Resolving to get healthier in the New Year? Start small.

American Heart Association

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    Jan 04
    Resolving to get healthier in the New Year? Start small.

    Resolving to get healthier in the New Year? Start small.

    American Heart Association

    Don’t feel too bad if your celebration setting was on maximum this holiday season. Look ahead to a fresh start in 2023. The key to a healthier you will be making small, simple changes and sticking to them.

    “The best chance for success is to have a realistic plan that works for you,” said Lisa Hodgson, clinical nutrition manager at Saratoga Hospital. She’s a registered dietitian and Fellow of the Association of Diabetes Care and Education Specialists.AHA

    Grand New Year’s resolutions about eating and exercise aren’t the answer, she said, noting that nearly half of resolution-makers give up by February. The second Friday in January is actually known as “Quitters Day.”

    Sustaining positive change involves small steps and an individual approach. “It’s not a cookie-cutter situation,” Hodgson said. “It’s what works for you.” 

    She emphasized three starting strategies for the new year:

    • Drink more water.

    • Move more.

    • Think when you eat.

    Small steps apply even to hydrating. “Eight glasses of water a day can be daunting,” Hodgson said. “Increase by one glass, then three, then four.” 

    Drinking more water can help pace eating. “It’s a neutral beverage that can fill you up without calories,” Hodgson said. She also advocates a glass of water between alcoholic beverages.

    Exercise can be a daunting word for many people who associate it with gym memberships and “cute exercise wear,” Hodgson said. But moving more can be as simple as getting more steps in every day. 

    Park farther out in the parking lot than you have to. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Make an extra lap around the grocery store before checking out. Even if you’re glued to your phone for work calls, you don’t have to be glued to your chair. Make it a habit to talk and walk.

    Healthier eating begins with mindfulness. “You tend to eat more the faster you eat,” Hodgson said. She advised people to slow down and sit down to their meals, “not doing 10 other things at the same time.”

    Making a realistic plan for a healthier new year can involve consulting with a professional. “The key to that is ongoing and long-term support to keep you motivated to continue,” Hodgson noted.

    At Saratoga Hospital, part of the Albany Med Health System, 16 registered dietitians and two diet technicians contribute to care teams for nutrition-related conditions such as heart disease, cancer, and weight management, as well as to primary care programs.