New Year’s Resolutions | Online Exclusives, Dec. 2011

New Year, New You

Health tips to help you stick to your goals

Online ExclusivesThe holiday season is in full swing, and the new year is just around the corner –– that means that women everywhere will be making resolutions lists. Out of the twelve popular New Year’s resolutions lists on our country’s website, almost half are health-related. And despite the tradition of making New Year’s resolutions, few of us actually keep them for very long –– and about 40 percent of people who make New Year’s resolutions don’t keep them at all.

For women, the fight to lose weight and eat healthy can be tough: between family obligations, work and other activities, it often feels like there’s no time in the day to make the changes in our lives that lead to good health. But with the right motivation and the right tools, keeping your health-related New Year’s resolutions doesn’t have to be a struggle.

Time crunch: eating tips for a new year
While making a resolution to eat healthier is an important first step, making your goals realistic is the most important element of keeping those resolutions. Setting smaller goals can be the difference between success and failure.

“Every woman says, ‘I’m going to lose weight this year,’” says Sarah Muntel, a dietician at IU Health’s Bariatric/Medical Weight Loss program. “But people focus on such drastic measures and results that they give up. It’s important to realize that you won’t see immediate results right away, and to keep going with your healthy eating plan.”

Online ExclusivesBut transitioning from holiday indulgence to everyday food discipline can be a tall order, especially if you’ve got a family to feed. But making changes in what you cook or eat every day can have a positive impact on your health and the health of your family. In 2012, consider cleaning out your pantry and your fridge to make room for healthy ingredients for quick dinners.

“People rely on frozen pizza and boxed dinners –– and all of that stuff is super-processed,” Muntel says. “When it comes to dinner, you don’t have to make a huge recipe with fancy ingredients –– on a busy night, having some lettuce in your fridge, some precooked chicken and bread can make a healthy dinner.”

Muntel also suggests planning ahead and buying ingredients that can be thrown together without much culinary skill. “Cooking a big pan of lasagna and freezing half for later means you can heat it up and eat it throughout the week. Planning ahead takes a lot of work at first, but will become second nature.”

Want to be fit? You’ve got to commit
While very few of us might be all that excited about working out, time can still be a factor that leads to not hitting the gym. IU Health fitness and weight loss specialist Jillian McAfee’s first bit of advice also echoes Muntel’s. Don’t make the mistake of believing you can drop 20 pounds in a month or two, she says.

“Making a lifestyle change isn’t a sprint, it’s a long race,” McAfee says. “Instead of concentrating on working out at the gym for an hour every day, start with shooting for three hours a week. We’d all love to do these amazing things, but if we don’t have the resources to accomplish those things, a smaller goal that will still make you feel good is a better bet.”

McAfee also suggests investing in exercise equipment at home if your schedule makes it hard to get to the gym.

“Items like hand weights and a stability ball can give you a great strength training workout,” she says. “You can search for online fitness classes, podcasts and videos to help you with your form. We all have enough time to work out, and there are plenty of options.”

Goals for 2012 and beyond
Online ExclusivesMaking a lifestyle change to lose weight and get healthier means you’ll need to carry these habits throughout the new year and beyond. Both Muntel and McAfee agree that keeping track of your progress is critical to staying on track with your fitness regimen.

“Write your goals down and track your activities –– that will help you see how much progress you make every day,” McAfee says. “Letting life get in the way –– busy work day, being tired when you get home –– all of those excuses can keep you from staying focused.”

Tracking your goals can also give you the boost you need on those days when your schedule keeps you from working out.

No matter what your health goals are for 2012, setting yourself up for success is crucial. With determination and a little creativity, 2012 could be your healthiest year yet.

Sharmin TM Kent is a writer and editor who lives on the north side with her husband. While she doesn’t look forward to waking up at 5 a.m. every day to do Pilates, she does it anyway.

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