With New Year’s Eve just around the corner, you’re probably already thinking of things you wanted but didn’t manage to achieve in the previous year. Well, now you have the chance to make these things happen. Since a great portion of the population is trying to lose* weight and live healthier (one-third according to the CDC), you’re probably also thinking of ways to make weight loss* happen. Making a good diet and exercise resolution may be exactly what you need to keep yourself motivated in the following year. To get a better picture of what you should be doing to become and stay healthy, here are 15 of the best diet and exercise New Year’s Resolutions you too can make.
1. Include Healthier Options to Your Meals
With so many things that we need to juggle in life, staying on a healthy eating regimen can be hard. After all, it’s easier to order a takeaway after a long day of running errands than making your own meals at home. But this year, promise yourself to stick to healthy meal options and include nutritious snacks during your working hours. Instead of ordering deep fried foods for dinner, make a quick dinner such as this pomegranate chicken with almond couscous. Instead of munching on a chocolate bar during mid-day crashes, enjoy a granola or cereal bar instead. The goal is to simply make healthier food choices without thinking too much about the calories.
2. Exercise Once a Week
If you are not used to exercising regularly, then setting small goals may be a better option than thinking big in terms of what exercise routine you want to establish. Exercising just once a week at a moderate intensity may be all you need according to a study published in the Journal of the Medical Association of Thailand. This study found that moderate-intensity training for 12 weeks was enough to improve* overall fitness levels in otherwise sedentary individuals. The study also found that this type of routine made it easier for these individuals to stick to their workout. Since most sedentary folks find it hard to stick to a routine simply because they’re not used to so much exhaustion, setting smaller goals may be your best bet.
3. Eat Fish Once a Week
Fish and other seafood is healthy for so many reasons. Fish is high in omega-3 fatty acids that we need for normal brain functioning and for cardiovascular health. Fish is also high in protein but low in saturated fat making it a perfect diet option for weight loss*. Studies also show that intake of broiled and baked fish is a much healthier option to reduce* your risk of stroke than eating fried fish. Make a promise to include fish to your diet at least once a week. In this way, you’ll be eating enough omega-3 fatty acids and even iodine. Iodine is an important compound for normal thyroid functioning. A deficiency in this nutrient could lead to hypothyroidism, a condition that can cause weight gain among other things.
4. Stick To High-Intensity Intermittent Exercise (HIIE)
If your goal is to lose* weight in the year to come, then you may consider trying out HIIE at least once or twice a week. This type of exercising involves brief sprinting at a high intensity, followed by moderate exercising. Studies on this form of exercising found that it was most efficient in fat burning and muscle building at the same time. What’s best about this type of exercising is that it only requires a couple of minutes of your time and you can do the exercise from home. However, if you combine HIIE with moderate aerobic exercising, you’ll achieve the best health and weight-loss results that are sure to make you feel good about yourself once the year is over.
5. Drink More Fluids
You’re probably already drinking less water than you should be and this could lead to chronic low-grade dehydration. Dehydration makes you feel tired, it makes your mind fuzzy, and it has a negative effect on your digestion. If you want to stay healthy in the next year, make it a must to keep your fluid intake at optimal levels. The usual recommendation is around 2 liters a day, but this depends on your activity levels and food intake. When you exercise and during hot summer days, you’ll probably need to drink more than that. And make sure that the fluids you are drinking are healthy. Soft and sugary drinks are too high in calories from sugar and they can easily cause weight gain.
6. Fight Emotional Eating
If you are an emotional eater who likes to control anxiety by munching and snacking on treats*, then you already know where the problem lies. Emotional eating is hard to control, and instead of fighting your urges, you may want to dig deeper into your coping mechanisms. To control your emotional eating, helpguide.org suggests to find different outlets for when you’re feeling stressed and depressed. Call a friend, go brisk walking, watch a comedy show, or take a long relaxing bath to wind down. These activities will make you feel much better than eating your emotional pain away that can only make you feel guilty.
7. Make Your Meals Colorful
Making your meals more colorful by including more fruits and vegetables is an easy way to stick to healthy eating. Green leafy vegetables, carotene-rich roots, colorful beans, and other plant-based options need to be a part of every meal you eat if you want to stay healthy and fit. Studies on vegetable-based diets show that they’re associated with a reduced* risk of disease and excessive weight gain. While you don’t have to cut our meat and dairy from your diet, do make sure to not make these foods at the top of the foods you eat. These foods may be tasty and satiating, but when taken in high amounts, they can lead to weight gain, increased risk of cancer, and cardiovascular disease among other things.
