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10 Better-for-You New Year’s Resolutions

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Making a New Year’s resolution this year? If it’s to lose those pesky 10 pounds—for the sixth year in a row—why not consider making a new, more doable resolution with equally big health payoffs? Take your pick of these 10 attainable resolutions that you can actually tackle this year.

1. Get More Sleep

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What can help you feel more energized during the day, improve your mood and even help you lose weight? Sleep! “It’s a well-kept secret to good health,” says Donald Novey, MD, a physician who practices integrative medicine at North Kitsap Family Practice in Poulsbo, Washington. “The body repairs and regenerates during sleep. Even calcium is added to bones while you slumber. Getting adequate sleep is the best way to help your mind and body function at its best. Just as a cut may heal while we sleep, so can our mind.”

So how much sleep do you really need? “Optimum sleep time varies from person to person, from 4 to 11 hours a day,” says Dr. Novey. “The easiest way to find your optimum sleep time is to sleep until you wake up without an alarm clock or other interruption. Do this two or three days in a row, and you’ll have your ideal amount of sleep.” And while getting to bed earlier is easier said than done, avoiding food two hours before bedtime can ensure that your digestive system doesn’t keep you awake, and eliminating all light in your bedroom (yes, even a night light) can promote sounder, more sustained zzz’s. Photo: Shutterstock

2. Eat a Veggie or Fruit with Every Meal

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According to research, Americans eat far fewer vegetables and fruits than they need, and given the evidence linking veggie and fruit consumption to disease prevention, this is a smart resolution anyone can make and reap the rewards from. “Look at your meal,” says Keri Gans, RD, a New York City–based registered dietician and the author of the forthcoming book The Small Change Diet: 10 Steps to a Thinner, Healthier You. “If veggies and fruit are not part of it, add them. It really is much easier than you think, and so important for your health.” To squeeze in more healthy additions, “slice a banana into your morning cereal or yogurt, have an apple as dessert with your lunch, and start every dinner meal with a salad,” she suggests. “The more veggies and fruit you consume, the higher your intake of fiber, which helps fill you up, making you less likely to eat foods that are less healthy. Plus, fruits and veggies are packed with vitamins and antioxidants, which your body needs for a strong immune system.” Photo: Shutterstock

3. Find a Form of Exercise That You Love

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Don’t care for jogging or aerobics? That doesn’t mean you should give up on exercise! What works for one woman doesn’t always work for everyone else, and it can take some trial and error to find a form of exercise that is enjoyable for you. “Even if you hate doing something, you might be able to force yourself to do it for a while,” says Elizabeth Lombardo, PhD, a psychologist, physical therapist and the author of A Happy You: Your Ultimate Prescription for Happiness. “But it will be an extreme challenge to continue. Find a form of exercise or a venue that you enjoy so you will be more consistent. I had a client who swore she hated all forms of exercise. Then she tried a rebounder—a small trampoline. She told me ‘I could bound on that for hours, it’s so much fun.’” To fall in love with exercise again, make a list of five new forms of physical activity that you haven’t tried—whether it’s yoga, spinning or lap-swimming, and give each a try for two weeks. Then, pick the one that gives you the most joy, or mix up your top two! Photo: Shutterstock

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