Health Advocate Blog

New Year’s resolution: Taking little steps toward a healthier lifestyle

With the end of the year approaching, New Year’s resolutions are all the rage.  And so many of the resolutions are the same: I will lose weight.  I’m going to go to the gym every day.  While those resolutions are certainly admirable, if you want to get healthy and create healthier habits for yourself, you don’t have to make huge changes to your lifestyle.  Check out these simple, healthy, and inexpensive mini-resolutions that can, individually and together, help you get on the road to having a healthier 2012.
  • Drink one more glass of water each day.  That’s all–just one.  Better yet, swap your daily bad-habit sugary beverage out for this extra glass of water.
  • Take the stairs more often. At the mall, take the stairs instead of the escalator. At work, favor the stairs over the elevator.
  • Walk more. At work, take a 5-minute mental health break every few hours–get up, stretch your legs, and take a stroll around the cube farm.  At home, pace or walk in place while chatting on the phone–or dust and vacuum more often (you’re walking around when you do both of those activities!).
  • Read labels. Read the labels on everything you eat. Be conscious of how many calories you’re consuming on an average day and what types of foods those calories come from.
  • While you’re reading labels, also plan to eat foods that don’t have labels–like healthy fruits and veggies fresh from your grocer’s produce department.  Aim to add one more serving of fruit or veggies to what you eat each day.
  • Every day, take five minutes (or more if time allows) to de-stress.  Regardless of whether you’re the busiest parent or the most deadline-driven employee, you’re likely stressed and need a little time where your only focus is on relaxing for a few minutes.  Sip your favorite hot beverage, pick up a magazine to read, rub the knots out of your shoulders, sit and look out the window, daydream—the possibilities are endless, and your heart (and frazzled brain) will thank you for it.
  • Become a swapaholic. Each day, take a look at what you’re eating and consider making a healthier swap.  For instance, try swapping your morning bagel and cream cheese for a slice of whole wheat toast with peanut butter.  Swap out the individual serving of potato chips you have at lunch for a crisp apple.  Ordering pizza for dinner?  Instead of loading it up with extra cheese and pepperoni, consider topping it with iron-rich spinach or other tasty veggies.
  • Each day, take a moment to remember something, or a few things, that you’re grateful for in your life.  Keeping yourself healthy also means making an effort to promote good mental health, and positive thoughts can help that.
  • Be proactive. Set reminders for yourself to schedule your yearly checkup with your doctor (where you can also inquire about any preventive screenings you might need, like a mammogram), teeth cleanings with your dentist, flu shot, any vaccines (such as a tetanus shot) that you may not be up-to-date on, and more.
  • If you want to start exercising, start small.  Do sit-ups, jumping jacks, or crunches during the commercials of your favorite TV show.  Stretch for a few minutes when you wake up in the morning.  Take a brisk walk around the block.  If you belong to a gym, that’s great—but if you do, you may want to work out sans gym until February or so.  There are plenty of well-meaning novice gym rats who use going to the gym as their New Year’s resolution—but as the year goes on, there will be fewer there as some of them lose track of their resolutions.  By waiting to go to the gym until it’s a little less crowded, you could get a better selection of machines and equipment to use, and you may not have to wait as long for assistance from the gym’s trainers or other staff.
By taking smaller, less drastic steps to achieve your goal of better health, you’re increasing the chance that you actually stick with these changes in the long run—and maybe these little improvements will inspire you to make even healthier changes down the road.