Well, shoot, it’s that time of year again when we take stock of where we are and where we want to be 12 months from now. And with that often comes the dreaded New Year’s Resolutions. Have you ever thought, “What’s the point? I’m not going to keep them, so why make them in the first place?” Sure. We’ve all been there.
What makes resolutions so hard to keep? We often make the mistake of resolving to do things that are just too hard to accomplish and we give up quickly because the goal is out of reach. So instead of vowing to lose 20 pounds over the next 3 months or make well-balanced delicious meals for the family every night, be realistic.
Make a pledge to cook more meals at home and eat out less. At home you have better control over ingredient quality, freshness, portion size, and calories. Restaurant food and processed foods often contain too much fat and way too much sodium. Cooking at home is also less expensive and better for the environment.
Or how about cutting down on soda? This is my personal goal. The average teenager drinks 1-3 cans of soda a day. Soda replaces more nutritious choices and is bad for bones and teeth. Juice is almost as bad – it’s full of sugar. And even diet soda has a lot of acid, which can erode your teeth. Drinking too many soda and juice often replaces the milk and water that children should be drinking and puts them at risk for developing obesity, diabetes, cavities and osteoporosis. Limit both soda and juice to no more than one a day.
Okay, but not all resolutions have to revolve around eating and food. There are other lifestyle changes you can make that will bring you good health in 2014. Here are a few suggestions:
- Limit technology. We’ve been saying this for a long time now, but it’s only getting worse, right? With all the technology around us, it is really easy to spend 3 to 4 hours in front of a screen every day and that increases the risk of obesity and reduces quality time with family and friends. Parents should set a good example by keeping track of screen time, setting limits, keeping screens out of kid bedrooms, and don’t use screen time as a reward. Also make a point of having technology free days.
- If you can’t get rid of the technology, put it to relaxing use. My new obsession is to listen to books “on tape” (not really on tape but on my digital notebook). I allows me to escape my worries and enter a world of fantasy without falling asleep like I do when I try to read in bed.
- Spending time with animals isn’t just fun, there are real health benefits too. We just got a new puppy and he has infused our home with so much energy that we can’t help burning more calories chasing him around and taking him for walks. Being around animals can reduce stress and anxiety. Dogs also promote exercise and opportunities to socialize. Pets can also decrease your blood pressure, and your cholesterol and triglyceride levels. And pet owners do better after a heart attack than non-pet owners.
- Get physical…a physical exam, that is. When’s the last time you had your blood pressure checked? Time to get take a look under the hood and make sure everything’s running as it should. It’s not just physical health you should check up on – mental health is important too. I know it may be harder said than done to get an appointment with a mental health professional, but at least talk to your primary care doctor if you have concerns about depression.
- Clean out your closets. Ugh. Nothing I hate more than tackling the staggering mess that threatens to topple every time I open the closet door, but it sure does feel good when you can finally see the floors. It will get your heart pumping and give you mental satisfaction in the end. Then you can move on to the garage…
Wishing you and yours all the best in 2014 and let’s touch base again about your 2015 resolutions a year from now!
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