Sensible Resolutions for 2010

As we approach the beginning of a New Year, many people will be considering making New Year’s resolutions. According to a survey conducted by Opinion Corporation, nearly half of all adults in the U.S. regularly make New Year’s resolutions. Not surprisingly, 40% of resolutions have to do with weight. Also not surprising is the fact that less than 10% of resolutions have been maintained as of the one-year mark.

A major reason so few resolutions are maintained is that people set goals that are unrealistic and difficult to maintain. A much smarter approach is to make small concrete changes which can be built upon and which are more likely to be maintained. Below are a few suggestions for starting off the New Year right for a healthy 2010 and beyond.

Get Active. Getting at least 30 minutes of physical activity each day is essential — and easy!

  • Take a brisk walk with family and friends after a big holiday meal before settling in for a nap or a football game
  • Climb the stairs/escalator instead of taking the elevator at work, the airport or the mall
  • Choose the farthest parking spot at the shopping mall (except at night)
  • Play sports with friends — tennis, bowling, basketball and golf will keep you active. Table tennis is making a come-back, too, and it does burn calories
  • If you’re near a network of trails, go for a scenic hike to clear your mind
  • If you have problems with your knees, find a local indoor swimming pool
  • Having a workout partner can be a great way to keep you motivated. If you make plans to meet at a certain time, you hold each other accountable and are less likely to skip the workout.

Keeps your metabolism going. Eat breakfast within 30 minutes of getting up in the morning and eat every 4 hours after that. Eating regularly keeps your metabolism working and prevents you from getting too hungry, which could trigger bad food decisions. Of course, keep in mind calories by choosing nutrient-rich foods.

Drink more water. Water keeps everything moving through you. It also hydrates your skin and may help you lose weight by making you feel fuller. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to hydrate. Adding more water to your diet is an easy change.

For women of childbearing age, make sure you get your folic acid. January is National Birth Defects Prevention Month, making it a great time to start increasing folic acid intake from good sources like enriched grain foods. Daily consumption of the B vitamin folic acid beginning before pregnancy is crucial, as birth defects of the brain and spine (neural tube defects) — such as spina bifida — can occur in the early weeks following conception, often before a woman knows she is pregnant.

And remember: All change is difficult, so it’s important to do it gradually. Allow your body and mind time to adjust to a new routine. Trying to make diet and exercise changes all at once can be overwhelming and difficult to maintain.