How to Maintain Healthy New Year's Resolutions

New Year’s resolutions geared toward weight loss or healthy living can often fall by the wayside before January runs out because they are overwhelming or unachievable. But when approached in small steps, they can result in success.

“A common resolution is to start eating healthier. Some people may start by completely eliminating all non-nutritious food from their diet or only filling their pantries with healthy food, but it’s better to start small so your goal is sustainable,” said Faiza Rais-Reynolds, M.D. at Wake Forest Health Network Family Medicine – North Davidson.

“One way to do this is by implementing healthy substitutions in your meals. For example, when you are preparing dishes, you can swap almond milk for dairy milk, brown rice for white rice, lettuce for tortilla shells, fruit for desserts, and Greek yogurt instead of sour cream. These small substitutions can equate to fewer calories and added nutritional value.”

Fresh, unprocessed foods are healthier than food that comes in a box, bag, individual wrapper or drive-thru window, Rais-Reynolds added, as they can contribute to weight loss, decrease inflammation, reduce cholesterol levels and lower blood pressure.

Rais-Reynolds suggests:

  • Get at least seven hours of sleep every night and maintain a consistent sleep schedule. Turn off all technology two hours before bedtime and don’t sleep with a phone next to the bed.
  • Take a 30- to 40-minute walk three times a week. Park your car a distance from your destination to get in some extra walking.
  • Avoid sugary soft drinks. Instead, try to drink at least six glasses of water a day, adding slices of orange, lemon or cucumber for flavor.
  • Establish a relationship with a primary care physician and schedule annual checkups.

“Another key component for a healthy lifestyle is making sure you are taking care of your mental health,” said Rais-Reynolds. “Having strong mental health will help you create healthy relationships, increase your productivity and drive towards your goals, and help you have a positive outlook on life. This in turn will assist you in creating a healthy and successful lifestyle not just in the New Year but for a lifetime.”