8 healthy New Year’s resolutions


This year, millions of Americans will set goals to lose weight, exercise more, quit smoking … 

Northside Hospital wants to help you succeed. Check out these eight resolutions from our experts to help you plan for a happy, healthy and productive 2024. 

1. Get moving! 

Create “SMART” goals for yourself that are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound, said Dr. Torrance Laury with Northside Hospital Orthopedic Institute. 

“The New Year is an excellent opportunity to reset and refocus on your activity goals,” Dr. Laury said. 

“If you are a novice to exercising, an example of a reasonable SMART goal may be to increase your average daily step count by 1,000 each week for one month.” 

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Dr. Laury recommends jotting down your goals so you have a tangible reminder of what you are working toward as well as developing a plan for success that you can stick to. 

“Small, incremental milestones can really go a long way toward creating a healthier, happier YOU in 2024.” 

2. Eat plant-based foods. 

Eating fewer processed foods promotes a healthy weight, lowers blood pressure and blood sugar, and can even help to limit potential cancer risk. Clinical dietitian Emily Hamm recommends focusing on eating whole fruits, vegetables, whole grains and high-quality animal proteins. 

“Shop the outside perimeter of the grocery store versus shopping in the aisles,” Hamm said. 

“Packaged fruits and vegetables are OK to use when fresh is not available,” but look for foods with short ingredient lists. The fewer the ingredients in the food, the less processed. 

3. Cut your salt and sugar. 

While sodium is an essential nutrient, according to the American Heart Association (AHA), excess sodium in your bloodstream increases blood pressure and causes your heart to work harder. 

Hamm said when buying packaged foods look for labels with “no added salt” or “low sodium.” In general, try to limit the consumption of sodium to 2,000 milligrams daily. 

Packaged foods also can have hidden sugar. 

AHA recommends no more than 25 grams of added sugar per day for women and 36 grams for men. 

NOTE: A single 12-ounce can of soda can have 39 grams or more of sugar. 

Look for labels that say “no added sugar.” But Hamm recommends checking the ingredients list as sugar can have many different names (e.g., high fructose corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, corn syrup, malt syrup, honey, sweetener). 

4. Increase your fiber. 

Whole grains are a nourishing source of cholesterol-lowering fiber,” said Negin Bauer, a cardiology physician assistant at Northside. “Examples of whole grains include barley, brown rice, bulgur and oatmeal.” 

Choose bread, cereal and pasta products made from whole grains. Check the labels on wheat bread and choose loaves that are either 100% whole-wheat or have at least 3 grams of fiber per slice. 

5. Stop smoking! 

If you are still smoking even one cigarette per day, you may be dramatically increasing your risk of certain diseases like cancer or heart disease. Find a method that works for you — join a support group or discuss medication options with your doctor. 

Northside Hospital Cancer Institute’s Kenneth Haney said the best outcomes have a two-pronged approach — combining nicotine replacement therapy with counseling. 

“Nicotine addiction is very difficult to overcome,” said Haney. “Individuals who quit using the cold turkey method only have about a 3%-5% success rate. When using any form of nicotine replacement therapy, the success rate is more than doubled.” 

6. Drink more water. 

Your cells and organs depend on water to function, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Many factors impact how much water you need, including your age, sex, activity level and overall health. But, in general, women need about nine 8-ounce glasses, 13 cups for men, to replenish the amount of water that is lost each day. 

Water also can help you cut calories, said Northside dietitian Terri Duncan. “If you drink water before a meal or before a party, it may help to curb your appetite.” 

7. Commit to your emotional and mental health. 

Take 10 minutes to do something good for yourself every day. It can be as simple as a 10-minute walk around the neighborhood or your workplace. 

“Staying active helps control tension and boosts the body’s ability to deal with existing mental stress,” said Nikeisha Whatley-Léon, director of Northside’s behavioral health services. “It also helps with increased productivity, boosting mood and combatting symptoms of both depression and anxiety.” 

Set some time aside for yourself and the people and activities that make your life pleasurable. 

8. Give yourself grace. 

“Look back at your progress from the past year and use that to motivate you forward,” said Whatley-Léon, who reiterates setting smaller, attainable goals and going at your own pace. 

“Slip-ups are part of the process. … Baby steps are still moving you forward.” 

Choose to follow a healthier lifestyle in 2024. And remember to ask for help and support while trying to accomplish your New Year’s resolutions. 

Click below for more resources for healthy living. 


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