It’s no secret that many New Year’s resolutions, however well intentioned, don’t stick. (Just notice the drop in attendance at the gym come March.) We claim we’re too busy to eat right, too tired to exercise, or come up with excuse after excuse as to why we just can’t complete our goals. Let’s make this the year that all of that changes. Here’s a way to ensure those resolutions become a reality—plus a few tips to help you get healthy in 2017.
Make Your New Year’s Resolution…Contractual
Decide on what health-enhancing lifestyle changes you’re willing to make, then try the “trick” we teach our patients at Whitaker Wellness. Come up with some disincentive that hits you where it really hurts—and for most people, that would be the wallet. Pledge a significant sum of money to your least favorite charity or political candidate, payable if you renege on your commitment. Write the details of your “contract” down, sign it, date it, have it witnessed, and then—and this step is very important—make it public. Tell everybody, family, friends, and co-workers about your pledge and its consequences, and keep them abreast of your progress. If you fail, pony up the money and admit you fell off the wagon. This is great incentive to get healthy in 2017. It’s easy to let ourselves down but a lot harder when there’s a financial incentive and you have people monitoring your progress.
Get Healthy Tips
Here are a few more ideas that will help you get healthy in 2017.
- Make Your Health a Priority. Don’t make excuses. Just carve out a little extra time most days of the week to take care of yourself. Whether that’s a 30-minute walk, or extra time to shop for and prepare a healthy meal just do it.
- Find a Workout Buddy. Exercise—and sticking with a consistent routine—is so much easier if you find someone to do it with you. Enlist a spouse or neighbor or join a local gym for classes with like-minded people. You’ll be glad you did.
- Try Something New. If you’re the type of person who gets bored with exercise easily, try incorporating new sports or activities into your weekly routine. Yoga, Zumba, gardening, cycling, swimming—anything out of the ordinary can help spice up your workout routine and keep it exciting.
- Set Realistic Goals. If you have a significant amount of weight to lose or have never set foot in a gym, losing 50 pounds and lifting weights or attending group fitness classes seven days a week are daunting resolutions. Instead, start smaller and work your way toward your goal, for instance try losing a pound or two per week or walking for 30 minutes every other day.
- Stick With It. Activity breeds activity…it’s called inertia. If you set your body in motion and stick with it, you’ll be well on your way to a healthier you. Commit to your fitness and health goals for a minimum of three months. This will help you establish healthy routines and set the stage for better health overall.
- Clean Up Your Diet. You can spend all day in the gym or working out but if you aren’t mindful of what you are eating, you’re going to blow all that hard work. Reduce the amount of processed foods and high-glycemic carbohydrates you eat (breads, desserts, etc.) and focus on lean protein (fish, turkey, chicken, tofu), plenty of vegetables and other fiber-rich foods (beans, legumes, flaxseed), a little fruit, and healthy fats (avocados, extra-virgin olive oil). Check out this day of healthy eating for some great ideas.
- Don’t Shop Hungry. Another note about food: eat before you head out to the store. When you shop while you’re hungry, you’re less likely to make healthy selections, and you may also end up with impulse items in your cart. Meal planning can help you avoid this pitfall as well. If you only purchase the ingredients you need for specific meals, you should be just fine.
- Start a Food Diary. Numerous studies have shown that people eat less when they record everything they eat on a daily basis. It can be a real eye-opener.
- Exercise Daily…Without the Gym. There are several ways to incorporate exercise and movement into your day, even if you never make it to the gym. Walk or ride a bike to and from work (if feasible), take the stairs, park in the far corners of the lot at the store, do yardwork or household chores. The list of opportunities to be active is limitless. Just keep moving.
- Can the Sodas and Other Sugary Beverages. Say no to sodas, fruit juices, sports drinks, and anything else that contains sugar or high fructose corn syrup. Instead, drink plenty of water each day (at least eight, eight-ounce glasses). Tea and coffee are fine too; just make sure you aren’t loading them up with sugar or chemical sweeteners. (Stevia and xylitol are excellent alternatives.)
So there you have it, several suggestions that can help you and yours get—and stay—healthy in 2017.