Every year Americans make New Year’s resolutions to lose weight, eat healthier and move more. But, for many people those resolutions don’t last more than a month or two into the New Year. As you start 2015, think positively about your health and set measurable and attainable goals for the year.
Sharon Haynes, a regional health and nutrition agent with Alabama Extension, offers some tips for a Healthy Happy New Year in 2015. Following these tips will give you a head start for making healthy choices throughout the year.
Health – Make health a priority this year. Health should be about preventive measures and more than the absence of disease. Whether you realize it or not, your health is your number one asset.
Attitude – A positive attitude may not cure a disease. However, thinking positive can help you deal with misfortune, make the most of your situation and help you enjoy life more.
Physical activity – The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend that everyone engage in regular physical activity for health benefits.
People – Numerous studies indicate social networks, whether formal (such as a church or social club) or informal, such as meeting with friends, make people less vulnerable to ill health and premature death. Be wary, however, of social support that drains you through people being too demanding or encouraging you to engage in harmful behaviors.
Your body – Who knows your body better than you? Show your body some love by scheduling a general physical exam at least once a year and other checkups such as: vision, dental, mammogram, colonoscopy, etc. as needed.
NO! – Rather than adding “take a time management class” to your “to do” list, consider starting a “don’t do” list. You may discover doing LESS can bring MORE enjoyment to your life. Especially if doing less allows you to spend time doing more to contribute to your health and happiness and that of family and friends!
Eat healthy – To move to a healthier weight; make smart choices from every food group. Smart choices are the foods with the lowest amounts of solid fats, added sugars and sodium: for example, fat-free (skim) milk instead of whole milk, unsweetened rather than sweetened applesauce and purchasing “reduced sodium, low-sodium or no-salt added” products. Also, consider how the food was prepared. For example, choose skinless baked chicken instead of fried chicken, choose fresh fruit instead of a fruit pastry and using little or no salt when cooking or eating.
Wisdom – Take time to listen to your own body. Rather than set your goals based on how fast other people walk or jog, how little sleep others can get by on or how much someone else eats, concentrate on what makes YOU healthy.
Your hands – Keeping hands clean is one of the most important ways to prevent the spread of infection and illness according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Here’s how to wash your hands with soap and water from the CDC.
- Wet your hands with clean running water and apply soap. Use warm water if it is available.
- Rub hands together to make a lather and scrub all surfaces.
- Continue rubbing hands for 15-20 seconds. Need a timer? Imagine singing “Happy Birthday” twice through to a friend.
- Rinse hands well under running water.
- Dry your hands using a paper towel or air dryer. If possible, use your paper towel to turn off the faucet.
Enough sleep – According to a “Sleep in America” poll by the National Sleep Foundation (NSF):
- The number of people reporting sleep problems has increased 13 percent since 2001. The number of Americans who sleep less than six hours a night jumped from 13 percent to 20 percent, and those who reported sleeping eight hours or more dropped from 38 percent to 28 percent.
- Lack of sleep is creating a major public safety problem as well—drowsy driving . One poll found that more than one-half of adults (54percent) – potentially 110 million licensed drivers– have driven when drowsy at least once in the past year. Nearly one-third of drivers polled (28 percent) say that they have nodded off or fallen asleep while driving a vehicle
- Skimping on sleep can wreak havoc with your system, from causing you to gain weight to shortening your lifespan. Sleep affects weight, blood glucose levels, immunity, heart health and memory. The next time someone teases you for sleeping in, tell them you’re increasing your longevity.
Avoid portion distortion – Rather than worry so much about what you eat, consider how much you eat. Downsize your portion sizes. Serve food on smaller plates. Eat from plates and bowls rather than packages and bags, so you see how much you’re eating. To minimize a second or third helping temptation, serve food on individual plates, instead of putting the serving dishes on the table. Keeping the excess food out of reach may discourage overeating.
Reading materials – Consider the source before starting a new drastic diet or exercise plan. Beware of plans that:
- Promise quick, dramatic results
- Charge large fees for consultations, equipment, supplements, etc.
- Rely solely on testimonials and statements from professionals with unusual-sounding degrees.
- Remember, not all weight lost products or supplements that you read about are approved by the Food and Drug Administration .