8. Forget Your Temptation
If you have a sweet tooth, then you may be eating more calories a day than you should be. The average dessert has over 250 calories, and when you eat more of these sweets during a day, you know you are going overboard with your food intake. Make a promise to yourself that you won’t become tempted to indulge in just that one chocolate brownie, or that little scoop of ice-cream every time you have dinner out or spend some time at the mall. If you really want to satisfy your sugar cravings, try an apple instead or a banana. Fruit is rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals and very low in calories – the perfect combo for a healthy eating plan.
9. Become More Active
When life hits you with too many work and social obligations, it can really feel like you are missing out in life in other departments. The result is not spending enough of your free time being active and social. Make a promise that you won’t let life take the best of you and become more active next year. Go for afternoon walks, spend more time in nature on the weekends, hang out with friends, visit your family more often. All these activities are bound to keep you feel and be more fit. They can also help improve* your mental health. Studies show that higher levels of physical activity help prevent depression relapse and increase* overall levels of well-being.
10. Establish a Sleep Hygiene
Although people don’t usually think about the importance of sleep when speaking of diet and fitness, sleep is actually a great part of this healthy lifestyle triad. If you don’t get your beauty sleep, all your diet and exercising efforts will be in vain. The CDC reports that at least one-quarter of the general population don’t get enough sleep, and if you belong to this group – make sure to get out of this bad habit. Sleeping for at least 8 hours a day by establishing a sleeping routine will improve* your metabolism functioning, increase* your energy levels, improve* your overall health, and increase* mental alertness. To do just that, go to bed at the same time every night, avoid heavy meals before bedtime, don’t spend time online before bed, and avoid staying up late on the weekends.
11. Try Fasting
Intermittent fasting is a new fad diet that studies actually found helped with weight management and improved* overall health. The diet involves not eating anything from 12 to 24 hours and ending the fast with a moderate meal. For instance, you can eat dinner one day and on the next, skip breakfast, lunch and eat a normal dinner to break the fast. Doing this once a week will improve* your blood lipids, insulin functioning, and gut health. On top of that, fasting in general is associated with longevity and a reduced* risk of cancer. If you can make it a habit to fast for at least a couple of hours every or every other week, then you’ll be doing something really good for your health.
12. Stay Away From Screens
You get home from work and the first thing you do is become a couch potato. Sure, all you want to do is forget about the stressful day, but you’re really not doing your body or your mind any good. Staring at TV and computer screens for long hours means that your body won’t get the chance to shed extra calories, and research even shows that late-night screen staring significantly disrupts sleep quality. Not having good quality sleep can disrupt your metabolism functioning and easily lead to weight gain. In addition to this, insufficient sleep leads to overeating and less effective workout. As you can tell, you have plenty reasons to limit your time spent in front of screens and make sure to make it a habit the next year to do more productive things with your time for better health and fitness.
13. Go for a Checkup
Paying a visit to your doctor and asking for general health screening is a great way to become proactive about your health. Not everyone is in the habit of screening for diseases which is unfortunate because many diseases can easily be controlled and prevented with regular checkups. Endocrine disorders, cardiovascular disease, precancerous growths, and STDs are treatable when discovered early on. If you happen to suffer from a disease unknowingly, the disease can make it harder for you to achieve your fitness goals and can even make your overall health worse.
14. Make Time to Relax
Stress is the number one cause of many disease states. Gaining control over your stress levels is important if you want to stay healthy and fit because studies show that cortisol, which is the primary stress hormone, leads to abdominal weight gain. Promise yourself that you won’t let life’s challenges get the best of you and make sure to find a way to manage your stress. Yoga, meditation, walking, and herbal anxiolytics are great natural ways to keep your stress response under check.
15. Make the Experience Enjoyable
You have a full year ahead of you to reach your fitness and weight-loss goals so why not enjoy the experience while you are at it. After all, if you enjoy what you do, chances are that sticking to these changes will be easier for you. Eat food that are healthy, but that you like. Exercise when you really feel like it and choose an exercise routine that you find enjoyable. Spend more time doing activities that are fun and you’re more likely to achieve whatever it is that you want.
With the New Year approaching, we’re all making plans to make next year different. Many of us make health, diet, and fitness a priority when it comes to lifestyle changes. If you’re in this bunch, make sure to follow these diet and fitness tips and we’re sure that next year will be much better in terms of your fitness and overall satisfaction with your health and looks.
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