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COLUMN: Healthy Living - No more New Year's resolutions

Although New Year’s is really just a date on a calendar, for so many people it marks the beginning of a new start. Even if the previous calendar year was happy and healthy, it’s become a tradition to make those New Year’s resolutions. We begin with determination and good intentions, only to fizzle out somewhere around the two to four week mark.

It’s not because we are weak, have no willpower or don’t care. Whatever behavior we are trying to change has probably been in place for a long period of time and patterned behavior becomes a habit. Habits can certainly be changed, but it takes consistent, daily effort over time.

This year, instead of making your resolution a big change that will be difficult to maintain long-term unless someone is keeping you accountable, try choosing small changes that you can follow daily. They will still move you towards your goals. After that one becomes a natural part of your daily regimen, move on to another.

Here is a list of some ideas:

•Instead of “getting in shape,” buy a pedometer and increase your steps daily. Make your goal attainable. If you start at 1,500 steps, don’t use 10,000 steps as your goal. Baby steps… pun intended.

•Instead of overhauling your diet, drink water with sliced lemons, lime or cucumbers instead of soda, sugared drinks or caffeinated beverages.

•Don’t declare donuts and cookies off-limits. Have snacks like homemade trail mix, veggies and hummus, apples and peanut butter, whole grain crackers and cheese or baked tortilla chips and salsa readily available. Our food environment helps keep us successful.

•Rather than “getting more sleep,” begin a 15-minute sleep routine that is enjoyable, relaxing and does not include any electronics (the blue rays disrupt melatonin and sleep cycles).

•Turn, ”I will not overeat” into, “I will slow down when eating.” It takes our brain 20 minutes to register fullness, so eating slowly increases the likelihood that you will eat less if you pay attention to fullness.

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