Tips for a Healthy New Year

Vow to treat yourself to good health this year. Eating nutritious foods and getting regular physical activity may improve your health, boost your energy level, and help you feel good about yourself. These six simple tips may help you eat better, be more physically active, and enjoy a healthier new year.

Hang up old habits. Before you plunge into making resolutions that may be too tough to keep, it may help to examine your current eating and physical activity habits. Rather than trying to overhaul your routine, start by thinking of gradual ways to tweak it. You may wish to slowly replace some of your less healthful habits like overeating or eating when not hungry with healthy ones that you enjoy. Ask yourself where, when, and why you have those unhealthy eating or physical activity habits, and think of creative replacements for them.

Eat smart. A healthy eating plan takes into account what and how much you eat and drink. Emphasize vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and lean meats and fish in your diet, and minimize foods that are high in saturated and trans fats, sugar, and sodium. Be mindful of portion sizes, too. Forget Mom’s advice to clean your plate at all times. Instead, listen to your body and eat just enough to satisfy your hunger.

Activate yourself. Regular physical activity is fun, invigorating, and important for good health. Aim for 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity on most days of the week. If you cannot do it all at once, break it up into shorter segments. Nearly everyone has time for 10 minutes of activity here and there throughout the day. Select activities that you enjoy—you will be more likely to stick with it.

Look for support. Enlist friends, family, and coworkers to join you in eating well and being active. Social support is a terrific motivator. People are more likely to be physically active if they are held accountable to someone else, and if your social circles agree to make healthier selections, it may be easier for you to jump on the bandwagon. Encouragement from others often makes it easier to stay on track.

Tailor your lifestyle to the season. Take advantage of seasonal offerings to avoid falling into a rut. In the winter, stock up on produce such as sweet potatoes, rhubarb, and cranberries. Enjoy physical activities like ice skating and walking in the crisp air. When spring arrives, try produce such as strawberries and sugar snap peas, and step outdoors to garden or bike. Continue to mix up your routine throughout the year—the variety may keep you motivated.

Hatch a plan. Set goals for yourself, such as getting 30 minutes of activity a day and eating whole grains when possible, and be sure to set rewards as well. You may find it easier to meet your goals if you have a plan. This may be especially helpful when you face potential barriers like traveling or parties. By creatively planning ahead, you can keep up your healthy ways.

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