Your New Year’s Resolution: Be Healthier

New year, new you? Many people mark the start of the year with resolutions to be better in some way; improving your health certainly falls into this category. It’s hard to chase after a goal so broad without a plan of action, though. Read on to find the specific area of your health that you’re targeting – physical fitness, dietary choices, etc. – and find a specific plan for improving it. See you in 2015!

Goal: Improve Your Physical Fitness

Action Plan: One of the best ways to improve your health is to be more active, which in turn increases your level of physical fitness. If you want to get in better shape in 2015, start small. Aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day.

You can also strive to incorporate small acts of cardiovascular activity into your routine. For example, ark farther from the store’s entrance, take the stairs at work or walk to lunch rather than driving there. The possibilities are endless and you’ll get a wave of exercise into a day that might be sedentary otherwise. Once you’ve got this routine down, add another session to your schedule or stay longer. As you get better in the gym, your health will improve, too.

Goal: Get Stronger

Action Plan: Perhaps you’re already a cardio guru, but you want to become more lean and muscular. Lifting weights is the best way to do it, and simple 10-minute daily sessions can be enough to reap the benefits of a more muscular body. Those benefits include an increased metabolism, boosted energy and stronger, better-protected bones.

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Goal: Eat Appropriately Sized Meals

Action Plan: A giant plate with only a little bit of food on it will leave you feeling hungry, research has shown. That’s why experts suggest serving meals on smaller plates so that your brain can’t trick your stomach into thinking it’s deprived. Start your year off right by retiring those huge dinner plates and investing in some attractive but smaller plates.

Goal: Say Goodbye to Sodium

Action Plan: Sugar gets a lot of attention for its negative effects on your body, but sodium should also be of concern. Too much salt can make your body bloated, but its effects aren’t just cosmetic; sodium can also cause your blood pressure to rise, which is a big issue if you have a family history of heart disease. In order to decrease your sodium intake, reduce your intake of processed foods. These items – think crackers, cheeses, chips, frozen foods, and more – are notorious for packing a salt-laden punch. The more fresh produce and lean meats you can replace these products with, the better.

Goal: Drink Less

Action Plan: There are plenty of reasons to drink less than you do now. Alcohol can cause damage to your organs, bloating, memory loss, depression, seizures and even cancer, among other health issues. If you want to drink less, find a nonalcoholic beverage you enjoy so that you don’t feel uncomfortable with an empty hand at your next party or happy hour. You could avoid the temptation altogether by simply avoiding these sorts of events, opting instead to hang out with friends and loved ones at places where booze isn’t on the menu. Of course, if you must – or want to – imbibe, do so responsibly; there’s no shame in sipping a beverage slowly.

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Goal: Stay Social

Action Plan: Not all health-related resolutions revolve around diet and exercise. In fact, having a great social life and support system can make you happier than ever this year. If you resolve to improve yours, it’s very easy: Keep in touch via text, social media or even video chat with people who are important to you. Of course, you can always do more by planning in-person meet-ups, outings and trips, but just a daily conversation can make a world of difference.

Goal: Stick to Your Resolutions

Action Plan: It might seem silly, but you might want to add that you resolve to keep your resolutions this year. Many people fall off of the wagon after only a few weeks, when the excitement of resolution-making has waned. There are plenty of ways to make sure that you stick to your guns, though.

First of all, you can find someone who is chasing goals similar to yours. You can check in with one another to ensure that you stay accountable. You can also meet up for workouts or healthy meals so that you have something to look forward to – and someone depending on you for their own health. Another great way to keep yourself in check is with a food journal. If you hit a plateau, you’ll have all of the information you need as to where you should cut back.

Try these and other methods in order to keep yourself in check, and who knows? Perhaps by next New Year’s Eve you’ll be a completely different, completely healthy person.

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