Work out an hour a day! Lose 20 pounds! Stop eating cookies! These may sound like some of the overly-ambitious promises you make at the start of every year, only to break a few weeks later. Get-healthy goals are good, but only if you can actually keep them.
Here at Nutrisystem, our mission is to make healthy living easier. We want you to succeed at this. (Just look at all those smiling faces below, eager to help you make this your best year yet!). And this year, to help you get off to a successful start, we’re dishing out 10 New Year’s resolutions to consider making in 2020. They’re realistic and achievable, so you won’t abandon them in a month. Plus, they’ll help jumpstart your journey toward a happier, healthier you.
1. Aim to drop one to two pounds a week.
Evidence shows you’re more likely to keep the weight off when you lose it slowly and steadily, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). And as you work toward your ultimate goal, your effort along the way does your body good: Even a modest weight loss, such as five percent of your total body weight, can help improve blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels. [If you weigh 200 pounds, a five-percent weight loss equals 10 pounds.]
2. Walk more.
You’ve heard it a million times, and for good reason: It’s safe for most people, low-impact and requires nothing more than a pair of supportive shoes. Walking helps manage your weight, strengthen your body, and boost your mood; do it regularly and research suggests you’re likely to live longer. Begin with a slow stroll, for just a few minutes a day; then gradually build up your time and pace to the recommended 150 weekly minutes at a moderate-intensity. Break that up into small chunks if that’s more doable for you: Three, 10-minute brisk walks a day, five days a week.
3. Do body weight exercises.
Lunges, push-ups, crunches and squats: These equipment-free moves are a great way to add strength training to your routine; in fact, “back to basics” body weight training is predicted to be a top fitness trend of 2017, according to a survey by the American College of Sports Medicine. Regular strength training helps build lean muscle mass so you burn calories more efficiently; it also helps strengthen bones, manage your weight and sharpen thinking skills.
4. Add veggies to every meal.
That’s one way to help meet your “eat healthier” goal. Vegetables are low in calories, high in filling fiber and loaded with nutrients that may help reduce your risk of disease. And while you’re pretty good about getting some greens on your dinner plate, don’t skimp on other meals: In the morning, add spinach to an omelet or try smashed avocado on whole wheat toast; pile a lunch sandwich high with extra fixings (tomatoes, cucumbers, avocado) or use lettuce as a wrap (instead of bread); and during snack time, munch on carrots dipped in hummus or blend frozen broccoli or cauliflower into a fruit smoothie.
5. Practice deep breathing.
It’s one of the simplest and most effective ways to start meditating. Find a quiet spot, get in a comfortable position and focus all your attention on feeling and listening as you slowly inhale through your nostrils for a count of three, then exhale. Try placing your hand right below you navel so you can feel your belly rise and fall. Spending even a few minutes a day in meditation can help reduce stress and ease anxiety.
6. Sip water throughout the day.
Research has shown even mild dehydration can sap energy, reduce your ability to concentrate and negatively affect your mood. Plus, scientists from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign found people who drank one, two or three more cups of water a day cut calories and reduced their consumption of saturated fat, sugar, sodium and cholesterol. One guideline we like at Nutrisystem is to drink a half ounce of water for every pound of weight you weigh (so divide your weight in half and drink that many ounces of water per day).
7. Schedule a physical.
Regular health exams can help find problems before they start, or earlier when your chances for treatment and cure are better, says the CDC. Talk to your doctor about what screenings or exams you may need, and when you need them. To make the most of your visit, compile your medical history, bring along any medications (including vitamins and supplements), prep a list of questions ahead of time, be specific with any symptoms you may be experiencing, and be honest so your doctor can better assess you.
8. Make time to volunteer.
When people contribute to their community or an organization they are passionate about, they lead happier lives, have lower rates of depression, and may even live a little longer than those who do not volunteer, according to a research review of more than 50 studies. Think about causes that are important to you, and research groups that deal with those issues. Also consider what you have to offer: if you love building or outdoor work, or have a knack for teaching kids, look for opportunities where you can use your skills.
9. Pace your drinks.
Especially around the holidays, all that toasting and cheersing could lead to one too many cocktails. One drink a day for women, two for men is considered light to moderate, and may even help protect against heart disease. But heavy drinking (more than three drinks on any day or more than seven per week; for men, more than four on any day or more than 14 per week) can actually hurt your heart and your liver, as well as raise your risk of depression and certain cancers, according to research. To help keep consumption under control at a party, pace yourself to no more than one alcoholic beverage per hour. Sip slowly, and space them out by making every other a non-alcoholic drink, such as water, soda or juice. Also, don’t drink on an empty stomach—alcohol is absorbed more slowly with food in your belly. And throughout the year, keep a drink diary: Note each drink before you drink it—on a card in your wallet, in a note on your smart phone, on your kitchen calendar, or wherever works for you. It may help you slow down, and shed light on any potential problem.
10. Set a bed-time alarm.
As odd as that may sound, the most important sleep strategy is to stick to a schedule—go to bed at the time every night, get up at the same time every morning. So set an alert to ring about a half hour before you plan to hit the sack to give you time to wind down, power off the laptop, put down the smart phone and get ready for bed. When you get into a regular sleep rhythm, you get better quality and more sound rest.