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Top New Year's Resolution Alternatives
Resolution #1: Lose Weight
This is the top resolution Americans make each year. It's a great one since losing weight helps reduce a plethora of preventable diseases but losing 20 lbs. a month is a tall order for most of us. Why not try one of these easier alternatives?
- Make one healthy eating choice each month: Maybe you can try a smoothie for breakfast for a month, drink a glass of water before each meal or take lunch to work. Mix it up and see what works for you.
- Make different food choices: Do some foods make you feel bloated or sluggish? Keep a food diary for a week or two and see if eliminating trigger foods (such as gluten, sugar or red meat) make you feel more energetic or less chubby.
- Eliminate a poor food choice: What is your weakness? Drive-thru donuts? Double-latte frappuccinos? Too many weekend brewskis? Drop one thing for a month and see what it does to your waistline.
Need to eat less meat?
Resolution #2: Exercise!
Statistics show that gym memberships jump as high in January as the little Asian acrobat in Ocean's Eleven. Sadly, almost 20 percent don't continue attending by the beginning of March and 80 percent quit within five months. However, most doctors agree: Exercise is the best medicine if you want a long life. Here's how to make your most important resolution live as long as you do.
- Start small. If you haven't been to the gym since high school, start with a smaller resolution and avoid the flood of January gym rats. Commit to taking more steps during the day by parking further away from the entrance of the grocery store, always taking the stairs for three flights or less, or adding in a 10-minute walk before work or during lunch.
- Go slow. Trying to commit to an hour of cardio and strength-training six days a week can quickly turn your vision of six-pack abs into sore days spent staring at the boob tube while balancing a bowl of chips on your kegger stomach. To keep a steady pace, learn from the turtle. Start with two days a week of exercise and build from there. Build up your endurance slowly and increase your cardio as you get more fit. That way, you'll have a better chance of keeping up the pace until next December
- Enlist technology. That phone in your hand is pretty handy for keeping track of steps taken and calories burned as well as keeping you connected to your 1,000+ (mostly sedentary) friends on Facebook. Download an app that will keep you accountable for the minimum requirements you set for yourself (10,000 steps a day, anyone?)
- Walk the dog. Pet owners statistically walk more steps than cat-haters. A 10-minute run through the park is more than just a small step for mankind, it benefits your pet as well. (OK, maybe not your cat.)
A pet can help you take more steps each day
Which is more important to you this year?
Resolution #3: Quit or Start Something
Do you have a habit you wish you could quit? Have you tried over and over, only to fail for the 367th time? Or, perhaps you want to start doing something that you've promised yourself you'd do, only to get to year-end and find it still waiting in your to-do box. Welcome to the human race! But that's what's so crazy great about a new day, new year or new century! You get a do-over! Make this year YOUR year of accomplishment.
- Take a day off. Most of us can do anything for a short period. If quitting is your thing, start with slowing down and just take one day off from doing that thing. Tell yourself you can do it tomorrow if you want. Like the slogan says, One Day at a Time.
- Plan for it. Just thinking about doing something pleasurable sends pleasurable endorphins cascading through your brain. If you want to start doing something (running, painting, calling your mother more often) start by planning for it. Buy something that will make your endeavor easier or just think about the details that go into making it a success.
- Get accountable. It much easier to stick to something when you know someone else is going to ask you about it later. Find someone who will be committed to asking you about your resolution (or, better yet, who will do it with you!) without being judgmental, critical, or nagging (yes, better to not enlist the help of your wife!)
- Take it easy. Shame is a motivational killer. If you blow it, don't kick yourself. Go as easy on yourself as you would with a child learning a new skill. Use soothing words, such as, "It's OK. I gave it a shot. I'll try again tomorrow," or "Wow! Look at you giving it your best effort! Keep up the great work and you'll soon be a pro!"