Diet & Weight Loss
15 Most Popular New Year’s Resolutions and How to Keep Them
A new year is upon us and with it, a chance to renew our resolve to live well, be healthy and strive for deeper, more meaningful connections. Here’s a look at some popular New Year’s resolutions, with tips for making them stick.
Get in shape
Good choice! According to a 2015 Nielsen survey, the most common New Year’s resolutions have to do with getting in shape. If you’re resolving to hit the gym to improve your health or just your physique, you can avoid falling off the fitness cliff come February by enlisting a friend to exercise with you, or joining a regular class where you’ll be missed if you skip a session or two. Need additional motivation? Personal trainer Larysa DiDio recommends using fitness technology to stay on track. “Fitbits will tell you when you’ve been sitting too long and you need to move. Food apps will tell you when you’ve eaten too much and you need to stop. Exercise apps will tell you how many calories you’ve burned. All this information will keep you aware and working toward your goals,” said DiDio in an interview with TODAY.
Spend any amount of time on Instagram and you won’t be able to avoid the avalanche of products and schemes promising quick weight loss. And while the thought of shrinking a dress size or five by Christmas morning is a gift in itself, there really aren’t any shortcuts when it comes to dropping pounds. While we’ve long heard the message that the key to weight loss lies in diet and exercise, the latest research suggests that, while exercise is important for overall health and keeping weight off, it isn’t actually that useful for weight loss. The bottom line: If you want to lose weight, focus on cutting calories. This is how doctors keep their New Year’s resolutions.
Enjoy life to the fullest
A 2016 survey conducted by GoBankingRates.com found that the top New Year’s resolution among respondents was “enjoy life to the fullest.” According to psychologist Jonathan Fader, PhD, the key to enjoying life to the fullest lies not in making major life changes, but in actively practicing enjoyment of life as it currently is.
“Have a daily ritual around enjoyment: Upon waking, ask yourself, “What do I look forward to most today.” At the end of your day, ask yourself, “What was the most enjoyable part of my day and why?” wrote Fader in Psychology Today.
Spend less, save more
If your bank account is looking a little anemic after the holiday gifts have all been purchased, you may be one of the many people who resolve to get their financial house in order in 2018. Ginger Dean, blogger at Girls Just Wanna Have Funds, recommends setting a budget and then looking for ways to cut costs. Buy and sell clothes at consignment stores, consider refurbished electronics, buy produce when it’s on sale, and bundle your car, home, and life insurance. “Paying separately for auto, life, and home insurance can get expensive. Ask your insurance agent if you will receive a discount for bundling policies. Before renewing an insurance policy, shop around and see if you can find the cheapest car insurance rate quotes out there,” wrote Dean in Forbes. Here are 15 financial resolutions that will make you more money in 2019.
Spend more time with family and friends
Spending time with loved ones is great for your health and well-being, so it’s not surprising that many people resolve to put more effort into nurturing their connections with family and friends. Set aside time each week to either call or meet up with a friend or family member. Take turns hosting dinner, or just get together for a walk. Friends far away? Set up a weekly Skype chat instead.
Getting organized is a noble goal. But in order to make this resolution stick, you’re going to need some concrete strategies. Nicole Anzia, founder of Neatnik.org, recommends avoiding impulse purchases so you don’t end up with more clutter, setting aside 10 minutes each day to filed and delete old emails, and setting up files to keep track of paperwork, such as medical bills, taxes and home maintenance documents. “Even if you do almost everything electronically, you will still have important papers that need a home. Creating files for those papers will make it a breeze to put things away properly,” wrote Anzia in an article in The Washington Post.
Learn something new
This is one of the most commonly broken resolutions, and the reason should be clear to anyone who’s ever tried to take up Mandarin or become a concert pianist in their spare time. Learning new things can be frustrating, hard, and a drain on one’s time. Avoid becoming a continuing education dropout by starting small. Instead of signing up for a language class, start out with a language-learning app such as Duolingo. And instead of resolving to master the art of French cooking, start by mastering a single French recipe, then build on your skills later on. These are the 56 secrets life coaches won’t tell you for free.
According to Richard Wiseman, a psychologist at the University of Hertfordshire, most people don’t succeed at their New Year’s resolutions, but there are strategies you can use to improve your odds of success. “Many of the most successful techniques involve making a plan and helping yourself stick to it,” said Wiseman in an interview with The Guardian.
