When writing your goals for the upcoming year, instead of thinking, “I need to become healthy,” think, “I need to become healthier.” Rather than making one extensive plan that will most likely fall apart, pinpoint main areas of personal health concerns. Everyone’s needs are different. Some of us need to lose a few pounds or need to remain in shape; some of us even need to eat healthier foods to improve digestive health.
When trying to find a healthier you …
- Make two to three simple yet specific goals and stick to them for 21 days. For example: “I will keep good posture when sitting at my desk to prevent back problems.” Good posture is proven to both wake you up and improve oxygen intake, which leads to greater brain retention and will help prevent back problems. Every 20 minutes or so, remind yourself to straighten your back or move the computer screen to the ideal position for your eyes and hands.
- Plan to eat three meals and one snack a day. Simple goals like these not only give you flexibility in your daily routine but also provide general guidelines for you to keep up with your plan.
- Make a checklist. Believe it or not, for many people, it is helpful to write down their daily goals and cross them off as they achieve them. This serves as a little reward to yourself as you achieve your daily goals. It is also proven that writing goals down raises the chances of them getting achieved by 67 percent.
- Have a purpose. Why do you want to be healthier this year? How will this personally make you and your life better? A lot of us struggle with losing weight but we don’t even know why we want to lose weight. Putting a reason behind losing weight will mean that you are more likely to be motivated to achieve your health goals.
- For example: “I will lose weight to lower my high blood pressure.” If you are losing weight to help your medical condition, then you are more likely to stick to your goal and not quit. When you think about quitting, you will immediately think about the threat of high blood pressure and thus will ideally bounce back on your track.
- Do something you enjoy. Studies show that we are more committed to our goals when we are doing something we like within the progress toward the objective. Whether it is a psychology class that we enjoy or a favorite outdoor activity, we are more likely to study or practice if it brings us happiness or comfort. If you like parks and being outdoors to admire the scenery (which UCR is full of!), make a plan to walk 10 minutes a day in the park next to your house or apartment, or take the longer scenic route to your class.
- Walk more — no gym clothes involved. An easy practice to help you walk a little more than usual is to take the long way to class instead of using shortcuts. Those of you who cut to get to the Orbach Science Library through the geology or physics buildings: You are missing out on getting exercise while going to study!
- Stand more. Simple practices like standing up to talk to friends, or even getting up from your desk every 30 minutes, not only helps your heart pump more blood to your brain but also burns calories as opposed to if you were to remain sitting down.
|Activity||Calories burned every 10 minutes|
|Walking from class and back||29|
|Studying with good posture||45|
(Source: Shape Sense Activity-Based Calorie Burn Calculator)
As you can see, moving continuously makes a big difference. It raises the heart rate initially until your heart is trained to tolerate this as normal, which in return lowers the resting rate of the heart. That in itself prevents many heart problems in the future.
Maintain your New Year’s resolutions.
- Start with small realistic goals and increase in intensity as the year progresses.
- Add at least 10 additional minutes of movement into your daily routine. Incorporate regular daily movement like vacuuming, parking your car further, walking your dog or taking the longer route for class.
- Check for good posture. It prevents injury and strengthens back and core muscles.
- Walk 10 minutes after each meal. Doing so speeds up your metabolic process.
- Achieving a health plan by yourself is possible but it is more likely to happen if you find a companion to do it with and to encourage you. Creating a small, friendly competition actually forces people to achieve their plans. A little fun never hurt anyone!
- While engaging in your amiable competition, remember the three S’s: Smart, sincere, safe.
Be kind to yourself but also be patient.
It’s okay to skip a day in keeping up with your plan. As long as you get back to it and continue following it regularly, you are fine. Priorities change, so make adjustments to your plan gradually as it best fits your schedule.