Is 2017 the year that you get healthy? Don’t start by writing down “Get healthy!” as your New Year’s resolution.
Studies show that just 8% of people follow through on their New Year’s resolutions, and one of the big reasons is that their resolutions aren’t SMART.
SMART is an acronym that defines a goal you’ll really stick to. Here’s what those letters stand for:
“Get healthy” isn’t specific — you just generally want to be healthy. It’s not measurable, because you haven’t said how you’ll measure it. It might be attainable — who knows? It isn’t defined well enough to tell. It’s probably relevant to your larger goals and vision for your life. Who doesn’t want to be healthy? But it’s not timely because there’s no deadline.
Instead, try one or more of these SMART, healthy goals, and next year you’ll be healthier!
- Try one new fruit or vegetable each week. Just about 25% of us eat the recommended two cups of fruit each day, and only 13% have the two to three cups of veggies we need. If you’re having trouble reaching the standards with your favorite apples and carrots, try something new every time you go to the grocery store in 2017. You might love starfruit or jicama!
- Set a timer on your computer, phone, or watch for 20 minutes past each hour throughout the workday. Let it be your signal to get up and move. Check in with a colleague, get a glass of water, or just take a lap around the building. This will help with the unhealthy habit of sitting all day.
- Floss your teeth every day. Turns out this habit reduces bacteria that can lead to heart disease. Make it a family habit– by next year, you won’t be able to go to sleep without clean teeth and gums.
- Eat whole grains for breakfast. If you’re still choosing white bread for sandwiches and white rice at dinner, you might be able to get in the whole grain habit for breakfast. There are so many whole grain cereal choices that you’re bound to find one you like, and research shows that starting the day with oats or whole grain bread can help even out blood sugar.
- Give yourself a bedtime. Go to bed at the same time and get up at the same time and you’ll sleep better.Turn off screens a couple of hours before that bedtime and you’ll sleep even better. Scientists are finding more and more ways that good sleep leads to good health.
- Get outside every day if you can. Turns out this is a great habit for reducing stress. Here in Northwest Arkansas, we have plenty of beautiful outdoor spaces to enjoy in town and out. Take advantage of that!
- Cut one unhealthy food choice. The packaged food industry doesn’t like to hear any food called “unhealthy,” but we all know that soda and chips are different from fish and a salad. There’s probably one food or drink that you can stand to reduce or eliminate. Give up soda, limit fast food to a once a week treat, or replace vending machine fare with an apple.
- Drink a glass of water before each meal. This helps you stay hydrated, keeps you from overeating, and is the easiest New Year’s resolution you’ve ever made.
- Find a better way to cope with stress. Stress can be hard on your health, but the ways we cope with stress can be worse.Gobbling candy, smoking, yelling at people, drinking too much — if we’re honest, we know these are common ways to respond to stress None of them improves our quality of life. Healthier ways to combat stress: walking, yoga, prayer or meditation, dancing, talking with friends, or making something with our hands, to name a few. Keep this resolution SMART by building stress-busting activities into your daily schedule, or by promising yourswelf that every time you feel stressed, you’ll have a private dance party instead of reaching for the ice cream
- Use sunscreen daily. If you save it for beach days or time on the slopes, you’re racking up sun damage that can lead to skin cancer Get in the habit of putting on sunscreen daily and you’ll never find yourself out in the sun without it.