Strive toward progress, not perfection

It doesn’t have to be all or nothing

women happy at tableContributed by Sukaina Ahmad, MD

If your New Year’s resolution is to lead a healthy lifestyle, good for you! But if that means nothing less than committing to exercise seven days a week, cutting all meat out of your diet and going cold turkey when it comes to sweets, sodium and caffeine, we should talk. Let’s face it…if you set unrealistic goals, chances are you’ll fail miserably or even worse, fear will prevent you from ever getting started. So instead of using all of your energy to achieve perfect health, I challenge each of you to focus on making coordinated steps toward living a healthier lifestyle. Here are six simple—but effective—health resolutions to start your journey.

  1. Eat a fruit or vegetable with every meal. Keep produce out on the counter where you can see it; that way you’re more likely to eat it.
  2. Don’t take your phone to bed. It’s hard to wind down to the tune of a “ping”-ing smart phone, and research shows screen time can contribute to sleep disturbances. Take your sleep seriously and truly unplug for 6-8 hours.
  3. Swap out the latte or soda for water. Water has many health benefits, from weight control to improved energy to better sleep. But the “eight 8-oz glasses” rule can be a bit overwhelming. Why not start out by replacing at least one coffee/soda/alcoholic drink per day with water?
  4. Move every day. That doesn’t mean hopping on the latest fitness craze or joining a fancy gym. Take the stairs, park in the farthest spot, actually take your dog or kids for a walk instead of just letting them out to play.
  5. Set a monthly date with friends. “We need to get together more often.” Sound familiar? Conflicting schedules can make it hard to cultivate relationships with friends. Put in the effort to find a set day and time that works for everyone; then, be consistent, and make it a priority to spend a few hours together each month.
  6. Perform a random act of kindness once a week. From paying the parking fee for the car behind you to paying someone a compliment, small acts can really make someone else’s day.

Over time, you’ll see that these small changes will become routine and you’ll be happier and healthier. Then, you can set your site on new challenges.

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