Lose weight. Eat better. Exercise more.
Sound familiar? If you’ve made some or all of these popular New Year’s resolutions in the past, you probably ended up like the vast majority of Americans, who fail to make good on their January 1 pledges.
“When it comes to New Year’s resolutions, or any goals we set out, the key is in the specifics,” said OMRF President Stephen Prescott, M.D. “If you want to lose weight, you can’t just say, ‘I want to lose weight.’”
Broad goals, said Prescott, will leave you feeling overwhelmed. If a healthy 2010 is your aim, he recommends trying to map out small, tangible, one-day-at-a-time goals.
“Instead of a vague resolution like ‘get in better shape this year,’ reduce it to a concrete plan,” he said. “Pledge to exercise three times a week for at least 30 minutes.”
To improve your diet, resolve to eat at least one brightly colored vegetable at lunch and dinner each day. “Generally, the brighter the color, the more nutrients and antioxidants vegetables contain,” he said.
That means carrots and sweet potatoes for orange. Beets and tomatoes for red. Broccoli and spinach for green. “Not only will this boost your intake of vitamins and fiber, but it will help fill you up so that you’ll have less of an appetite for more calorie-rich foods.”
A great way to improve your health, said Prescott, is to get more sleep. “Adults who don’t get enough sleep are at higher risk for heart attack, stroke and obesity than those who are well rested. So a simple resolution for an earlier bedtime is the first step toward better health.”
He suggests picking a wake-up time, then working back at least seven hours. “That means if you want to get up at 6:00 a.m., you need to be asleep by 11:00 p.m. And to be asleep by 11:00 p.m., you probably should be in bed by 10:30 p.m.”
Finally, said Prescott, it’s important to limit your resolutions. “You have only a finite amount of willpower, so don’t stretch yourself too thin.”
Even making and keeping a single resolution is a big step. “If that one resolution turns out to be too easy this year,” said Prescott, “you can always add another one in 2011.”