New Year’s resolutions usually take the form of some extreme and ill-fated regime to lose the ten pounds gained during the holidays.
But a fresh start doesn’t have to be so short-lived. In fact, small lifestyle changes are far easier to implement and maintain all year round.
So what do the experts think we should be aiming for? And how can we stick to those promises we make ourselves on January 1 every year?
New York’s top health, fitness and wellbeing experts name the 20 New Year resolutions they believe are worth sticking to…
1. Get some shut-eye
It’s called beauty sleep for a reason – a good night’s rest can be transformative! Top cardiologist Dr Kevin Campbell says: ‘Sleep is essential to maintaining brain function and improving health. It is important that we allow our brains to recharge it night. Most adults need between six and nine hours of sleep a night.
‘This allows our brain a chance to heal and prepare for the next day. Inadequate sleep has been associated with diabetes, heart disease as well as poor performance on cognitive tasks the next day.’
If you have trouble nodding off or you’re wakeful during the night, make changes to the conditions in your bedroom. That includes switching off all laptops, phones and TVs as the glare affects the quality of your sleep. Dr Campbell also suggests not eating or drinking two hours before sleep.
2. Work out
Working out is not just beneficial for weight-loss, it’s great for your overall happiness, wellbeing and long-term health. The Centers for Disease Control recommends 150 minutes of vigorous exercise per week for healthy adults – that’s just 30 minutes a day, five days a week.
If you find exercise boring, keep it varied, perhaps a spin class one day and a dance class the next.
Joseph Andreula, CEO of CKO Kickboxing advises: ‘Do full body workouts. Total body workouts tax your entire body and make your metabolism much faster than only training your legs or upper body.’
3. Eat your greens
Yes, your mom was right, you should be eating your leafy greens – the darker, the better! Kale, spinach, collard greens and chard are all high in vitamins A and C as well as iron, calcium, manganese, folate, copper, choline, magnesium, potassium and vitamins E, K, B2 and B6.
The result? They benefit bone strength and can decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and memory-loss. They are also packed with disease-fighting antioxidants.
Try adding a handful of fresh spinach to a pasta dish or a bowl of Progresso™ soup just before serving. The residual heat will wilt the leaves just enough without losing all those powerful nutrients.
Can’t get fresh greens every day? Nutrition expert Dr Simone Laubscher suggests adding an alkalizing super green supplement to your diet.
‘Take an organic whole food super greens powder each day to balance the fun parts of your life such as rich food, alcohol, caffeine etc that tend to make you acidic,’ she says.
4. Drink more water
Most of society is chronically dehydrated and this can cause to overeating, mood irritability, lethargic energy and headaches, says celebrity personal trainer Matthew Townsend. And he has a great tip if you’re prone to forgetting: ‘Set an alarm every 90 minutes to take a drink of water,’ he suggests.
The quickest way to de-stress, stop the anxiety and slow your heart rate down is to breathe, says Dr Suzanne Steinbaum, cardiologist and Director of Women and Heart Disease of Lenox Hill Hospital.
Indeed, meditating twice a day has been shown to reduce the incidence of heart attack and stroke by as much as 66 per cent, according to a 2012 study.
‘Take slow deep inhalations for the count of four, in through the nose,’ Dr Steinbaum instructs. ‘Hold it for four counts, then let it out vigorously with a “shhh” sound for the count of six. Breathing can stop anxiety in its tracks and physiologically decrease your heart rate, blood pressure and the stress response. It’s a great tool to have and one that you can use on a regular basis.’
Making this a daily practice could have long lasting effects, she adds, including managing stress and maintaining a sense of equilibrium, even when life is at its most stressful.
6. Wash your hands more
Everywhere we go, we can pick up germs and nobody likes to get sick, warns Townsend. Make it a habit to wash your hands every so often and always before each meal.