• By Julie Stefanski
  • In 2020
  • January 1, 2020

A New Take on Resolutions

 By Rosanne Rust, MS, RDN, LDN

It’s just seems natural to be reflective this time of year. To think about what you’ve accomplished, and where you’ll go in the future. Resolutions that focus on diet, however, are not about a single big goal for the new year. They should be about making lasting changes in yourself or your lifestyle, for the purpose of staying healthy.

Now. Later. All year long.

After a few weeks of indulging in special food and drink, your body probably welcomes lightening up. Instead of making huge goals or adopting a drastic diet, gradually change the things that impact your health long-term. Healthy eating and exercise is part of this equation, but it’s much more. Look at my list here and think about setting a few goals. Take it one week at a time and check your progress along the way.

 

Don’t Smoke

  • Smoking takes a huge toll on your arteries and your heart. Find a way quit. Enlist a friend or family member for support.
  • Talk to your doctor about a smoking cessation class

Eat Less

  • You can still enjoy your favorite foods. Consciously take smaller portions of the foods that you know aren’t the healthiest.
  • If you’re over 45, it’s especially time to reduce the portion sizes of everything you eat and drink.
  • Carbohydrates like bread or pasta aren’t “bad”, but they are easy to over-consume. Track your servings. Two slices of bread or one cup of pasta is two servings. Set a goal to include just 5 servings a day of these types of foods.
  • Limit saturated fats like butter, lard, animal fats, processed meats and high fat cheeses. Choose fresh cuts of lean beef and pork, skinless poultry, and more fish instead of high fat meats.

Eat More Plants

  • Plants are medicinal. Fruits, vegetables, and grains contain fiber, antioxidants and phytochemicals that help our bodies stay well. They won’t cure us, but they’ll help keep us as healthy as we can be.
  • Find new recipes to add delicious dishes into your plan. Sheet pan or one-pan meals are a quick and easy way to add veggies and grains into meals every week
  • Cooking doesn’t have to be complicated and using beans, bagged salads, frozen or pre-packed veggies, makes it easy to throw a meal together.

Move More Every Day

  • Find ways to move more during your regular day. Not exercise, just movement. Walk farther, do more housework. Take your phone calls standing or pacing. Stretch while you are on speaker phone. Walk or bike to the neighbors instead of driving. Take the stairs.
  • Exercise has proven health benefits. It will help keep your metabolism humming, maintain or reduce weight, and improve your mood and productivity.
  • Schedule gym days or find an exercise class. Many find they’ll get to the gym more regularly if they enlist a friend to go with. If you’re short on time, even 10-15 minutes helps. Try a short walk, or some floor exercises in the morning or evening.

Drink Less Alcohol

  • Excessive alcohol intake causes a number of health issues, including cirrhosis, high blood pressure, heart disease.
  • If you do drink, do so responsibly, use the moderation guidelines of 1 drink a day for women, and 1-2 for men.
  • Drink more water

Stress Less

  • You can’t control everything that happens to you or your loved ones, but you can control how you choose to deal with it.
  • Find a support system or talk to your doctor if you are having a really hard time.
  • Try deep breathing exercises when you are feeling anxious.
  • Exercise regularly.

Enjoy More

  • Don’t think in terms  of what you can’t or shouldn’t eat. Frame it as trying new foods that taste good and are good for you. Enjoy smaller portions of satisfying food.
  • Take the clutter away. What are you doing in your life that really doesn’t give you any joy at all? Remove it if possible and use that time to enjoy some exercise in the fresh air, or another stress-reducing hobby.

Invest in Your Health

  • Don’t wait for your health insurance plan to schedule a visit with a dietitian or get support from an online coach. Make a call yourself. Most plans will cover it, and some may require a doctor’s referral, but the support is available. Sometimes it may only take one or two visits to set up an individualized nutrition plan.
  • Value good nutrition. Eating right really can help you stay healthier. While I can make the argument that healthy food does not have to cost a lot, I also can tell you that sometimes it is worth paying more for your groceries.

 

Accept Slow Progress and Maintenance

  • If weight loss is your goal, remind yourself that losing weight is difficult, and keeping it off is even more difficult. It’s a lifelong endeavor.
  • Keep the focus on healthy goals. Keep in mind that maintaining your weight is part of a “weight loss program”. You won’t be “losing” every week, all the time.
  • If you hit a “plateau”, that is not a failure. Hang on. Keep eating well, don’t skip your exercise or gym time.

Don’t Quit in February

  • All the good food you’re eating? The days at the gym? Keep it up!
  • This is where a nutrition counselor can come in – for follow up and ongoing support. Almost everyone needs support to stick to it, and help removing barriers.
  • When you set small goals, they’re doable all year.
  • Set just two goals a month that focus on eating more vegetables, moving more, adding exercise, and then keep it up all year.

Reward Yourself

  • If you’ve not had a cigarette for the whole month of January – take yourself to the movies!
  • If you’ve increased your fruit and vegetable intake, buy yourself a small gift or a new kitchen utensil that helps you create healthy meals.
  • If you’ve exercise three times every single week, buy yourself a new pair of athletic shoes or a new work-out top.

Rosanne is a freelance writer and owner of Rust Nutrition Services (www.rustnutrition.com) where she provides nutrition communication services to the food industry and science-based-medicine organizations. Follow her on social media @rustnutrition or @chewthefacts or contact her at her website http://www.rustnutrition.com