Every year, over 40 percent of Americans make New Year’s resolutions (for example: lose weight, get active, quit smoking). However, research from the University of Scranton found that only eight percent of individuals are successful (University of Scranton, Journal of Clinical Psychology)! Many people start strong, but quit by February. So let’s make this year different! Don’t just set a New Year’s resolution, make 2017 the healthiest year for you by making small changes and creating healthy lifestyle habits. Here are some healthy changes you can make to start your year off right and keep it going all year long!
1. Eat right
Start the year off by incorporating plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins into your diet. Avoid or limit processed foods with added sugars and fats. Eating right can not only help you be healthy but also help you feel good for 2017!
2. Try a new food or recipe
Break out of your normal routine and try something new! Adding variety to your diet is not only exciting but has many other benefits as well. It can improve your nutrition and add more flavors to your food, set a good example for family and friends, and expand your choices. Take the challenge of trying a new food or recipe each month.
3. Meal plan
Take time each week to plan healthy meals and snacks. Find recipes, use the Choose MyPlate guidelines to help you choose healthy foods, and write down the meals you want to make for each week. Planning ahead can help you feel organized and help you stay on track with healthy eating.
4. Drink more water
Switch up your beverages from those high-calorie, sugary beverages to water! Water quenches thirst, and has no calories or sugar. Not a fan of water? Try creating your own flavored waters with real fruits and vegetables — like strawberry lemon, cucumber, or apple and cinnamon. Flavors are endless, and they are better for you!
5. Sit less and move more
Research has shown that extended sitting can lead to many health problems. In fact, experts have coined the phrase “sitting is the new smoking.” In 2017, take a stand — literally! By moving more, you will make a profound impact on your health.
Want to feel better, have more energy, and be stronger? Exercise!!! The American College of Sports Medicine recommends 30 minutes of moderately intense exercise, five days per week. The options for exercise are endless! Find activities that you like to do and that 30 minutes will fly by. Like to dance? Try a Zumba class! Hate being inside? Go for a hike outside!
7. Go for an adventure
Try a new Zumba class, go rock climbing, adventure on a lake with a paddleboard, or sign-up for an obstacle race. Try something new that gets you moving and motivated in the new year!
8. Sweet dreams
Getting seven to nine hours of sleep each night can improve memory, boost creativity, lower stress, strengthen the immune system, help with weight loss, and even extend your life span. Get those ZZZs in tonight to benefit tomorrow!
9. Take a deep breath
Stress can do a lot of damage to our health — physically, mentally, and emotionally! And while we may not be able to control the stressful event or situation, we can control how our body reacts. Try taking three to five deep breaths to help lower your stress levels.
10. Be positive
Believe it or not, positive thinking has beneficial effects on your health: increased life span, lower rates of depression and distress, better coping skills to stress, and even reduced risk of illness. To reap the rewards, stay positive! Find an optimistic viewpoint in a negative situation, surround yourself with a positive environment, and practice positive self-talk by being kind and encouraging to yourself. For example, instead of saying, “I’ve never done this before,” try, “It’s an opportunity for me to learn something new.”
11. Stay healthy
Take charge of your health by staying up to date with your preventive care! Follow up with your primary care doctor at least once a year and have all recommended screenings and immunizations.
12. Take time for yourself
Many of us are so busy running from one place to the next without slowing down, leaving us feeling more tired and drained each day. Take some time that you need to slow down, relax, and recharge to enjoy life. Whether it’s a small 10-minute walk or treating yourself to a spa day, make plans with yourself and make it a priority!
13. Be mindful
Being mindful can help you stay positive and feel less stress. Stay in the moment and give your full attention to what is going on around you. See everything. Hear all the noises. Smell the scents. Ground yourself in that moment. These small mindful moments can make a positive impact each day.
14. Build your support network
Social support can be an invaluable tool — having family, friends, and peers you can turn to can also help you cope with difficult situations, improve self-esteem, and strengthen your health. Start building your social network by creating new friendships or improving on existing relationships. Whether you are receiving support or helping another, you will reap many rewards!
15. Imagine your ideal self
What is the best and healthiest version of yourself? Five years down the road, what do you want your health to look like? Whether it is reducing your risk for chronic disease, getting off your blood pressure medicine, or being able to walk for 30 minutes, knowing your wellness vision can help you take steps toward that healthier version of you!
16. Work with a health coach
A UPMC Health Plan health coach can help you get healthy in 2017. With programs and resources in weight management, stress management, nutrition, physical activity, and tobacco cessation, a health coach can provide support and accountability while working on your healthy lifestyle goals!
17. Set SMART goals
Set yourself up for success in 2017 by setting SMART goals. SMART goals help you break down the general, long-term goals into smaller, more realistic goals that work toward your overall vision. By having a specific plan that is measurable and realistic, you are more likely to achieve your goals.
Start 2017 off the healthy way! Whether you want to lose weight, get more active, or just be healthier, remember that small changes make a big difference!