which may thereby improve psychological health.

Making a New Year’s resolution to be more mindful and present may help you feel more content in your everyday life. Spending less time on your phone, stopping to notice your environment, and listening intently to others are simple ways to be more present.

TAKE A VACATION

Taking a vacation, even a short one, may have significant and immediate positive effects on stress levels and may enhance well-being.

In the new year, make a resolution to take a vacation with friends or family members, or on your own. Whether you travel to an area you have always wanted to visit or simply plan a staycation at home, taking some time for rest and relaxation is important for health.

TRY A NEW HOBBY

It is common for adults to let once-loved hobbies fall by the wayside as they get older due to busy schedules or lack of motivation. However, research shows that partaking in a hobby that you love can help you live a longer, healthier life.

Make a resolution to try out a hobby that you have always been interested in or pick up back a hobby that used to bring you joy.

VISIT YOUR DOCTOR

Getting examined regularly by your healthcare practitioner is important for many reasons. Having regular blood work and necessary screenings can help spot potential problems before they turn into something more serious.

Though your pace of doctor’s visits depends on many things, including the type of medical care, your age, and your medical history, most experts recommend seeing your primary care physician at least once a year for a check-up.

Though most New Year’s resolutions are only kept for a short period, the healthy resolutions listed above are sustainable ways to improve your physical and emotional health that can be followed for life.

You can’t go wrong in choosing a New Year’s resolution that will benefit your health, but if you want to make sure that you actually achieve your goals, you have to set realistic expectations. Define your goal clearly and make sure you know the steps you need to take to reach that goal.