While New Year’s resolutions may look a little different this year, some common goals will continue — stop smoking, improve finances, eat and prepare healthy meals, exercise more, achieve a healthy weight and get enough sleep – to mention a few.
The key is to not treat your resolutions as temporary goals, and to start by making small changes that you can continue to apply to your life all year long.
First, focus on nutrient rich foods: 1) Brightly colored fruits and 100% fruit juice 2) Vibrant-colored vegetables 3) Whole, fiber-rich grains 4) Fat free and low fat milk, cheese and yogurt 5) Lean meats, skinless poultry, fish, eggs, beans and nuts. MyPlate is a great visual to illustrate meal by meal what your plate should look like. Eating a healthy diet is also essential to maintaining a healthy immune system which is especially important right now.
Ask yourself “Does my plate look like this? What’s in my glass at mealtime? Are there food groups commonly missing? Which ones?” Print a copy of MyPlate and put it on your refrigerator as a reminder when making breakfast, preparing dinner, grabbing a snack or making your grocery list. You can also find a variety of resources, including sample menus and recipes, healthy eating on a budget and daily food plans. When stocking your kitchen, make the healthy choice the easy choice: fruit on the counter, yogurt in the refrigerator, whole grain cereal in the pantry – you get the idea!
Daily life activities count as physical activities! Chores around the house, climbing stairs, washing the car, yard work and walking the dog are some good examples. According to the Physical Activity Alliance, it is recommended that children and adolescents (ages 6-17) get 60 minutes or more of moderate to vigorous physical activity daily and adults (ages 18-64) should do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity per week, plus 2 days a week of muscle strengthening activity.
From active play to routine exercise regimens or walking a trail at a local park, the bottom line is to take the time, turn off the screens and move more every day. Choose the activity you like to do and you will begin to look forward to this part of your day. And an added bonus — some of the benefits you might find with regular exercise include sleeping better, more energy, increased strength and endurance. Remember to always check with your doctor first before beginning an exercise program.
The key to achieving a healthy weight is making changes in your eating and physical activity habits that you can keep up for the rest of your life, not just temporarily. A good place to start is the MyPlate app, which you can find at www.choosemyplate.gov — it helps you choose daily food goals, see real-time progress and earn fun badges along the way.
The first changes you can make are to start your day with breakfast, add daily physical activity and watch your portion sizes. When it comes to portion sizes, ask yourself “Do I have 8-oz glasses, 9-10 inch dinner plates and 1/2 – 1 cup size bowls in my cupboards?” Our portion sizes tend to grow with the size of our plates, glasses and bowls. Remember that extra weight did not appear overnight, so it won’t disappear overnight either. Slow and gradual weight changes can help you to learn new habits!
Mark the start of this new year with safe and healthy routines that can carry over into the next year and beyond. Happy New Year!