New Year’s Day brings with it a promise of good things to come. However, many of us who choose to make resolutions for the coming year do not keep them and tend to slack off after one month. Unrealistic goals or a lack of a solid plan are some of the reasons why we give up. WVU Medicine clinical dietitian Judy Siebart, RD, offers tips to help you live healthier in the new year and meet your goals.
1. Write down your goals.
How about doing something a little different when setting resolutions? Actually, write down your goals and use them as a roadmap to success. Post your list in a visible place where you will see it often, or carry your list with you in your wallet and read through it regularly. Develop one or two SMART goals a week to work on.
2. Set SMART goals.
- Specific: Instead of saying, “I would like to start exercising,” write down a specific exercise (e.g., walking, strength training, yoga) and how often you plan to do it. For example, “I will walk the stairs once daily this month.”
- Measurable: Rather than saying, “I will drink more water,” actually come up with a number – “I will drink 64 ounces of plain water every day.”
- Action-oriented: Get specific about the action you need to take to achieve your goal – “I will fill up my 32-ounce water jug twice a day and keep it with me for most of the day.”
- Realistic: Instead of saying, “I will never eat junk food again,” aim for a goal of limiting junk food to a single item once or twice a week.
- Time-based: In what specific time frame would you like to achieve your goal? Give yourself a reasonable amount of time so that you won’t be tempted to give up.
3. Add some healthy habits to your new year.
You can achieve any of these realistic SMART goals by making them a daily priority:
- Get a good night’s sleep: Although highly personal, strive for eight hours most nights.
- Enjoy a belly laugh: Choose to see the bright side of life every day.
- Go outside and enjoy nature: Aim for 150 minutes of physical activity per week. Exercising outside has an added bonus of a calming effect.
- Unplug daily: Reconnect with family and friends for quality time daily and weekly, or plan quiet time to read or meditate daily. Read a book per month.
- Get cooking: Prepare your favorite recipes or try some new ones. If you cook at home for most of your meals, you will consume less salt and fat than most takeout options.
- Conquer clutter: Set a goal to clean out one drawer a day or one room a week.
- Eat more plant-based foods: Aim for at least five (or more) servings of fruits and vegetables a day. Write out a menu and a shopping list. Eat the ones you like, but remember to cultivate new tastes too.
- Strive to lose 5-7 percent of your weight in pounds over three months: Try to lose one to two pounds a week if you’re above your average body weight, which is a safe, reasonable goal. This small amount will really have a positive effect on your physical and mental health.
- Quit tobacco for good: If you’re a smoker, consider attending our Breathe Well Live Well smoking cessation class starting Monday, January 8, at 6 pm at the WVU Medicine University Town Centre.
- Give back: Small charitable gestures have such a positive impact on the world (and you). This year, find a way to support a worthy cause – whether it’s time, money, clothing, furniture, or a friendly smile, we all have the ability to help someone in need.
- Visit your doctor: If you haven't seen your primary care doctor in a while, make an appointment. Discuss your weight, diet, any problems you're having, and ask what health screenings and vaccines you'll need in the coming year.
Remember, a slip or a relapse is not a collapse. Keep trying to live your best life in 2018.
Make an appointment with a WVU Medicine primary care provider to form a wellness plan for the new year: 855-WVU-CARE.