5 Healthy-But-Simple New Year’s Resolutions
Let's face it: Sometimes our New Year's resolutions are a little lofty, and eventually, we just throw in the (exercise) towel.
This year, aim for success with your New Year's resolutions by setting simple goals that provide big gains. Changes that feel doable can help you stick with and achieve your resolutions, so you feel better than ever.
Instead of promising to be asleep by 9 p.m., run an hour every morning and eat only salads for lunch, check out these small-but-mighty ideas:
Skip Evening Cocktails Or Beer
You may know that caffeine can keep you awake at night. But did you know that drinking alcohol too close to bedtime can also disturb sleep?
Alcohol can make you drowsy, which is why up to 20 percent of people use alcohol to help them nod off. But alcohol before bedtime also:
- Prevents you from moving into deeper, more restorative sleep stages
- Can cause you to wake up in the middle of the night
- Makes you more prone to snoring and getting up to use the bathroom
Recent research indicates that even just one drink lowers sleep quality by 24 percent. And missing out on shuteye doesn't only make you groggy and cranky but also affects your physical health. Chronic lack of sleep increases your risk of high blood pressure, dementia, heart disease and diabetes.
Getting the rest you need – seven to nine hours of quality sleep – can make you feel better mentally and emotionally, improving your long-term health. Cutting out evening cocktails is an easy way to improve your sleep.
If you do plan on drinking alcoholic beverages, try to do it earlier in the evening and limit yourself to one or two drinks. And check out these tips to find out how much sleep your body needs at night.
Take A Day Off
Are you leaving vacation days on the table? You are not alone. More than half of Americans don't use all of their vacation days. The consequence? Feeling burned out.
Taking time off from the work grind rejuvenates both your body and mind.
Studies have found that people who skip vacations year after year are more likely to experience a heart attack than those who take vacations at least once or twice a year.
Even if you can't afford to take a trip or leave work for several days in a row, taking a day off to do something that brings you joy can renew your spirit. A mental break reduces stress and anxiety and can increase your creativity and productivity back at work.
Use your day off to explore something in your community – a new bike trail, tapas restaurant or museum – and savor the experience.
Switch To A 10-Minute Workout
Think you don't have time to exercise? Think again. Try high intensity interval training (HIIT) for just 10 minutes. HIIT can be even more effective for cardiovascular health than a longer, moderate-intensity workout (such as a 45-minute continuous pace on a treadmill).
HIIT workouts involve short bursts of all-out effort coupled with longer phases of lower intensity movement. For example, you sprint for 20 seconds and then walk for one to two minutes.
This type of workout is beneficial for a wide range of people – young to old, fit to sedentary – and varies in intensity depending on the individual. For help getting started with a HIIT workout appropriate for you, check out our certified medical fitness centers.
Track Your Daily Sugar
Consuming too much sugar – the kind that’s added to food, not the type naturally found in fruits and grains – is bad for your health. Regularly consuming excess sugar has been linked to diabetes, heart disease and obesity and may also increase the risk of some cancers and Alzheimer’s disease.
Women should eat no more than 25 grams, or six teaspoons, of added sugar a day. Men should limit it to 36 grams, or nine teaspoons. But the average American eats a whopping 17 teaspoons of added sugar a day.
Read food labels to figure out how much you're consuming. It's not only desserts, sweetened beverages and other sweet, manufactured foods that are the culprits. Sugar shows up in surprising places: bread, pasta sauce and salad dressings. Studies have shown that 74 percent of packaged foods in the supermarket have added sugar.
Once you figure out how much sugar you're consuming, you can work on scaling it back.
- Choose bread that has a lower sugar content.
- Make a simple vinaigrette dressing with olive oil, vinegar and spices.
- Prepare a trail mix of roasted nuts and a handful of raisins instead of grabbing a granola bar for your morning pick-me-up.
Learn more about lowering your sugar intake, and you'll be well on your way to bettering your health.
Double Up On Vegetables
Vegetables are packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants essential to good health. But only 9 percent of Americans eat the recommended two to three cups of vegetables a day.
To meet your veggie quota, try tossing more vegetables into meals you already love:
- Pizza: Use a cauliflower pizza crust and top with peppers, tomatoes and mushrooms.
- Smoothie: Add a handful of spinach or kale, or try carrots for natural sweetness.
- Casserole: Mix thinly sliced vegetables into casseroles.
- Sandwiches: Layer vegetable slices on your lunch sandwich.
Another option is to use vegetables as healthy substitutes for not-so-healthy foods:
- Choose slices of bell pepper, cucumber, carrot or celery to eat with your dip instead of chips or crackers.
- Spread mashed avocado (one of the five healthy food trends to try) on your morning toast instead of butter.
- Roast vegetables – which deepens their flavor – for an easy side dish.
- Try these other ways to add more vegetables to your diet.
With a few simple changes, you can change your New Year's resolutions from daunting to doable. A healthier year is within your reach. For more inspiration and guidance, check out our wellness programs, services and health tools today.