Making resolutions for the new year is a delightful pastime, even if you discard them soon afterwards. At the beginning of a new year, the ancient Babylonians promised to return all borrowed items, and to pay their taxes.
Here are 5 productive goals that can help you have a healthier and happier year.
1. Lose Weight
According to recent statistics, 35.1% of Americans over the age of 20 are obese. The percent of those overweight, including obesity, comes to 69.0%. You can determine if you are overweight by calculating your Body Mass Index (BMI). This measures your relative weight based on an individual’s mass and height. Overweight is when your waist size measures from 25 to 29 inches; obesity is a BMI of 30 or more. Energy balance is important in maintaining a healthy weight, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, Bethesda, Maryland. The amount of energy/calories you get from food and drinks (energy IN) is balanced with the energy your body uses for breathing, digesting, etc. (energy OUT). The same amount of energy IN and energy OUT over time means your weight remains the same. More energy IN than OUT equals weight gain. More energy OUT than IN, over time, equals weight loss.
To achieve that goal:
a. Follow a healthy diet. If overweight, reduce your daily calorie intake by 500 calories.
b. Be physically active.
c. Limit your time being inactive.
2. Exercise More
Since trips to the gym can be intimidating, there are many other ways to benefit from regular exercise. Here is why exercise is important, according to the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota.
a. Controls weight.
b. Improves mood and makes you more relaxed.
c. Combats serious illnesses.
d. Improves muscle strength and boosts endurance.
e, Helps you fall asleep faster.
f. Boosts your sex life.
Here are some excellent ways to exercise, reported the Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts.
a. Swimming. Since it is less weight-bearing, it is especially useful for arthritis.
b. Tai Chi. It is good for both mind and body.
c. Strength training. It makes your muscle stronger. Start light with just 1 or 2 pounds.
d. Walking. Just head out the door in comfortable shoes. Start with l0 or 15 minutes, and gradually build
e. Kugel exercises. They strengthen the pelvic muscles that support the bladder. This helps to
control urination and avoid passing gas.
3. Quit Smoking
Smoking is responsible for various types of cancer, chronic respiratory diseases, heart disease, and premature death, according to Medical Lexicon International, Bexhill-on-the-Sea, United Kingdom.
Of the 2.4 million deaths in the United States each year, 440,000 are due to smoking. Tobacco use claims the lives of 100,000 in Britain annually. Smoking costs the U.S. approximately $92 billion in lost productivity each year, and the average smoker dies 10 years earlier than a non-smoker. Every time you resist an urge to smoke, you are closer to quitting “cold turkey.” Here are some ideal ways of stopping, reported the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota.
a. Try nicotine replacement therapy.
b.. Avoid triggers. If you usually smoke while on the phone, keep a pencil and paper handy and doodle
c. Delay. If you crave a smoke, Wait 10 or 15 minutes and do something to distract yourself.
d. Chew on it. Instead of a smoke, chew on sugarless gum, hard candy, etc.
e. Don’t “Just Have One.” Usually having one leads to another. Try to avoid the urge.
4. Cut Back on Salt and Sugar
Since sodium/salt is so ubiquitous in the diet, the mineral accumulates in the body; it holds onto water to dilute the sodium; this increases the amount of fluid surrounding the cells, and the volume of blood in the bloodstream, according to the Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts. This increased blood volume means more work for the heart, and more pressure on blood vessels, which can contribute to high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke. Most experts suggest that we restrict our sodium intake to 1,500 milligrams per day, which is equivalent to 3.75 grams or 3 to 4 teaspoons. Do not exceed 2,300 milligrams daily, or 6 grams. The average American consumes about 3,400 milligrams of sodium daily, mostly from processed foods. To balance the sodium, eat more potassium-rich foods.
The average American consumes 22.2 teaspoons of sugar daily, which means 335 nutrition-poor calories, according to the Cleveland Clinic, Ohio. Women should limit consumption of added sugars to about 6 teaspoons or 100 calories. For men, consume 9 teaspoons or 160 calories. A 12-ounce soft drink contains 8 teaspoons of sugar. Sugar disturbs your metabolism, and increases your risk of diabetes and heart disease. While sugar substitutes save calories, they may not be effective in long-term weight and appetite control. Corn syrup/sugar is one of the worst ingredients on the plant. Since it is inexpensive, manufacturers use it liberally.
5. Feel Good About Yourself
Make 2015 a banner year by feeling better about yourself. Here are ways to do that, according to Barton Goldsmith, Ph.D., in Psychology Today.
a. Don’t let life changes throw you off track, so challenge your energies in a positive way.
b. Believe in your inner resources. You are smart enough to know what to do.
c. The world is not out to get you. You can do that to yourself. Focus on other opportunities or on another direction.
d. Dismiss negative thoughts. Stay open to other ideas that can help you move in a positive direction.
e. Believe in your own strengths. After all, you have survived worse.
f. Change how you feel about yourself by creating a new strategy, gathering new tools, and moving on.
g. Don’t live beyond your means and covet the unattainable.
h. Don’t get insulted. Just consider the source.
i. The most successful people have dealt with disappointment, but have learned to move on.
There are many possible resolutions, such as how to be a better person; how to contribute more to charity; how to drink less; etc. But, with your goals in mind, make the new year a joyful and productive one.
References: “Why Is a Healthy Weight Important,” National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; undated. “5 of the Best Exercise You Can Ever Do,” Harvard Medical School, Sept. 20, 2014. “Health and Fitness,” Mayo Clinic; 2014. “Quitting Smoking,” Mayo Clinic; 2014. “Health Risks and Diseases,” Harvard School of Public Health; undated. Ohlson, Melissa, R.D. “Eating Too Much Sugar? Tame Your Sweet Tooth,” Cleveland Clinic, Apr. 25, 2014. Goldsmith, Barton, Ph.D. “10 Ways to Feel Better About Yourself,” Psychology Today, Mar. 11, 2011.