If you want to travel more in 2018, be specific about where you want to go, when you want to go there, and what you’d like to do when you get there. Then start researching to find out what it’s going to cost, what you’ll need to bring, and how much time you’ll want to spend. From there, you can create a budget, start a travel fund, and let your friends and family know that you’re planning a fabulous trip. Letting others in on your plans will help keep you accountable.
Break your smartphone addiction
Don’t believe it’s possible? Cell phone addiction is real. The average person checks their phone a whopping 100 times a day, according to The Daily Mail. If you’re ready to reclaim some of your time and break your digital addiction, you could go cold turkey and go back to using a bare-bones phone. If you’re more interested in moderating your usage, try these tips that Adam Alter, a professor of marketing at NYU and author of Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked, shared with The Week. 1) Turn off all non-essential notifications, and keep your phone as far from you as possible. 2) Give yourself set periods of time to check email, Facebook, etc., so you don’t end up mindlessly fooling around on your phone for an hour when you only meant to give your newsfeed a quick glance. 3) Replace the habit. Instead of reaching for your phone, grab a magazine or book instead.
Eat at home more
If you’re hooked on takeout, it’s probably taking a toll on your bank account and your health. Cooking at home is cheaper and better for your waistline than ordering in or eating out, since you’re in charge of the ingredients. Then stock your kitchen with the right tools and have some go-to weeknight recipes; that way you can take a lot of the time and frustration out of meal planning. Apps such as Yummly and Mealboard simplify the process by generating shopping lists and letting you filter recipes by prep time, nutrition, seasonality, and more. These are the 45 foods you’ve been buying that you could cook at home.
If you’d like to cut back on your alcohol consumption in the New Year, John C. Norcross, PhD, and author of Changeology: 5 Steps to Realizing Your Goals and Resolutions, recommends avoiding situations—like Bunco parties or happy hours with friends—that may tempt you into drinking too much. Instead, invite guests to your home for dinner so you can control how much alcohol is served, and how much you drink. Here are 17 more tips for cutting back on booze.
Stop smokingMarc Bruxelle/Shutterstock
According to the American Cancer Society, only 4 to 7 percent of smokers manage to quit in any given attempt, but those odds improve dramatically—up to 25 percent—when people combine counseling with anti-smoking medication. “People can mix and match and find a combination that works best for them,” said Yvonne Hunt, a program director at the National Cancer Institute’s tobacco control research branch.
If you’re resolving to reduce your stress in the New Year, you might try this resolution: Make meditation a habit. By setting aside ten minutes a day to meditate, you can make real progress toward your stress-reduction goal. “Research suggests that daily meditation may alter the brain’s neural pathways, making you more resilient to stress,” said psychologist Robbie Maller Hartman, PhD, in an interview with WebMD. This is the best health resolution for every month of the year.
Get more sleep
Good sleep is essential to overall health, so resolving to sleep better is smart. The sleep wizards at Sleep.org say that in order to improve your sleep, you need to think about your habits and environment. First, try to go to bed at the same time every night, so your body will get used to the routine and naturally start to wind down. Avoid caffeine after midday, and have your last alcoholic beverage at least two to three hours before your bedtime. Make your bedroom a sleep haven, with comfortable bedding, a soothing color scheme, and limited distractions, such as pets.
Most of us can remember to brush our teeth at least twice a day, but it’s a different story when it comes to flossing. After each dentist appointment (and stern lecture from the dentist), it’s common to go through a brief period of regular flossing followed by a return to old habits. But flossing is important for preventing tooth decay, keeping your smile looking young, and avoiding expensive dental bills and mouth pain. To make your flossing resolution stick, Mark Burhenne, DDS, of askthedentist.com, recommends starting out slow, aiming to floss once a week. He advises keeping floss around so you’ll think of it when you’re watching tv or sitting in traffic. He also suggests creating a visual cue to remind yourself. “I tell my patients to take a blank Post-It and stick it on your mirror. That’s a cue. Don’t write things like ‘floss’ on it—that sounds too authoritarian and disciplinary. Every time you see that note, you’ll know deep down, that means to floss. I did this to get into the habit myself,” wrote Dr. Burhenne. Next, check out these 50 ways to make a resolution stick.