If your exercise and healthy eating habits have been derailed this holiday season, it’s understandable. Schedules are busier, stress is higher and tempting sweets are everywhere.
New Year’s celebrations may bring more of the same, but you can still get back on track. Or maybe you can aim for a healthier lifestyle in 2023.
If you’re determined, that’s a great start.
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Many people make New Year’s resolutions this time of year, then abandon them after a month, said Stephen Moore, Extension educator for Ohio State University LiFEsports. If you want a healthy habit to stick, try setting some SMART goals, rather than making general resolutions. These types of goals are:
SMART goals can address any aspect of your life – wellness in emotional, health, social health, financial health or physical health, for example.
Start by writing down goals, then plan steps to achieve
To get started, write down your goals. Then figure out small steps you can take to achieve those goals. For example, “I want to improve my physical health is pretty broad,” Moore said.
Simple ways to get started on this goal include adding a few minutes of exercise every day (as simple as walking up or down stairs at work versus taking the elevator). You can make it fun by using an app to keep track of your steps
Other ways to achieve this goal are to drink more water; eating more fruits and vegetables; and making diet swaps such as exchanging Greek yogurt for sour cream in select dishes.
Moore recommended replacing foods higher in fat content with salads, fruits, vegetables and grains.
“The more colorful your diet, the better,” he said.
The US Department of Agriculture’s MyPlate guidelines encourage people to eat more fruits and vegetables, lean protein and whole grains, including advocating that people make half of the food on their plate fruits and vegetables.
Fruits, veggies, protein and whole grains help contribute to a feeling of fullness while providing the nutrients our bodies need. Filling up on those foods first might help you eat less of the other, richer foods that you might encounter later.
Small targets for big goal gains
In an OSU Extension Live Healthy Live Well blog, Megan Zwick, Family and Consumer Sciences program assistant for Washington County, wrote she is choosing a healthier lifestyle in the new year with some “smaller targets” to help her accomplish her goal. These include:
- Don’t buy soda for a month
- Go to the gym, take a walk or do physical activity three-four times a week.
- Write a journal entry three nights a week.
When you break down your resolution into smaller sections, it does not look as intimidating, she wrote. Some of her other tips were to dream big, commit yourself and learn from the past.
It’s also important to stay consistent, Moore said. Some days you might not achieve your objectives, he said, but it’s important to keep trying.
Here’s another great tip: Think of your health like it’s a savings account. Everything you put in builds up like compounding interest in your account. Even if you only start by exercising 10 minutes a day, you’ll be healthier by this time next year.
Think about what works for you and what area of wellness you would like to improve. Start small and aim high. Happy New Year!
Laurie Sidle is a Family and Consumer Sciences and 4-H program assistant for OSU Extension and may be reached at 330-264-8722 or firstname.lastname@example.org.