Resolve to be a better you

Make healthy resolutions

The tradition of making New Year’s resolutions can be traced back to the ancient Babylonians, who promised their gods that they would repay their debts and return borrowed items in the new year. While resolutions have changed since then, people still see the dawn of a new year as an opportunity to commit to doing something good in the months ahead.

No rules govern New Year’s resolutions, but many people resolve to do something healthy. The following are just a few resolution ideas for people who want to make 2016 as healthy as possible.

• Lose weight. A January 2015 survey from Nielsen found that 32 percent of U.S. consumers resolved to lose weight in the new year. That should come as no surprise, as New Year’s Day marks an end to the holiday season, when many people pack on pounds thanks to holiday dinners, parties and the baked goods that seem to find their way into homes and offices throughout December. Seventy-six percent of participants in the Nielsen survey said they did not follow a weight loss or diet program in 2014, which might explain why so many felt a need to lose weight in 2015. If you resolve to lose weight in the new year, do so with the assistance of your physician, who can offer useful advice on diet and exercise.

• Bike to work. Depending on how close your home is to your office, consider riding a bike to work instead of driving into the office every

Riding a bike to work instead of driving is a great way to get healthy in the new year.

Riding a bike to work instead of driving is a great way to get healthy in the new year.

day. Riding a bicycle is great cardiovascular exercise, which is a critical part of any successful exercise regimen. But riding a bike to work also benefits the environment by making the air you breathe cleaner. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that roughly half of all U.S. residents live within five miles of their workplace, which provides a great opportunity for commuters to reduce total household emissions, all while having fun on their bicycles. If 50 percent of American workers chose to bike rather than drive to work each day, total household emissions could be cut by as much as 6 percent. Biking to work also saves commuters money on fuel.

• Work less. Work is good for the mind and body, but too much work can lead to elevated levels of stress. Stress can produce a host of negative consequences, including an increased risk for depression, obesity and heart disease. Long hours at the office is one of the leading causes of work-related stress, and many professionals find themselves taking on more than they can reasonably handle. Make an effort to scale back your responsibilities and spend less time at the office.

• Reduce alcohol consumption. Reducing alcohol consumption is another healthy resolution for the new year. Excessive alcohol consumption can do a number on the human body. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism notes that overconsumption of alcohol can affect the heart (increasing the risk for cardiomyopathy, arrhythmia, stroke, and high blood pressure), liver (fibrosis, cirrhosis, alcoholic hepatitis), pancreas (pancreatitis), and immune system (weakening it and making you a much easier target for disease). Reducing consumption can have a considerable impact on your overall health.

Men and women resolving to get healthier in the new year can do so in various ways.


Keep plugging

Many people make New Year’s resolutions each year, and that trend is unlikely to change in 2016. But if history is any guide, few people are likely to achieve their resolutions.

A University of Scranton study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology found that just 8 percent of people who make New Year’s resolutions achieve those resolutions. The study indicated that time may be the ultimate enemy with regard to achieving New Year’s resolutions. While 75 percent of those making resolutions maintained their focus through the first week, that figure dropped to 64 percent by the end of the first month before dipping all the way to 46 percent after six months.

So how can you make this year the year when your New Year’s resolution becomes a reality? Consider the following tips.

• Don’t go it alone. One of the best ways to realize your New Year’s

Enlisting a friend can help you make this the year you achieve your New Year’s resolution.

Enlisting a friend can help you make this the year you achieve your New Year’s resolution.

resolution is to enlist the help of a friend. For example, if your goal isto lose weight, then start going to the gym with your spouse or a friend who works out regularly. The buddy system can provide just the motivation you need, and having a friend there to offer support can help you stay focused on those days when your will to keep going starts to wane.

• Be as specific as possible. Vague resolutions leave too much wiggle room, and that can compromise your ability to achieve your goal. Set specific goals with clear benchmarks so you can celebrate your progress as the year goes on. If your goal is to save ‘X’ amount of money in the next year, divide that number by 12 and aim to reach that smaller figure by the end of each month.

• Be realistic. Some people fail to achieve their resolutions because they simply set the bar too high. While it’s good to push yourself, don’t choose a resolution that’s unrealistic. If you do, you may quit early if you realize you aren’t making enough progress despite your putting forth your best efforts, or you might take an unhealthy approach in an attempt to circumvent some of the obstacles in your way. If your goal is to lose weight, speak with your physician first to determine a weight loss goal that is healthy and reasonable.

• Expect a few bumps in the road. En route to achieving your resolution, expect a few bumps in the road. Life is never entirely predictable, and there will be a few unforeseen events over the course of the year that may throw you off target. Anticipate and accept such obstacles so they don’t derail your efforts.

New Year’s resolutions do not always become a reality. But there are several ways to make this the year you finally realize your goals.