8 Health Goals to Make Now
Don't wait until January to make these simple changes.
Why wait till January to change your health for the better? You can implement small changes now that will result in good-for-you results (including more energy for healthy eating and exercise!) by the new year. We chatted with top health and nutrition experts for ideas.
1: Move more. You don’t have to spend hours a day at the gym to get the benefits of exercise—simply resolve to add in a little extra movement daily. Aim for 20 minutes or more, advises Lyssie Lakatos, RDN, CFT, a dietitian and personal trainer in New York City. “Movement will get blood flowing and release mood-boosting endorphins,” she says. Try this idea to get started: “Walk for 20 minutes a day, even if it just means that you’ll be stepping out your front door and walking briskly for 10 minutes before turning back,” says Tammy Lakatos Shames, RDN, CFT, co-creator of the 21-Day Body Reboot. “And if you feel you can exercise for longer, go for it!”
2: Make your next dentist appointment now. Take a second to pick up the phone and schedule your next dental cleaning. “I despise going to the dentist, so I’m going to schedule my regular dentist appointment now and not cancel the day before,” says Jennifer Bowers, PhD, RD, a dietitian in Tucson, AZ. “Dental health is critical, and we only get one set of teeth in our lifetime. Routine dental care not only keeps your teeth and gums healthy, but helps prevent more serious dental issues later.” Have a doctor’s appointment you’ve been dreading to make, too? Go ahead and get it on the books.
3: Eat more veggies. “Have a mixed green salad with dinner, or order one as an appetizer when you dine out,” says Keri Gans, RD, a dietitian and certified yoga teacher in New York City. “Veggies are packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber — and eating them before an entree can help fill you up so you are less likely to overeat.” Eating a family-style meal? Fill half your plate with vegetables.
4: Adopt Meatless Monday. Add more plant-based dishes to your meal rotation. “Cutting back on meat consumption and going vegetarian at least one day a week can improve your health,” says Sonali Ruder, DO, a physician in the emergency department at Coral Springs Medical Center in Fort Lauderdale, FL. “Eating more nutrient-dense foods like whole grains, vegetables, beans, lentils, and vegetables will increase your intake of essential vitamins and minerals and can help prevent chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers.”
5: Score more shut-eye. “Sleep deprivation may lead you to make unhealthy food choices and be less likely to exercise,” says Gans. “Adequate sleep can help make all your other goals a little easier to reach." Aim to get to bed an hour earlier, and create a wind-down routine to help you fall asleep faster. “Turning your cellphone on silent, drinking chamomile tea, and taking a hot bath are all good ways of winding your body down to promote better sleep,” says Ani Baran, L.Ac, an acupuncturist in Jersey City, NJ.
6: Cook at home more. If your go-to easy dinner involves the neighborhood Italian restaurant or Seamless.com several times a week, swap a few of those meals for home-cooked ones. Stock your kitchen with quick-prep ingredients, such as microwaveable brown rice, canned beans, and fresh and frozen veggies. “Research shows that people who cook most of their meals at home consume fewer carbohydrates, less sugar, and less fat than those who cook less or not at all,” says Angie Asche, MS, RD, owner of Eleat Sports Nutrition in Lincoln, NE. “And cooking at home allows you to be aware of how much sodium, fat, and sugar you are adding to your meals—as well as control the portion size!”
7: Start a windowsill garden. Take a drive to the hardware store this weekend to pick up what you need — or ask for some starter seeds as a stocking stuffer. "If you want to see both mental and physical benefits from adopting just one simple hobby this year, consider planting a small herb garden to sit on your windowsill,” suggests Emily Kyle, MS, RDN, owner of Emily Kyle Nutrition in Rochester, NY. “Research shows that tending to a plant, like a small herb garden, can help reduce stress and anxiety by creating a new appreciation for nature.” Plus, with produce at your fingertips, you’ll have an easier time reaching that goal to eat more veggies.
8: Practice positivity. “People who practice positivity and thankfulness have better immune systems and are able to reduce the stress that often makes health conditions worse,” says Baran. Do something nice for your partner, colleague, or friend today to spread the positivity.
Amy Gorin, MS, RDN, is a registered dietitian nutritionist and owner of Amy Gorin Nutrition in Jersey City, NJ. She’s a regular contributor to many publications, including EverydayHealth.com, NBCNews.com, Runner’s World, and more—as well as WeightWatchers.com, where she was a longtime editor. She also pens a recipe-focused blog, Amy’s Eat List.