• 10 Healthy Resolutions to Adopt in the New Year

    by Dr. Payal Bhandari
    on Jan 6th, 2017

A third of Americans make New Year’s resolutions each year, but not all of them see their resolutions through. About 75% of people are still on track with their New Year’s resolutions after one week, while only 46% are still keeping with their resolutions six months later.

We usually have good ideas when we make our resolutions, but following through is difficult. A good example is the attendance at your local gym. In the first few weeks of the year, you can hardly get parking space, or you have to stand in line for the treadmill, but by the middle of February visitors to the gym start to trickle down.

So why do we find it so difficult to keep with our resolutions? Here are the most common reasons:

The key is to set goals that are both achievable and practical. If you know it’s going to be difficult to get to the gym each morning for an hour-long workout, rather trade it in for a brisk half-hour walk during your lunch break.

We’ve compiled a list of easy resolutions that can make a big difference in your overall health and well-being. Once you’ve mastered these resolutions, you’ll be able to take on more the following year.

1. Eat Family Meals Together

Eating together helps us to relax and catch up with our families. It keeps communication flowing and helps teens stay out of trouble and decreases the risk of obesity in children.   

Choose to have breakfast or dinner together as a family. Try to also cook fresh healthy meals together. Everyone will feel more empowered with contributing to the meal creation and more aware of what all the ingredients are in making the meal.

Even if everybody can’t make it every day, this habit will benefit your entire family’s health and happiness.

2. Eat More Green Vegetables

Vegetables should make up 65% of our diet and consist mostly of leafy greens. These veggies contain all the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and protein you need to stay healthy.

Fresh fruits are also important but never a substitute for eating your greens.

You may try to first clean out your pantry of all of the processed and pre-packaged ready-made food. You can then make more room in your kitchen for fresh produce.  

Try to then plan meals where fresh green vegetables is a larger percentage of each meal.  If you’re interested in having a complete diet makeover, read our guidelines about what is a healthy, well-balanced diet.

3. Find Ways to Be More Active

We all need at least one hour of physical activity each day.  Children need at least 2 to 3 hours per day of physical play time.

Here are some fun, creative ways to incorporate physical play into your daily life, for both children and adults:

4. Set a Device-Free Zone or Time

Electronic devices are addictive. They are hard to go without and tend to fill up our time. They make kids and adults more sedentary  increasing our risk of major health problems (i.e., diabetes, obesity) and are detrimental to our sleep.

Make the bedroom a device-free zone. Try to also avoid using electronic devices during meal times, 1.5 hours before bed, in the middle of the night, and right upon awakening in the morning.

5. Have More Fun Together as a Family

We’re often too busy to spend as much time with the family as we want to. Working long hours may make us feel isolated, both for the person who is at work and those at home waiting for them to come back. This leads to stress and can hamper learning and creativity in children.

Make more time to play together without too many distractions. Some ideas include playing ball in the park, playing board games, or dancing together.

6. Make a Grocery List Before You Go Shopping

When we go to the supermarket aimlessly, we often make poor and expensive food choices. Try not to go to the shop when you’re hungry. Everything looks good and healthy when you’re hungry, leading to unhealthy choices.

Have a look at what’s in the fridge, plan your meals ahead, and make a list of what you need to buy for the next few days.

7. Cut Your Stress Levels

Chronic stress can lead to insomnia, heart disease, obesity, anxiety, and depression. We all need an outlet for our stress, such as exercising, laughing, or socializing more. If you’re usually a workhorse, try to get home a bit earlier each day. Getting enough sleep is also a good stress-buster.

Get our free e-book for more tips on how you can cut your stress levels.

8. Learn Something New to Keep Your Brain Active

Several studies have shown that ongoing educational development can lower the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Learning new skills can boost your brainpower, revamp your career, and create new possibilities. When we gain new knowledge, we also acquire a sense of accomplishment, which increases our self-esteem.

Attending a night class also has social benefits, but if this isn’t an option, have a look at the many online courses available, such as EdX, Coursera, and LinkedIn’s Lynda. These platforms provide high-quality education from renowned universities like Stanford and Harvard, and their courses are either free or very affordable.

9. Get More Sleep

Getting enough sleep can do wonders for our mood and appearance, and can also strengthen our memories. Lack of sleep increases our risk of obesity and diabetes. Adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep each night, while children need more.

Read our 10 tips to help you sleep better if you struggle to fall asleep or if your sleep is frequently interrupted.

10. Dial Back the Self-Criticism

The more you criticize yourself, the harder it is to reach your life goals. We all need to look into ourselves from time to time and acknowledge our mistakes, but don’t brood over it. Stop being so hard on yourself for every blunder you make and give yourself more compliments. Everyone makes mistakes. Visualize a better you, and you’ll accomplish more, whether in your career or personal life.

Ready to Set Your Healthy Resolutions?

Don’t be too ambitious when you set your goals and healthy resolutions this year. Take small steps, and add more resolutions once you’ve created healthy habits.

Get the family together and collaborate when setting resolutions. This way you know everyone is on board and agree with the plan – it’s a great way to keep each other accountable.

If you need any help setting achievable New Year’s resolutions, reach out to Dr. Payal Bhandari M.D.

Author Dr. Payal Bhandari Dr. Payal Bhandari M.D. is a leading practitioner of integrative and functional medicine in San Francisco.

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