HAPPY NEW YEAR! Make this the year you and your family lead a healthier lifestyle. Here are a few tips, resources and motivational quotes to help make those New Year's Resolutions stick:
H - ealth
"The first wealth is health." (Source: Ralph Waldo Emerson)
Make health a priority this year. Health should be more than the absence of disease — read on for ideas.
A - ttitude
"Health and cheerfulness naturally beget each other." (Source: Joseph Addison)
A positive attitude may not cure a disease. However, thinking positive can help you deal with misfortune, make the most of your situation and enjoy life more.
P - hysical activity
"A man's health can be judged by which he takes two at a time - pills or stairs." (Source: Joan Welsh)
Physical activity helps improve health and fitness, maintain a healthy body weight and reduce the risk for several chronic diseases and conditions. Check these recommendations for different ages.
P - eople
"Love cures people - both the ones who give it and the ones who receive it..." (Source: Dr. Karl Menninger)
Numerous studies indicate social networks, whether formal (such as a church or social club) or informal (such as meeting with friends), make people less vulnerable to ill health and premature death. Be wary, however, of social support that drains you through people being too demanding or encouraging you to engage in harmful behaviors.
Y - our body
"Take care of your body. It's the only place you have to live." (Source: Jim Rohn)
Schedule physical checkups as needed: eyes, teeth, mammogram, colonoscopy, general physical, etc.
N - O!
"Half of the troubles of this life can be traced to saying yes too quickly and not saying no soon enough." (Source: Josh Billings)
Rather than adding "take a time management class" to your "to do" list, consider starting a "don't do" list. You may discover doing LESS can bring MORE enjoyment to your life. Especially if doing less allows you to spend time doing more to contribute to your health and happiness and that of family and friends!
E - at healthy
"Looking after my health today gives me a better hope for tomorrow." (Source: Anne Wilson Schaef)
According to MyPlate: A healthy eating routine is important at every stage of life and can have positive effects that add up over time. It's important to eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, protein foods, and dairy and fortified soy alternatives. When deciding what to eat or drink, choose options that are full of nutrients. Make every bite count.
W - isdom
"A wise man makes his own decisions, an ignorant man follows public opinion." (Source: Chinese Proverb)
Take time to listen to your own body. Rather than set your goals based on how fast other people walk or jog, how little sleep others can get by on or how much someone else eats, concentrate on what makes YOU healthy.
Y - our hands
"Keeping hands clean is one of the most important ways to prevent the spread of infection and illness." (Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
Here's how to wash your hands from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
- Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
- Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Be sure to lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
- Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the "Happy Birthday" song from beginning to end twice.
- Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
- Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.
E - nough sleep
"A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctor's book." (Source: Irish Proverb)
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a third of US adults report that they usually get less than the recommended amount of sleep. Not getting enough sleep is linked with many chronic diseases and conditions—such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and depression. Here are a few habits to improve your sleep:
- Be consistent. Go to bed at the same time each night and get up at the same time each morning, including on the weekends.
- Make sure your bedroom is quiet, dark, relaxing, and at a comfortable temperature.
- Remove electronic devices such as TVs, computers, and phones from the bedroom.
- Avoid large meals, caffeine, and alcohol before bedtime.
- Don't use tobacco.
- Get some exercise. Being physically active during the day can help you fall asleep more easily at night.
A - void portion distortion
"Never eat more than you can lift." (Source: Miss Piggy, Muppet character)
Rather than worry so much about "what" you eat, consider "how much" you eat. Downsize your portion sizes. Serve food on smaller plates. Eat from plates and bowls rather than packages and bags, so you see how much you're eating.
R - eading materials
"Be careful about reading health books. You may die of a misprint." (Source: Mark Twain)
Consider the source before starting a new drastic diet or exercise plan. Beware of plans that:
- Promise quick, dramatic results
- Charge large fees for consultations, equipment, supplements, etc.
- Rely solely on testimonials and statements from "professionals" with unusual-sounding degrees.
Here are a few more tips for a Healthy New Year:
Are You Getting Enough Sleep? Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Health Screenings, United States Department of Health and Human Services
Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (ODPHP) and United States Department of Health and Human Services
Serving and Portion Sizes: How Much Should I Eat? National Institute on Aging
What is MyPlate?, United States Department of Agriculture
This article was originally written by Alice Henneman. It was reviewed and updated in 2022.