When January arrives, many of us have already thought about our resolutions for the new year. According to Statista.com, the most common resolutions in the U.S. are health focused, including exercise more, eat healthier and lose weight.
Sadly, by January 8th, 25% of us have already given up, and by July 4th, only 46% of people are still successful with their plans to stay healthy. So how do you become one of the successful ones? By having a plan that includes small changes to your lifestyle without turning it upside down.
Cut back on alcohol and sugary drinks. By the time the holidays are over, we have all had our share of empty-calorie drinks. The American Heart Association recommends no more than 25 grams of daily sugar for women and 36 grams for men. You will find that much sugar in a 12 oz. can of soda, an 8oz. margarita or a Grande Vanilla Latte. Going into the new year, try reducing your intake of sodas, specialty coffee drinks, and alcohol. Then, slowly exchange those sugary drinks with water, unsweet teas, and homemade vegetable juice drinks until you have kicked the habit.
Start a consistent exercise program. Not everyone enjoys going to the gym to exercise. In fact, Americans spent $397 million on unused gym memberships last year, according to a survey by Finder.com. Save your money and get moving doing something you enjoy. Join a pickleball league, go on daily walks, participate in a weekly yoga or spin class, or simply lift weights at home. Use accountability apps like StickK or Pact, or find a friend to exercise with you to keep you motivated.
Make a meal plan and prep for it. As a busy mom, I set aside time on Sunday afternoons to plan our week of meals, make a grocery list and prepare anything I can to make dinner time more manageable. By having a plan, it will be easier to include more whole grains, fresh vegetables, and lean meats into your meals and keep you from hitting the drive-thru on the way home. Pinterest and Instagram are excellent sources for dinner ideas to supplement your go-to lunch and dinner recipes. Need more help? Check out the SideChef app for easy recipes and meal plans connected to grocery apps like Amazon Fresh or Walmart.
Keep learning, growing, and pursuing new things. Despite the old wives’ tale, you can teach an old dog new tricks. Is this the year you learn Spanish or how to play the piano? Maybe it’s the year you reenter the workforce or start your own business. Even tasking yourself with a simple Word a Day vocabulary builder or a daily crossword puzzle pushes you just outside your comfort zone. Challenging yourself exercises your brain and makes you mentally strong, helping to fight cognitive decline in the future.
Get more sleep. While many of us are probably aware of how much sleep our kids need, we don’t realize how important sleep is to our health. The average adult needs 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night to allow their body to rest, repair and recharge. Improve your sleep habits by keeping a consistent bedtime and creating a relaxing routine to prepare your body for rest mode. Keeping the bedroom cooler at night, replacing old mattresses, and using apps like White Noise Lite will aid in getting a full night’s rest.
Make all your doctor appointments for the year. It is amazing how often you can put this task off, but by scheduling at the beginning of the year, you will have a better chance of getting and keeping the appointment you want. Start with an appointment for a physical and discuss your health goals with your provider. Don’t forget to schedule time with a dentist (2 cleanings per year), dermatologist, gynecologist, and optometrist. Be sure to schedule your mammogram and any other age-appropriate medical tests, too.
Connect with more people. If we learned one thing during the pandemic, it is that we need human interaction. Join groups with your interests, like book clubs, animal rescues, or nature enthusiasts. Plan a consistent date night with your spouse, a mom and me date with your kids, or monthly dinner with your neighbors. Want to stay connected with people who are far away? Enjoy a Zoom cocktail hour with friends who live out of state. You can also reach out to a pen pal group and start exchanging letters with someone from across the country or the world.
Pam Molnar is a freelance writer and mother of three who strives to make her New Year’s resolutions last longer than January.