Chosen wisely, the right resolutions could help make 2023 your best year yet. But experts say that before you commit to any drastic measures, it’s important to consider which New Year’s resolutions you’re likely to actually keep.
By setting simple, realistic, and measurable health goals, you can finally make the most of those beginning-of-year promises—without the frustration of falling short when the bar is set too high. Taken together, this simple set of goals could help transform your health in seven easy steps. Read on to learn which high-impact health resolutions you can actually keep, according to experts.
READ THIS NEXT: 80 Percent of Strokes Could Be Prevented by Doing These 4 Things, CDC Says.
While it may be tempting to commit to an extreme diet plan or weight loss goal as your top resolution, experts say focusing on the scale or being overly restrictive will more than likely backfire. Instead, it can be helpful to commit to planning at least one of your daily meals ahead of time, with an emphasis on creating a nutritionally-dense, well balanced plate.
“Planning your meals can be a simple and effective holiday resolution because it allows you to take control of what you eat and when, reducing the chances of making unhealthy or impulsive food choices,” says Gabriela Rodríguez Ruiz, MD, PhD, FACS, a board-certified bariatric surgeon at VIDA Wellness and Beauty. “Meal planning also saves time and money as you can plan out what groceries you need in advance, avoiding unnecessary trips to the store,” she tells Best Life.
READ THIS NEXT: Doing This When You Walk Slashes Your Risk of Heart Attack, Cancer, and Dementia, New Study Says.
Rachel MacPherson, a certified personal trainer and nutrition coach, says that rather than planning restrictively, you should strive to add healthy things to your life. She suggests enhancing your health routine with “extra veggies at every meal, more fiber, more water, more sleep, more movement that you love, and more joy—all of those things will not only make you healthier and happier but will inevitably support a healthy weight balance.”
Though many people focus on weight loss in the new year, experts say you may have more success by setting more focused exercise goals. “Set a specific and achievable goal, such as running a target distance or doing a certain number of push-ups or squats each day,” suggests Shelby Lane, a certified personal trainer and co-founder of Bellabooty Fitness. “Focus on staying committed to the routine rather than worrying about a result.”
Wondering just how much exercise it takes to start seeing results? Getting up and moving for 150 minutes per week—or 30 minutes per day, five days a week—provides notable benefits to your health and longevity, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Putting your mental health first can be a challenge, but making a plan ahead of time can help. That’s why Katie Lorz, LMHC, a mental health expert, educator, and psychotherapist in Washington state suggests creating a cheat sheet of coping skills for stress, anxiety, and burnout.
“Mental health and well-being impacts every other area of life: relationships, finances, work, physical health, spiritual connection, and more,” Lorz tells Best Life. She adds that reflecting on your routine practice of self care will help you “get to know yourself better, understand what’s important to you, and work towards goals that reflect your beliefs, values, and priorities”—all of which will serve you as you head into the new year.
If you’re looking for a truly simple way to upgrade your health in the new year, making the resolution to floss takes just minutes each day.
“Focusing on oral health can dramatically impact overall health,” notes Tim Donley, DDS, a dentist in Bowling Green, Kentucky. “[This] is a great time to work with a dental professional to get your mouth healthy and keep it that way. Ask them about maintaining a preferred level of oral health over your lifespan, as well as the tools that will give you the best chance to keep your mouth healthy,” he suggests.
For more health news sent directly to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.
Another easy change that takes little effort is adding more water to your daily routine. “Commit to drinking a certain amount of water every day! Most people do not drink nearly enough water, and this is an easy thing to improve if you build a habit around it,” says Lane.
Not sure how much to aim for? The U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine says that men should consume about 15.5 cups of fluids per day, while women require about 11.5 cups of fluid per day. Roughly 20 percent of your daily intake will likely come from food—the rest is up to your hydration routine.
Self care is always important, but it can be especially crucial during—and immediately after—the holiday season. “The holidays can be a busy and stressful time of year, so it’s important to take some time out for yourself,” says Rodriguez Ruiz, who suggests taking a relaxing bath, reading a book, or spending time with your hobbies and interests each day.
“Making time for yourself is important to ensure that you have the energy and motivation to make the most of the holiday season,” she tells Best Life. “This resolution can also help promote healthy habits such as mindfulness and self-care, which are essential for managing stress levels.”