There’s something about a new year that drives us to wipe the slate clean, put our bad habits behind us, and start fresh. We look back at the resolutions we managed to keep and those that eluded us, and we make promises to take better care of ourselves in the upcoming year. I’m a big fan of resolutions – as long as they’re reasonable. Resolutions don’t do you much good if they’re abandoned before Valentine’s Day. You want to focus on the changes you can practice every day – since they’re more likely to stick with you – and also on the ones that give you the most bang for your buck. So here is my list of the top 10 best resolutions for a healthier 2012.
1. Eat breakfast. Breakfast eaters are more likely to maintain a healthy weight. And breakfast will also help keep you clear-headed all morning. Your brain needs fuel after an overnight fast.
2. Move more. Aside from your regular exercise, try to work more activity into your day. Take the stairs, walk or bike to run errands, pace the floor while you’re on the phone, and walk to a co-worker’s office instead of e-mailing.
3. Don’t eat in front of a screen. Whether it’s a computer, TV or movie screen, when you’re eating in front of it, you’re not focusing on your food – you’re likely to end up eating more, and enjoying it less.
4. Stop eating on the run. This means eating in the car, when you’re walking down the street running errands, or while you’re getting dressed in the morning. Take time to sit down, focus on your meal, and enjoy.
5. Watch the liquid calories. Unless your liquid is a meal in itself, fluids should be calorie-free as often as possible. Get most of your calories from foods, not beverages – it’s one of the easiest ways to cut out excess calories.
6. Stay hydrated. Many of the body’s processes rely on water, but plenty of people don’t drink enough. Keep water or tea near you and sip throughout the day.
7. Include protein every time you eat. Protein satisfies hunger better than fats or carbs. Have some at every meal, and grab foods like yogurt, nuts, high protein cereals, shakes, string cheese or single-serve cans of tuna for snacks.
8. Have a fruit or vegetable at every meal. Fruits and veggies give you the most nutrition for the fewest calories. And, they’re full of water and fiber, which means they fill you up – not out.
9. Don’t skip meals. Skipping meals rarely works as a calorie-control measure – you’ll just end up making up for it at the next meal. Eating small meals and snacks every few hours is a better strategy.
10. Pump some iron. Strength training exercise burns calories, can perk up your mood, and it helps to keep your bones strong. It also helps you build muscle mass which makes you stronger, and can ultimately increase your resting metabolic rate.
Written by Susan Bowerman, MS, RD, CSSD. Susan is a paid consultant for Herbalife.