With the holiday season upon us, and a new year soon to come, you may be considering resolutions for 2014. Before you make large, lofty goals for the new year, remember that real change happens when small habits change. Here are six resolutions you can make to improve your health one day at a time.
1. Drink more water. The average person doesn’t drink the amount of water his or her body needs to function properly. Women should drink at least nine cups of water a day; men should drink at least 13. Try keeping a water jug or bottle with you at all times to drink throughout the day when you are thirsty. Pop is dehydrating, so try to avoid it. If you drink pop regularly, try replacing just one cup or can a day with water until you are able to remove it from your diet.
2. Find everyday ways to exercise. If you’re new to exercise, use a simple plan to get started. I recommend that you start where you are the most. At work, park a few spaces farther away from the entrance, increasing your walk to the building little by little. Take the steps instead of the elevator, gradually increasing the number of floors you can climb.
3. Slowly change your eating habits. Before making changes, consider your current diet. Track the foods and amounts that you normally eat, and make small changes from there. Try to cut just one food from your diet at a time; add one serving of fruits and vegetables to your daily diet; or stop eating at 9 p.m. Remember, it’s OK to reward yourself with your favorites every now and then. Everything in moderation!
4. Cut back on television. The television is one of the biggest barriers to healthy living, especially in the winter, when it’s easy to hibernate. The average American watches more than four hours of television each day. Aim for no more than two hours each day, and try to cut back even more if you can. Explore new hobbies and talents, such as cards or crafts, or spend quality time with your family.
5. Make a plan to quit smoking. Don’t wait for New Year’s Day to quit smoking. In fact, those who quit cold turkey have the highest chance of returning to the habit. Talk with your doctor about available medications, take a smoking cessation class or cut out one cigarette each week.
6. See your doctor regularly. Prevention is an important part of keeping healthy. Visit your doctor at least once each year for routine exams and immunizations, and to discuss potential health issues. Don’t wait until there is a real problem to build a relationship with your doctor.
As tempting as New Year’s resolutions are, remember that change doesn’t happen over night. Start with where you are and make change happen one small step at a time. And don’t worry if you make a mistake. Every day is a new day; choose to make it a healthier one.