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Well and Good: New Year’s Resolutions

So, how are those New Year’s resolutions going?

That good, huh?

Well, it’s natural to resist change – even when you know it’s something that’s good for you. But over the years, working with people trying to improve their health, I have learned that New Year’s resolutions, or any change in your health and fitness habits, are more likely to have staying power if you keep them small, specific and manageable.

So, here are some simple pledges that could help you live a healthier, fitter life in 2012.

Take your vitamins: This is easy and requires almost no effort – just a good memory. At the very least, you should be taking a good multivitamin daily, omega-3s for heart health, and an anti-oxidant supplement. If you have a family history of osteoporosis, take calcium, too, plus Vitamin D so your body can  absorb it properly. For more specialized needs, come see us in the Healthy Living department so we can discuss your diet and your lifestyle, and give you some personalized recommendations on vitamin and mineral supplements.

Eat more raw foods: You hear a lot about eating the “superfood” of the moment, whether it’s kale, blueberries, pomegranates or walnuts. What these have in common, however, is often one thing: They are raw, natural, unprocessed foods, that have the full power of their vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. If you don’t normally eat a lot of fresh foods, start by trying to eat just one serving a day, and choose something you already like – blueberries, spinach or raw almonds are good ones to start with. Slowly increase your intake so you are eating several servings of fresh, unprocessed foods each day.

Learn to cook from scratch: Processed convenience foods are full of all kinds of unnatural ingredients, plus more salt than we usually need. Learning to cook at least a couple of dishes from natural, whole ingredients lets you control the fat, salt and sugar content of your meals. Plus, it’s usually a good way to save money.

Go meatless once a week: High levels of meat consumption have been linked to many health problems, including heart disease, diabetes, obesity and cancer. But going cold-turkey vegetarian isn’t a practical option for most people. Instead, you can follow the lead of “Meatless Mondays,” popularized by the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. The idea is to give up meat just one day a week, cutting your overall meat consumption by 15 percent. It doesn’t have to be Monday; choose whatever day, or whichever meals, works for you.

Move – but just a little: If you are a couch potato and decide you’re going to start running marathons, you COULD be successful.  But it’s more likely you’ll give up quickly, defeated by what seems like an impossible achievement. Instead, start small, and set incremental goals. If you’re inactive, start by walking ten or 15 minutes a day, three or four days a week. If you currently get to the gym twice a week, promise yourself to go three times. If you’re already fit, plan to take up a new sport or fitness activity this year.