With a new year approaching, you may be setting goals to better yourself.
New Year’s resolutions run the gamut, from getting organized to improving relationships, but the No. 1 resolution Americans make is to get fit and healthy, according to Nielsen surveys.
You probably know from experience meeting goals is difficult, and the reason is often because people set vague goals, such as “lose weight,” as opposed to specific goals, such as “eat treats only on Saturdays.” Research shows setting specific goals is more likely to lead to success.
To help you reach your goal of a healthy lifestyle, here are five New Year’s resolutions you can actually keep.
Add a vegetable
Instead of deciding to eat healthier, make a specific goal of adding a vegetable you like to dinner. For example, if you like broccoli and green beans, don’t buy brussels sprouts, Keep your freezer stocked (you can also buy fresh, if you know you’ll cook it), and heat a portion every evening. Either eat the veggies first or fill half your plate with tasty greens.
If you don’t like most vegetables, start with one that doesn’t disgust you, and flavor it with salt, pepper or your favorite spice. Eventually, you may be able to eat it alone, as research suggests your brain can learn to like healthy foods.
Exercise for 15 minutes
Implementing a workout program is tough, so start small. Buying a gym pass alone will not get you in shape so, instead, wake up 15 minutes earlier every morning to go for a walk or take a short bike ride before dinner.
Pick a time, and set an alarm on your phone, so it’s a scheduled part of your day. If you want to do something new without spending a lot of money on equipment, consider a 30-day challenge for yoga, aerobics, running or another exercise you want to try. The email or text reminders add encouragement, and short workouts mean you are more likely to do them.
Drinking water helps you keep a normal temperature, lubricate and cushion your joints, protect your spinal cord and other tissues and get rid of wastes through urination, perspiration and bowel movements, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Researchers have found drinking water before meals could help you eat less and lose weight, another common New Year’s resolution. The amount of water you need will vary, and the CDC points out most healthy people can get enough by drinking with meals and when thirsty.
Make your goal specific by carrying a water bottle, choosing water instead of soda or juice when eating out, and adding a lemon or lime wedge for flavor.
Cut meat one day a week
You may want to be a vegetarian or vegan, or you may want to cut just some meat from your diet to improve your health. Whatever your ultimate goal, take it one step at a time. Participate in Meatless Mondays by cutting meat one day a week (on Monday or any day that works for you). You could also go meatless for one dinner a week or the full weekend.
Whatever you choose, stay successful by preparing plant based food that tastes good and satisfies your appetite.
Spend 10 minutes alone
Spending time alone helps you unwind and improves concentration and productivity, among other benefits, writes psychologist Sherrie Bourg Carter. Set aside 10 minutes a day, just as you would with exercising, to help yourself follow through. Fill that time with something you like to do that calms you, whether it be completing a crossword puzzle, reading a book, meditating or sitting quietly.
Increase the time gradually, until you find yourself relaxing for a satisfying period without interfering with your responsibilities.