For most people, a new year often signifies a beginning. For those wanting to lose weight, this means setting new health goals, following a healthier diet, and exercising more.
Unfortunately, more often than not, the resolutions we plan are highly restrictive and impossible to sustain, causing more to give up within a few weeks. Then people try again to make the same resolutions year after year.
So how can you break that cycle? Here are some of healthy New Year’s resolutions you can actually keep. Read on.
1. Focus on Eating More Whole Foods
Eating more whole foods should be easy for most people. It is sustainable and will help you improve your overall health. You can see whole foods everywhere! These are fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and fish.
If you are not used to eating whole foods, you can start with small servings. Choose your favorite veggie or fruit and add it to your daily diet.
2. Buy or Cook A Healthier Version of Your Favorite Meals
Just because you have decided to change your lifestyle into a healthy one, it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy good food. In fact, the healthier your diet, the tastier the food (4).
Many people think that healthy people eat foods that aren’t tasty. They couldn’t be more wrong. You can still enjoy most of the food you are already eating and loving, but with a small twist.
For example, instead of eating French fries you can grab mashed potatoes. Instead of deep-frying your favorite chicken wings, get chicken breast and top it with some tasty sauce.
Another thing to keep in mind is to make sure you always have options. While some make poor food choices because of lack of discipline, many fall short because of their limited choices. So getting a full fridge with healthy food options is vital for your weight loss journey.
3. Sit Less and Move More
Does your work cause you to have a sedentary lifestyle? Because in today’s modern world, many are working on computers and sitting more than they should. Did you know that sitting too much can affect your health negatively? It is being linked to an increased risk of overall mortality (5).
This new year, make a resolution to stay more active. If you have a desk job that requires long periods of sitting, go for a short walk during lunch and use the stairs whenever possible.
4. Avoid Sugary Drinks
Cutting back on sweetened drinks is a good idea as they are being linked to an increased risk of obesity, heart disease, insulin resistance, fatty liver, and cavities in both kids and adults (6, 7, 8, 9, 10).
Though this is easier said than done, gradually minimizing your intake can help remove this habit long-term.
5. Sleep Well
There are several reasons why most people lack sleep. It could be because of work, school, and other extracurricular activities. Even if you have a very busy schedule, you have to make adjustments to allot time for quality rest and sleep. Learn how to prioritize and get rid of activities that aren’t really that important.
Screen time before bed is one perfect example. Keep away your gadgets and turn off the TV when it is bedtime. Switch off your lights to make your room more conducive to sleep. Avoid consuming caffeine late in the afternoon or evening. If possible, stick to the same sleep schedule every night so your body can find its natural rhythm and settle into a regular sleep-wake cycle. These are some easy tips to help improve your sleeping pattern.
6. Don’t Be Too Hard on Yourself, Take “Me Time”
Caring for yourself once in a while should not hurt your weight loss goals. In fact, the pieces of evidence show that it is imperative for optimal health and well-being, especially for people who assume a caretaker role like healthcare workers and parents (14, 15).
Self-care does not need to be grand or too time-consuming. It can simply mean enjoying an extra hour of sleep during weekends, going for a walk in the park once weekly, or attending your favorite yoga whenever possible.
7. Cook Meals At Home
As mentioned earlier, choosing a healthier version of your favorite meals makes it easier for you to lose weight. The best way to ensure better food quality is to prepare and cook them at home. Research suggests that people who eat 5 or more home-cooked meals per week are 28% less likely to be overweight, compared to those who are eating fewer than 3 home-cooked meals weekly (16).
If you have a very busy schedule, this can be a challenge. But you can start small. Prepare one meal a day, then gradually increase the frequency over time until it becomes a habit.
8. Take Vacations
Spending more time outdoors can help improve help by reducing stress, uplifting mood, and even lowering blood pressure (17).
Taking breaks or vacations once in a while is a sustainable and healthy goal that can benefit nearly everyone. How about hiking or camping with family and friends on a weekend? If you cannot travel too far yet, why not simply soak in the beauty of a nearby park?
9. Limit Screen Time
We’ve mentioned earlier how gadgets can affect the quality of your sleep. But aside from keeping you entertained and awake in the wee hours, did you know that spending too much time on social media can actually increase your risk of anxiety, loneliness, and depression (18, 19, 20)?
Setting a resolution to limit the time you usually spend scrolling through Facebook and Instagram, watching TV, or playing games online may help boost your mood and enhance productivity, which is both essential for optimal health and weight loss.
10. Drink More Water
Water is always a very good beverage to drink. Not only does water nurture your metabolism, but it also helps you postpone meals. Quite a similar effect as snacks.
Have you ever thought you were hungry but then after you drank a glass of water, you felt like you could go a bit more without eating? That is because we sometimes mistake thirst for hunger. When we are properly hydrated, we are more mindful of the state of our bodies.
Water will always be better than soda or any other beverages such as juice. So make sure you consume water daily and in healthy amounts (21).
