Making New Year’s resolutions is easy, but keeping them? That’s another story.
If you’re hoping to make a resolution this year you can actually keep, try focusing on quality rather than quantity. In other words, instead of picking multiple resolutions, focus instead on one or two resolutions—clear, strong ones that will have a significant impact on your life and health.
1. Quit smoking.
This one might seem obvious, but there’s a reason for it—approximately 37.8 million American adults are still regular smokers, and more than 16 million Americans are living with a smoking-related disease. As any smoker knows, nicotine is highly addictive, and quitting is easier said than done. But there are a number of options for quitters, and the Mayo Clinic has a solid overview of them.
2. Eat healthy.
It’s hard not to indulge a little over the holidays, so it’s no wonder many people start off the New Year with a diet. But diets, and crash diets especially, can be difficult to follow (and easy to drop), so we recommend focusing on eating healthy, high-quality foods rather than restricting yourself to a rigid diet or completely eliminating certain foods or ingredients. Try to incorporate fruits and vegetables into every meal, limit animal products, and avoid sugars, fats, and processed foods as much as possible.
3. Develop an exercise routine.
Exercise doesn’t just give you a sense of accomplishment and increase your endorphins—It can lengthen your life expectancy, repair heart disease, and decrease your risk of getting cancer.
Experts recommend three to five hours of moderate physical activity (something that gets your heart rate up and makes you sweat) each week, or about 30-45 minutes a day, as well as two or three strength training weekly sessions.
4. Keep track of your BMI.
Your body mass index is your weight-to-height ratio and can be a good indicator of whether or not you’re overweight. Calculate your BMI and try to get to (and maintain) the “normal” range of 18.5-24.9.
5. Drink in moderation.
Some studies suggest drinking any amount of alcohol increases your cancer risk, while others show some alcohol consumption can help prevent cardiovascular disease. Either way, if you enjoy drinking, try to do so in moderation, which the CDC defines as up to 1 drink per day for women and up to 2 drinks per day for men.
Referred to as “intensive lifestyle change” by researchers, these resolutions may collectively seem prohibitively difficult. Try focusing on just one or two at a time, and remember that overall, each on its own will make a positive impact on your life—for this year and many to come.