Resolve to Get Healthy: Your New Year Plan
According to a 2014 University of Scranton study, a little over 60 percent of New Year's resolutions actually make it to the end of January—and that figure drops to a measly 8 percent by the end of the year. What the study also shows, however, is that people who actively make resolutions are 10 times more likely to achieve them. If you're ready to commit to a healthier "you" once the ball drops, here are a few ways to make sure your enthusiasm doesn't wane as soon as the confetti is swept up.
Set Mini Goals
Remember that goals are like a marathon, not a sprint. Instead of committing to a lofty resolution, make a list of mini goals—for example, weight loss milestones in five-pound increments or a few hours at the gym every week. Keep track of each task in a note-taking app like Evernote or Wunderlist, then treat yourself when you cross something off the list. The more you review, reshape and reward the expectations you have of yourself, the more likely you'll actually achieve those goals.
Make Healthy Swaps
A healthier way of eating becomes easier when the meals are familiar, so tweak the ingredients of your favorite comfort foods instead of overhauling your menu entirely. This fresh take on pizza, for example, feeds the craving for its greasy counterpart, but with a more nutritious profile.
Step 1: Place a whole wheat pita, flat bread or English muffin on a cookie sheet, and then spoon fresh tomato sauce on top. Jarred sauces tend to pack excessive sodium and preservatives, so if you're unable to make your own, try a pre-made pesto or a simple drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil and garlic in place of the red sauce.
Step 2: Add equal amounts of part-skim mozzarella, sharp provolone and naturally lower-fat Parmesan, all of which maximize the flavor with fewer calories.
Step 3: Pack on the veggies—and the more, the better. This is a great time to clear out your refrigerator's veggie drawer or use up the week's leftover vegetable side dishes.
Step 4: Ditch the high-fat meats like full-fat pepperoni and pork sausage for leaner cuts like salami, turkey pepperoni or chicken sausage. Lean steak, grilled chicken or shrimp also make for satisfying, high-protein alternatives.
Step 5: Slide the cookie sheet under your broiler to melt the cheese, toast the bread and warm up the toppings. Once the cheese is golden, remove from heat and serve with a large salad, which adds filling fiber and helps you control portion sizes.
Capture Before, During and After
Photos speak a thousand words, so use your smartphone to grab a "before" picture to keep yourself motivated and tell the epic tale of just how far you've come. Remember to take a new shot every week or two to memorialize your weight loss or muscle-building success story. As the changes in your body become more evident, use a collage-making app like PhotoGrid or Collage Creator to create a side-by-side comparison of your "before and after" changes.
Track Your Progress
Studies show that pedometers and other activity tracking devices encourage wearers to ramp up physical activity. Wearable tech can become a valuable motivational tool that keeps you accountable to your exercises and on top of your vitals throughout the day. In addition to counting your steps, the device can monitor your heart rate, tally the calories you've burned and, over time, display your unique exercise and nutritional data.
Share and Stay Accountable
Use social media to harness the power of group motivation, and leverage your online connections so you remain accountable to your goals. Use your smartphone, tablet or laptop to post your resolutions to your Facebook or Twitter feed, and then sync your fitness tracker so it updates your network automatically. Sharing your goals invites others to track your progress and offer encouragement—and you may even find that a friend or two has similar goals you can accomplish together.
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