Top 10 Resolutions Starting Today

The end of the year is personally my favorite time of year. I love the holidays, the traditions, the music, the food and the excuse to spend time with friends and family. I also enjoy the opportunity to reflect on the events throughout the year and to create resolutions for the upcoming year. Creating resolutions is exciting because it makes me feel empowered to make a positive change in my life and the lives of others. However, like a lot of people, I oftentimes create resolutions that are too difficult to achieve or maintain. As a result, I lose motivation to carry out my resolutions and I end up forgetting about them altogether. This year, I’ve decided to choose resolutions that are manageable and sustainable throughout the entire year and beyond. Also, I’ve decided to begin mine before January 1st. I want to start making a meaningful change now rather than waiting until a specific day on the calendar. I’ve created the following Healthy Anytime Resolution List to help inspire you to develop some healthy lifestyle resolutions this year. It is my hope that one or more will inspire you this holiday season and into the new year.

1) Energize with breakfast

I want to begin with this resolution because it is so, so important. Breakfast is the most overlooked and unappreciated meal of the day, but it deserves to be at the top of this list. Eating breakfast increases focus throughout the day and gives us energy to perform daily tasks. How can we expect to perform our best throughout the day if we’re not fueling our bodies with energy via food each morning? Make it a habit to start the day off on the right track by eating breakfast.

2) Make it a habit to hydrate

Although its cold outside and we aren’t sweating like we were in the hot summer months, it’s still just as important to drink plenty of water. Drinking water helps keep our skin hydrated, relieves constipation and promotes our body’s natural detoxification process. To keep things interesting, try adding freshly squeezed lemon juice or berries to your water to add some exciting flavor. A great way to tell if you’re drinking enough water is by simply looking at the color of your pee. Yes, I went there. If your urine is light yellow or clear, you have confirmation that you’re staying well hydrated.

3) Spice it up! Save the salt!

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends consuming no more than 2,300 mg of sodium each day. Although salt undeniably makes food taste great, it’s not the only way to season food. To reduce sodium, try experimenting with one or more of the numerous herbs and spices to add unique and delicious flavors to your favorite dishes. Try adding basil or rosemary to chicken, dill to potatoes or even coriander and oregano to steak. I promise that if you start swapping out salt for different herbs and spices your taste buds and blood pressure will thank you.

4) Free radical round up

Free radicals are unstable molecules that our bodies naturally produce and also take in via pollutants in the environment. These molecules can damage our DNA, accelerate the aging process and make us more susceptible to certain diseases. Antioxidants are the good guys that normalize free radicals in our bodies. Try these awesome antioxidant options like kale, berries, oranges, pomegranates, dark chocolate and green tea.

5) Slash the sweet stuff

Hot chocolate, eggnog, sweetened coffee, juices, sodas and alcoholic beverages all seem to inevitably make their way into our mouths during the holidays. While these drinks taste great, it’s important to be aware that these drinks contain an enormous amount of sugar. Sugar adds quite a few calories to our diets that can easily converts to fat. While it’s probably impossible to avoid all sweetened beverages during the holiday season, it may be a good idea to limit the quantity we consume. Another tip is to swap out your favorite drinks for their “diet”, “sugar-free” or “lower sugar” counterparts. This can help shed a few extra pounds and keep our blood sugars stable throughout the holidays and into the new year.

6) Eat out smart

It seems that each year we are busier and busier and the holiday season tends to be the busiest time of year. As a result, we eat many of our meals away from home. While eating out may be inevitable, it doesn’t have to be unhealthy. Undeniably, there are many unhealthy food choices at fast food restaurants, gas stations and sit down restaurants, however many food places have done a great job expanding their healthy options. Look for lean meats such as chicken, turkey and fish and side items like vegetables, sweet potato fries or brown rice. Also, be on the lookout for healthy buzz words such as “roasted”, “steamed”, “baked”, or “grilled”. Or, eat what you like, just keep it small.

7) Look out for portion distortion

During the holidays, it’s quite easy to overfill our plates and snack on many cookies, chocolates and candies. It’s okay to indulge in holiday foods, however it’s important to be aware of our portion sizes. The best option, if possible or available is to choose a smaller plate. However, if not then try this. When loading your plate at a holiday party, try taking smaller portions of each food item and getting seconds later if you’re still hungry. Throughout the year, become aware of the serving sizes on the nutrition facts label of all packaged food items. If possible, stick with eating just one serving at a time. This will help manage weight and trains our eye to become accustomed to appropriate portion sizes.

8) Fall in love with movement

Regular physical activity is so vital for our health and wellbeing. It reduces stress, lowers blood pressure, increases energy levels and promotes a healthy body weight among other things. Although these benefits sound great, most people dread the word “exercise”. It is oftentimes associated with stepping into an overcrowded gym filled with an endless amount of lifeless treadmills. It’s possible to create a fun fitness routine without setting foot in a gym if that’s what you prefer. Instead, go dance, hike, bike, horseback ride, walk your dog or anything that gets you moving. The key is to choose a physical activity that you enjoy and that you can maintain.

9) Ways to unwind

Whether it’s yoga, meditation, walking at a nearby park, reading a good book, it’s crucial for our health to find a way that helps us relax and unwind. Stress can contribute to high blood pressure, heart disease, sleep disturbances, anxiety, fatigue, GI discomforts, etc. Make it a habit to take time each day to participate in something that you enjoy that helps bring down your stress levels.

10) Practice positivity

Learning to appreciate and love yourself is one of the most important mindsets you can develop. So many of us spend time each day criticizing ourselves or putting ourselves down. It’s time to end the negative self-talk that we endure day after day. It’s time to truly love ourselves and accept all of our flaws and imperfections and focus on what makes us special and worthy of love. One way to practice self-love is by repeating positive affirmation statements to yourself throughout the day. Say things to like, “I matter”, “I am worthy” or “I am special.” Hopefully these statements will help put an end to the exhausting negativity and help you on your way to fully loving yourself this year.

Blog by Julie Winter, Emory Dietetic Intern

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