Healthy resolutions you can stick to

List of New Year's resolutions

You’ve sung “Auld Lang Syne,” the confetti is cleaned up and you know what’s next: making that New Year’s resolution. Many of us will resolve to better ourselves this January, but unfortunately, most of us won’t stick with it. This year, make a commitment to improving your health. It’s not as difficult as you might think.

Lose weight
This is the No. 1 New Year’s resolution in the United States. The key to success is to set small, realistic goals. If you are looking for overnight success, you will be let down and unmotivated to continue.

Start by lowering your calorie intake by 500 calories a week. Use a food journal or mobile app to keep track. After you’ve made that a habit, increase your physical activity by one more day of exercise per week. Soon you will see how small changes add up to lost pounds.

Quit smoking
No one says this isn’t a tough one. Any ex-smoker will tell you that multiple attempts are usually the path to success. But persistence pays off in the health benefits you will achieve if you stick to a goal of kicking the habit.

You may need to try several smoking cessation methods to find one that works. And you will need help to succeed. Accept this fact, and you are one step closer to a healthier heart, a longer life, better-smelling breath and more money in your pocket.

Reduce stress
Make this your 2014 resolution if you experience chronic, daily stress. Stress can increase your risk for heart disease, obesity, depression, insomnia and other serious health conditions.

Stress is an inevitable part of life, but it’s important to know how to manage it through relaxation techniques, getting plenty of sleep and exercising. Can you name one way you are reducing your stress today?

Cut back on alcohol
While there may be some health benefits to drinking small amounts of alcohol, too much drinking is a health concern. Drinking too much alcohol increases your risk for liver and heart disease, hypertension, stroke, mental health issues and certain types of cancer.

Women should have no more than one alcoholic beverage per day, and men should stop at two beverages per day.

Get more sleep
You probably already know that a good night’s rest can do wonders for your mood. But sleep is more beneficial to your health than you might realize. Lack of sleep has been linked to a greater risk for obesity and Type 2 diabetes. And sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea, put stress on your heart. Whether it means going to bed earlier or making other adjustments in your schedule, aim to get at least seven to eight hours of sleep per night.

Which resolution is best for you? Remember, don’t try to tackle them all. Choose one and start slowly. And be kind to yourself if you falter. Tomorrow is always a new day — even if it isn’t a new year, it can be a start to a new you.

–Roger Jenkinson