December 28, 2018
It’s a new year, and a perfect time to focus on a new you, or at least new habits. But with every new endeavor, there’s another voice in your head talking you out of those better choices. To help combat the likely temptations you'll face, we’re sharing three easy, actionable resolutions and ways to help you keep them throughout the year.
You may start out the new year with good intentions. But chances are, you’ve fallen into the large percentage of people who don’t achieve their New Year’s goals. In fact, research from the University of Scranton states that as few as 8 percent of people actually attain those lofty goals set at the beginning of each year.1
How can you break out of that funk and beat the statistics? First, you’ll need to set actionable goals that are a challenge for you personally, yet easy enough to attain. Not sure where to start? We've got several empowering resolutions that’ll help to boost your hydration levels, monitor your food intake, and up your physical activity.
3 Resolutions to Practice This Year
1. Double Your Water Intake
Every cell, bodily system, joint, and organ relies on proper hydration. However, proper hydration is not as easy as saying you need to drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water every day. Your individual hydration levels may depend on different factors like age, gender, weight, climate, activity level, and overall health. But to break it down even further, at a minimum, women should aim to drink about 90 ounces of water daily, while men should get about 125 ounces. Interestingly enough, though, only about 80 percent of that water intake comes from fluids! The other twenty percent comes from the foods you consume.2
An actionable resolution this year could be to (at the very least) double the amount of water you’re currently drinking every day. This can be a multi-faceted goal, too. Keep a notepad or sticky note at work that tracks how many times you’ve filled up your bottle at the watercooler. When you’re home, reach for a tall glass of water (and if you need it with a little zest, toss in some fresh strawberries or lemon for some added flavor). There’s even smart phone apps, like “Daily Water – Drink Reminder,” that help you track just how much water you’re drinking each day (and alert you when you need to replenish).3 By increasing the amount of water you’re taking in every day, you’re helping your overall health in the long run – and it’s an attainable goal that you can keep throughout the year. Just make sure you consult with your physician before drastically increasing how much water you drink daily. Certain health conditions like congestive heart failure and kidney failure, for example, may limit how much water you can safely consume.
2. Practice Mindful Eating
Mindful eating has deep-seated roots in Buddhist concepts, but it’s a practice that can be easily done every time you chow down. Instead of rushing through your meal – no matter how hungry you are – sit down and enjoy your food. This is two-fold, though. First things first, slow down and savor each and every bite. You can practice this by eating slowly and focusing on how full the food makes you feel. If you’re enjoying a solo meal, you can also eliminate distractions, like your phone or the TV, and instead eat in silence. It’ll make your meal last longer and enrich your food experience by engaging your senses with new sounds, smells, tastes, and textures.4
At the same time, mindful eating means just that – being mindful of when it’s mealtime. Mindless eating in front of the computer or TV screen, in the car on your next road trip, or at your work desk may lead to overeating. And snacking in between meals can have mixed results. While it might satiate your hunger pangs, it’s also added substance and calories that you might not need, especially if it’s high-calorie, processed food. Be aware of each and every bite you’re taking, not just for the flavor and experience, but for the mental benefit of knowing you’re satisfying your hunger with purposeful bites of substance. Having trouble determining if it’s mindless eating or a needed meal or snack? Ask yourself why you need to eat – what’s your motivator? Is it because there’s food available, because you’re emotional about something, or because of the social environment you’re in? If your answer is yes, then you may want to pause and wait for the right reasons – when you’re truly hungry at a mealtime.
This can be an easy, attainable goal that you start by practicing during one meal a day. Take time to enjoy and appreciate your bites, and savor in the slow meal. You might just find that you eat less, or get more out of that delicious, yet small, morsel.
Did You Know? It can take your brain up to 20 minutes to realize it’s full.4 By taking your time with each bite – making sure it’s not a mindless, automatic action – you can curb your hunger before you overindulge.
3. Increase Your Daily Physical Activity
This one might sound pretty standard, but it’s a resolution you can practice every single day while at work or home. Next time you head to work, consider parking farther back in the parking lot and take the stairs instead of the elevator. Those extra steps add up and help to get your blood pumping in the morning. And while you’re mentally or physically tracking your water consumption from your first goal, remember that each trip to the water station adds to your daily movement and activity. At home, try to squeeze in a 20 to 30 minute walk each day. It doesn’t have to be outdoors, either. If the weather is a hindrance, find an indoor gym, play an exercise video, or make the most of your space – even if that means taking several trips down the hall or up flights of stairs. Again, that added movement gets the blood pumping and gives your metabolism an extra boost.
You may be wondering if those extra steps really make a difference. According to Harvard Medical School researchers, a regular daily walk has links to reducing obesity-producing effects of 32 different genes in the body.5 Beyond the physical benefits, though, are the mental ones. Instead of focusing on the stress or annoyance of walking, revel in that quiet time you have to yourself. It may even improve your anxiety or depression symptoms.5 Before beginning any new exercise routine, though, consult with your physician or healthcare provider.
Fail Proof Your Resolutions
It’s not an easy task to develop and implement lifestyle changes. To help you succeed, here are a few steps you can take to ease the transition.
Don’t Set Yourself Up for Failure
- Manage your expectations and don’t set them too high. This includes weight loss expectations, workout schedules, or weekly salad quotas. Whatever your goal is, don’t make it unattainable or unrealistic. By setting smaller, reachable goals, you will not only produce results, but boost your confidence and self-esteem as you meet your milestones. After you start, if you find that you're hitting your goals easily and want more of a challenge, then increase the difficulty of your goal.
Don’t Be Too Hard on Yourself
- If your resolutions start to get overwhelming, don't turn to your normal comforts that may have adverse effects. You’ve chosen to commit to a new lifestyle and it's an ongoing commitment to work toward your resolutions, so cut yourself some slack if you slip up or slide down a bit.
Think About Your Long-term Goals
- When you get discouraged or when temptation rears its ugly head, think about the big picture. Remember why you’ve made these lifestyle changes and how much better you’ll feel once you achieve your goals. This might be as simple as taking a step back, closing your eyes, taking a deep breath and re-centering. It also may entail some time to think about where you started and where you hope to get one day.
- Keep your goals top of mind. And bonus – there’s no right or wrong way to do this. It might mean setting reminders in your phone, posting sticky notes to your desk, counter space, or vanity mirror with your goals and quick notes of encouragement. It could also mean having a vocal support group that pushes you along the way. Find an accountability and encouragement method that works best for you to help keep your resolutions a priority.
New Year's resolutions? You've got this. By setting attainable goals as you head into the new year, you’re putting yourself in a better position to achieve your goals.
1 Forbes: Just 8 Percent of People Achieve Their New Year’s Resolutions. Last updated January 1, 2013. Accessed November 13, 2018.
2 The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine: Dietary Reference Intakes: Water, Potassium, Sodium, Chloride, and Sulfate. Last updated February 11, 2004. Accessed November 13, 2018.
3 iTunes: Daily Water – Drink Reminder. Accessed November 13, 2018.
4 Healthline: Mindful Eating 101 – A Beginner’s Guide. Last updated January 15, 2016. Accessed November 13, 2018.
5 Organics: 8 Incredible Health Benefits of Walking Just 30 Minutes Daily. Accessed November 13, 2018.