Every January is an opportunity to make a fresh start, which is probably why 77 percent of people stick to their resolutions — for the first week of the new year, anyway. But as life gets in the way, motivation often fades. Just 46 percent of people have kept their New Year’s resolutions by mid-year.
If you want to get healthier, make 2019 the year you actually follow through. Don’t know where to start? Here are six health resolutions you can make — and keep — this year.
1. Start Small With Physical Activity
Improving your health is a long game. Break down that big, audacious goal, because you probably won’t see results overnight. Instead, improving your health is about the small choices you make every day. If you’ve been sedentary for the last few months, start by committing to physical activity one day a week — either at home or by finding something you enjoy, like Zumba, spin or aqua aerobics.
2. Commit to Healthier Snacking
Chips, candy bars and pastries are popular go-tos, especially if they’re easily available. It doesn’t take saying “just one more” that many times before the office candy bowl is empty.
Try swapping these treats out for healthier options like chocolate-covered chickpeas, yogurt with a teaspoon of almond or hazelnut butter, trail mix, beef jerky or even a square of high-quality dark chocolate. Many of these options are also good candidates to replace the chips in your office vending machine — try approaching your company about making some health-conscious substitutes.
3. Sit Less, Stand More
If you work an eight-hour day, you probably spend seven of them sitting. Find time in your workday to get moving, whether that means going for a few laps around the block during your lunch break, getting up to stretch every hour or taking advantage of the standing desks so many trendy offices seem to be opting for.
4. Visit the Doctor
Of course you know it’s important to see your doctor. But do you do it? Whether it’s because you think you’re healthy, you changed jobs and got a new insurance plan or you turned 26 and left your parents’ plan, there’s a chance that finding the right primary care physician and following through with actually getting an appointment keeps getting bumped down your to-do list. This year, take a few hours one Sunday to set things straight — the rewards will be well worth the effort. The same goes for the dentist and any other care you might need, including a mental health professional. Neglecting care is a losing game.
5. Improve Your Health Literacy
To maintain or improve your health, it’s vital to understand it. That’s where health literacy comes in. Symptoms, care instructions, health insurance terms — having a grasp on these things will help you get the right care sooner, and potentially for less.
Ask your doctor all the questions you can. Consult credible online resources like hospital websites and your insurer’s literature. You don’t have to get it all down on day one, but this year, commit to resolving at least five uncertainties you have about your health care.
6. Start Thinking Ahead
Are you prepared to handle the out-of-pocket health care costs that might come up this year? If you don’t have a medical emergency fund, consider starting one. Even if you’re only able to save a little at a time, it will add up. Then again, other savings goals may already be on your longer list of New Year’s resolutions. If that’s the case, look into protecting yourself with an extra layer of supplemental health insurance. Plans like critical illness and accident insurance can help you fill gaps in your health plan and absorb surprise medical bills.
Whether your goal is to lose weight, adopt a plant-based diet or exercise at least once a week, you’re more likely to find success in your health resolutions if you focus on making small changes. Fad diets don’t lead to lasting changes, and taking on too much too soon may cause you to run out of steam before you even really get started. As the saying goes, the race is not to the swift. When it comes to sticking to your resolutions, going slow and steady will help you achieve your goals in 2019.