5 Steps to a Healthy Year

Published: December 19th, 2014 |

Skip the resolutions and try these no-stress ideas instead.

It's almost the new year, which means we're all finalizing our resolutions, right? But for most of us, the pattern of making goals and failing to achieve them can be frustrating and discouraging. This year, take a new approach: Instead of "resolutions," make "commitments" to a healthier lifestyle.

"With resolutions, they're framed as successful or unsuccessful," says Jenny Armentrout, PhD, of Saint Mary's College in Notre Dame, IN, whose work focuses on the language we use to talk about our bodies and goals. "It is about a lifetime of commitment to continually strive to do things better or differently," she says. "Commitment" changes our mindset and helps us achieve reachable goals in a positive way.

This time around, try these small, no-stress commitments that will improve your health and help you leave the guilt behind.

Cook at Home More Often
Sometimes, a drive-through run is the only practical dinner option, but try to prepare meals at home a little more than you do now. If you don't cook at all, start with one night. If you already cook two nights, try to bump it up to three or four, and so on. Cooking at home helps you eat better, save money, and teach your kids healthy habits. Need ideas? Check out our recipe collection or learn the best way to do fast food.

Eat a Little Less Meat
You don't have to completely cut out the foods you love, but scaling back can give you big health benefits. Limiting red meat, especially processed meat like bacon and hot dogs, may reduce the risk for heart problems, cancer, and early death. When you fill your plate, start with produce, whole grains, and better-for-you protein—you'll have less room for red meat.

Get Moving—Moderately
Not the marathon type? No big deal. And actually, research shows that it may not be safest way to improve your heart health. Instead, aim to do moderate-intensity exercise that gets your heart pumping 30 minutes to 1 hour most days of the week. If you're new to exercise, try walking or a fun take on running. When you're crunched for time, try our 8-minute jump rope routine or 14-minute cardio workout.

Check Your Ticker
Did you know there is a fast way you can help protect yourself from the number one cause of death in the US? Just a short, simple panel of tests that checks your blood pressure and cholesterol can give you and your doctor insight into your heart disease risk. Schedule an appointment for your heart-health check if you haven't had one recently, and take this easy quiz to see how else you can care for your heart.

Watch Healthier TV
Yes, you read that right. We're not saying you should veg out to the tube for hours on end, but new research has found that watching a rerun of your favorite show may help improve mood and willpower. The next time you're feeling a little down or unmotivated, turn on your favorite Friends or 24 episode for some entertainment plus an energy boost.

Happy New Year!

—Nicole Kwan

Keywords: family, fitness, health, nutrition, stress