UAB experts say to keep New Year’s resolutions simple

Small changes can be easier to stick with and add up to better health.

Many people who resolve to get fit or lose weight in January tend to start strong but taper off within weeks. University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) experts recommend starting the New Year with simple changes, because too much change can be a recipe for failure.

resolutions_s“One easy option is to replace high-calorie, sugary beverages with zero-calorie options like water or diet soda,” said Lindsey Lee, R.D., director of the EatRight by UAB Weight Management Services program.

Lee also suggested focusing on portion control by using a food scale, measuring cups, measuring spoons or simply changing a plate.

“Serve your meals on a salad plate rather than a traditional dinner plate to help keep your portions in control,” said Lee. “Also consider colors, temperatures, textures and flavors of each food on your plate. This will help you slow down so you can enjoy every bite.”

Becoming more physically active is also important to overall health, and it can be done with small changes.

“You don’t need to adopt an elaborate gym routine to get benefits from physical activity,” said David M. Morris, Ph.D., vice chair of the Department of Physical Therapy. “Simple changes in a few of your habits can make a big difference.”

Simple steps to better health:
  • Replace high-calorie beverages with water
  • Focus on portion control
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator
  • Use a pedometer to reach 10,000 steps daily
  • Keep a food intake and exercise journal
  • Ask a friend to keep you accountable

Morris suggested taking the stairs instead of the elevator and walking instead of driving when possible, washing cars by hand instead of using the drive-through wash and making a Saturday morning walk a family routine. He also recommended using a pedometer to reach at least 10,000 steps every day.

According to Lee and Morris, keeping up with daily food intake and minutes spent exercising is easy with the help of journaling apps like My Net Diary, LoseIt or My Fitness Pal.

With improvements in diet and activity benefiting both physical and emotional wellbeing, Lee suggested that getting some backup is well worth the effort.

“Ask a friend, co-worker or family member to help keep you accountable to your goals for 2013,” said Lee. “A little accountability and encouragement goes a long way.”