How to Maintain Healthy New Year's Resolutions

New Year’s resolutions geared toward weight loss or healthy living often fall by the wayside before January runs out because they are overwhelming or unachievable. But when approached in small steps, they can result in success.

“One of the most common resolutions is eating healthier. But instead of attempting to completely remove fast food or other non-nutritious items all of a sudden, it’s better to start small,” said William Satterwhite, MD, JD, chief health and wellness officer at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.

“One way to do this is pick the evening that is the least busy and plan a simple meal that you can cook at home. Prepare much of the meal the night before, so that only the cooking is left to do the next evening. Build upon this and gradually increase to two nights preparing dinner and steadily adjust your meal planning.”

Fresh, unprocessed foods are healthier than food that comes in a box, bag, individual wrapper or drive-thru window, Satterwhite added, as they can contribute to weight loss, decrease inflammation, reduce cholesterol levels and lower blood pressure.

For additional ways to maintain a healthy lifestyle, Satterwhite suggests:

  • Get at least seven hours of sleep every night and maintain a consistent sleep schedule. Turn off all technology two hours before bedtime and don’t sleep with a phone next to the bed.
  • Take a 30- to 40-minute walk three times a week. Park your car a distance from your destination to get in some extra walking.
  • Avoid sugary soft drinks. Instead, try to drink at least six glasses of water a day, adding slices of orange, lemon or cucumber for flavor.
  • Establish a relationship with a primary care physician and schedule annual checkups.

“Another key component for a healthy lifestyle is simply having friends and being social,” said Satterwhite. “Living a long and happy life is associated with having strong and significant relationships. Having fun, loving and being loved, caring for and being cared for by others are all key ingredients in living a healthy and successful life, not just in the New Year but for a lifetime.”