It's that time of year again. As the new year approaches, chances are you're resolving to get healthier, eat better or figure out a way to reduce stress. And if you don't want to repeat these resolutions next year, there are some key ways to ensure that they stick.
New York City health experts offer six quick tips to making 2015 your healthiest year yet.
Make short-term goals"The main thing is to make realistic, short-term goals," says Mindy Gorman-Plutzer, a certified health coach in private practice in New York City. "This works way better than making statements such as 'I'm going to lose 20 pounds by the end of eight weeks.'"
Pick activities you enjoyYou're far likelier to stick with activities that add joy to your life. "Engage in physical activities you enjoy rather than those you think you should be doing," Gorman-Plutzer says.
Make small changes
to get fitIf an hour of running in Central Park seems overwhelming, pare things down, suggests Larysa DiDio, a celebrity fitness trainer. "Start with just 10 minutes of exercise per day," she says. "It's all you need to make a big difference in just one year." Keeping a daily log will help, too. "When you write down your goals, your progress and what you did for the day, you become accountable," DiDio adds. "And accountability is the key to success."
Stand upSitting all day not only contributes to weight gain and heart disease, but it can also affect your stress levels, says Amy O'Connor, editorial director of Everyday Health. "This year, take a second to think of all the activities you do each day sitting down -- working at your desk, sitting in a taxi, watching TV and eating dinner," she says. "Then try to spend more of that time standing or walking, instead."
Dump one bad eating habit every month
Make a list of your five worst eating habits and try to improve upon one per month, suggests registered dietitian Bonnie Taub-Dix. If you stick with it, you can drop 12 bad habits this year. "This works because you're setting tangible goals that are easy to attain instead of aiming to accomplish something that's unrealistic," she says. "Once you accomplish the goal of changing one bad eating habit, move onto another, but don't try to 'fix' everything at once. If you take it one step at a time, you'll keep moving ahead instead of sliding backward."
Get (or borrow) a petLet this be the year you invite a furry friend to live with you. It's not only a great way to connect with others (people tend to be friendly in our city's many dog runs), but several studies have shown that pets are good for your overall health and stress. "One study showed that dog owners laugh more, which relieves stress," O'Connor says. "Other studies have shown that petting a dog lowers blood pressure and stress hormones."
Unplug, log off
and shut downIn 2015, scientists predict the average person will spend about 16 hours a day consuming media, including TV, social media and phone time, O'Connor says. "At the same time, researchers have found that smartphones actually increase stress," she says. "And, another report showed that the more people used Facebook, the more their happiness declined." So, this year, resolve to pick up a book (or phone a friend) instead of connecting digitally.
Be kind to yourselfIf you fall off track -- despite your best intentions to get healthy -- be gentle on yourself and remain confident that you'll be able to stick with them in the long run, Gorman-Plutzer says. "Acknowledge what you've accomplished, not what you didn't get to," she says. That positive self-talk just might make the difference between keeping resolutions and ditching them by Super Bowl Sunday.