Making a commitment to try out this practice can be a good New Year’s resolution. There are several ways to meditate and you can easily find helpful guides in books and apps online.
12. Get Rid of Convenience or Fast Foods
How often do you take convenience or fast food, which includes cookies, chips, and frozen meals for a quick snack, lunch, or dinner? Though these items are readily available and may also be tasty, they can have detrimental effects on your health, especially if eaten regularly. Fast foods are associated with obesity and increased risks of heart disease and diabetes (24).
Make a commitment to limit your consumption of fast foods and cook more meals at home this New Year!
13. Shop for Your Groceries Wisely and Regularly
As mentioned earlier, many people make poor food choices because of limited options. So going to the supermarket regularly and stocking your fridge and pantry with healthy ingredients to prepare home-cooked meals and snacks is highly recommended.
Shop the perimeter of grocery stores as they would normally include the produce, dairy, meat, and fish sections. This is where you will see real foods instead of highly processed products. When you go shopping, try going straight to these sections and purchase from them only. If a product has more than a few ingredients on its label or the ones you are not familiar with, skip and don’t buy. This is a key step in transitioning your diet to whole foods.
Soon enough, your body and palate will get used to eating fresh veggies, fruits, grains, and proteins. You will get all the nutrients you need, so your cravings for unhealthy treats will start to disappear. It may take a few weeks, but eventually, it won’t taste the same for you!
Designate at least 1 day weekly as your grocery shopping day!
14. Plan Your Meals and Snacks Ahead
There is no better way to handle your cravings than planning your meals and snacks early. If you have a healthy meal or snacks packed and ready for you during lunch and in the afternoon, you are far less likely to order fries or pizza. You will reduce your susceptibility to being influenced by how food smells, their ads, and the conversations surrounding you daily.
Try planning out your weekly meals every Sunday or the day before your workweek starts. Shop for what you need. Prepare large batches of easy foods such as brown rice, beans, roasted veggies, or cold salads. Use suitable food containers, jars, or foil to pack up a good serving size, which you can easily grab early in the morning on your way out for school or work. Fruits such as apples, bananas, and oranges travel well, making them perfect for afternoon snacks.
15. Avoid Alcohol
Though occasional drinking may fit into a healthy diet, imbibing too often can hinder you from reaching your health and wellness goals (25). Cutting back on alcohol can be helpful. Set a reasonable goal to keep yourself on track. You can either set a drink limit per week or just unwind every other weekend.
Quitting cold turkey is nearly impossible. You can start by replacing your usual drink with fruit-infused sparkling water or kombucha.
16. Be More Mindful
Try to spend less time on your gadgets, start noticing your environment, and make more conversations with others. These are some of the simplest ways to be more mindful and present.
17. Stop Negative Body Talk
Talking negatively about yourself and your body can lead to feelings of shame. Studies show that engaging and hearing negative body talks is associated with low self-esteem and greater dissatisfaction. This is true in both men and women (28, 29, 30).
This new year, focus more on positive conversations. Engage in positive self-talk. Aside from improving your relationship with your own body, you can also encourage others to stop talking negatively about themselves.
18. Rethink Dieting
A crash diet is harmful to both physical and mental health. Also, many people who lose weight through a very strict program often regain up to two-thirds of what they have lost within a year (31, 32, 33, 34). Dieting also makes it more difficult for you to lose weight in the future.
Instead of planning to lose weight by using restrictive measures, go for a healthier and more sustainable method. Focus on increasing your physical activities and eat more produce.
19. Eat More Protein
Eating more protein will help keep you full and satisfied longer. This will reduce your cravings, curb your appetite, and keep you from overeating (35).
Increasing protein intake to 25% of calories can decrease your cravings by as much as 60%. Your desire to snack at night will also be reduced by 50% (36).
Making a commitment to eat high-protein breakfast regularly can greatly help lose more weight!
20. Start Writing A Weight Loss Journal
A weight loss journal can be very beneficial for your weight loss journey. With a journal, you can track what you on a daily basis. This allows you to find your weaknesses easily and then create appropriate strategies to help you replace those “bad” foods with healthier alternatives. You can also track your progress by adding your weight during each weigh-in session. This will help you realize if what you are doing is working for you and if any changes need to be made to your weight loss program to improve your results.
When you are exposed to all of these results, you will be able to find motivation in times where you feel like you are getting nowhere with your efforts to reduce your body weight. You can easily check-in to see how you are doing at any time and see the progress that you have already made.
Maintaining a weight loss journal is not time-consuming, even though some people may think that it is. In fact, when you do things the right way from the start, a weight loss journal can actually help to simplify things greatly, which can eventually help you save a significant amount of time.
Though many New Year’s resolutions are only kept for a short period of time, the healthy resolutions we have listed above are more sustainable and should help improve your overall health.
Creating a healthier relationship with food and taking good care of your body and mind can help improve your weight and general well-being.
Make this year and the years to come your healthiest and happiest!