If you’d like to make a healthy New Year’s resolution this year but don’t want to set a goal that’s too lofty, we understand. After all, you want to set yourself up for success (unlike that time you swore to never eat carbs again).
Don’t worry — we’ve got you. Here’s a list of 20 New Year’s resolution ideas that are easy to stick to. Choose two or 20: All are simple and direct and will help you on your path to better health and wellness. Cheers to a new year and a healthier you!
1. Drink more water
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Drink up! Getting enough fluids every day is important for your overall health, and water can be a particularly good choice because it contains zero calories, sodium or sugar. While recommendations for exactly how much water you should drink daily vary,1 a general rule of thumb is to aim for eight, 8-ounce glasses per day or about half your weight in ounces. You may need more depending on where you live (based on the climate) and your activity level. And make sure to listen to your body — if you’re thirsty, reach for some H20. Here are 10 other tips for drinking more water every day.
Drinking water isn’t the only way to help you stay hydrated. If your water intake could use a boost, try loading up on fruits and vegetables that have a high water content, such as citrus fruit, cucumbers, melons, squash, strawberries and zucchini.
Challenge yourself to drink a glass of water with every meal to start — then try sipping water between meals to reach eight glasses a day. Add lemon, cucumber or lime to boost the flavor factor!
2. Move more
Are you ready to “move it, move it” in 2021? Getting your daily does of activity isn’t just great for your health (regular exercise has been shown to help improve or even prevent conditions like arthritis, asthma, dementia, diabetes, heart disease and more2), but there’s evidence that it might also boost your mood.3
If you want to start an exercise routine (or amp up your existing routine a bit), set a goal to move 10 more minutes per day, then bump up your time gradually. Your ultimate goal should be to get a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise per week, or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity (or a combination of both). Once you’re getting the recommended amount of activity, start adding in muscle-strengthening exercises, such as working out with weights or exercise bands, at least two days per week.4
3. Eat more fiber
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Fiber is a vital part of a healthy diet, but chances are, if you’re like most Americans, you might not be getting enough of it.5 According to the Harvard School of Public Health,5 adults need a minimum of 20-30 grams of fiber per day, yet most Americans get only about 15 grams. To boost your intake, focus on fruits and vegetables, legumes, nuts and whole grains, the experts at Harvard suggest. Here are a few other tips to try:5
- Choose whole fruit over fruit juice. (Just be mindful of your intake if you’re trying to lose weight.)
- Substitute out white rice, bread and pasta for whole-grain versions like brown rice and whole-grain pasta.
- Want a snack? Go for raw vegetables instead of chips or crackers.
4. Get more (or better) sleep
When was the last time you logged eight hours of restful, uninterrupted sleep? If you can’t remember — this New Year’s resolution idea might be perfect for you.
The National Sleep Foundation6 recommends that most adults get 7-9 hours of sleep per night. But quantity isn’t all that matters; quality does, too. In addition to paying attention to the number of hours you clock per night, take these steps to help you sleep better:7
- Don’t eat too close to bedtime. Also, ditch carbonated drinks, which can trigger indigestion. (Here are the worst foods to eat if you’re trying to get good sleep.)
- Avoid alcohol. Even though you might fall asleep faster, your sleep can be disrupted later as your body processes the alcohol.
- Get regular exercise. Just 10 minutes of aerobic exercise can help you sleep better.
- Set the right temp. Your bedroom should be cool to get the best sleep, preferably between 60° and 67° F.
5. Aim to lose weight if you need to
It’s one of the most common New Year’s resolutions that people set every year: lose weight. But the goal here doesn’t necessarily need to be getting back to your wedding day or high school graduation weight; rather, improving your overall health is a great place to start. Establish a healthy, reasonable goal that you’re likely to achieve — such as losing 5-10% of your current weight. While such a loss may seem modest, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention8 say it can bring such health benefits as improved blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugars. And who wouldn’t want that in the new year?
Looking for a delicious, effective, proven weight loss program? Jenny Craig offers a variety of menu plans designed to fit your lifestyle and includes a personal weight loss coach to help you reach your goals. View our healthy meal plans here.
6. Focus on self-care
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If you’re like a lot of other people, you may have let yourself fall to the back of the line when it comes to your priorities. But it’s vital that you take proper care of yourself — not only for your own health and happiness, but for your family’s as well. After all, if you’re physically and emotionally depleted, you’ll have less to give to the people you care about.
Quick self-care tips:
- Go for a walk
- Take 5 minutes for yourself
- Savor a warm cup of tea
- Listen to your favorite podcast
- Get a pedicure
- Do something just for you that makes you smile!
7. Eat more vegetables
As much as you don’t want to admit it, your mom’s advice about eating your vegetables was spot on. Low in calories and fat, vegetables help fill you up and provide a plethora of beneficial nutrients — a boon for people who are trying to lose weight and get healthy. Most veggies are packed with fiber, folate, potassium, and vitamins A and C. And that’s not all: Eating a healthy diet rich in vegetables may help reduce the risk of heart disease, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)9 reports.
Most people need between 1 and 3 cups of vegetables per day depending on their age, sex and activity level, the USDA says. Any vegetable or 100% vegetable juice goes toward your daily quota; vegetables also may be raw or cooked, fresh or frozen, canned, or dried/dehydrated.10
To work more vegetables into your diet, try adding cooked broccoli, mushrooms or zucchini to pasta sauces; substitute riced cauliflower for white rice; and use lettuce leaves instead of tortillas for wraps.
8. Try a new activity
Feel like your day-to-day is a little monotonous? This New Year’s resolution idea might get you out of your funk. Sticking with your tried-and-true activities is great, but try challenging yourself to learn a new skill. Doing so may help keep your mind sharp, research shows.
In a small study of older adults,11 those who learned a new, demanding skill that involved high-level cognitive processes — in this case, digital photography or quilting — showed improvements in memory compared to those who engaged in less-demanding activities, such as completing word puzzles or listening to classical music.
So take a language class, learn to knit — whatever appeals to you and keeps your mind active and engaged.
9. Give yourself permission to say “no”
It can be easier said than done — but when you’re feeling overwhelmed, whether it’s because of work, family or too many Zoom calls — give yourself permission to decline invitations that don’t serve you. Check-in with your feelings and honor your own needs. Because 2021 should be all about living your best life!
10. Stay on top of doctor’s appointments and tests
Getting your yearly checkup may not be at the top of your list, but scheduling this and other appointments (like your all-time favorite teeth cleaning), is really important. Think of it like getting routine oil changes for your car: You’ll help keep your engine running smoothly for many years to come.
11. Stressed? Take steps to address it
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Unfortunately, stress has become an almost ubiquitous part of modern life, and it’s not always great for your overall health or happiness. According to the American Psychological Association (APA),12 chronic stress has been linked to a number of health problems, including migraine and tension headaches; digestion issues; and an increased risk of heart attack, hypertension or stroke.
To help manage stress, the APA recommends that you find and maintain a social support network, exercise regularly and get enough sleep each night. Other experts suggest that activities such as yoga, tai chi, meditation and deep diaphragmatic breathing also may ease stress.13-16
12. Quit smoking
Experts agree: smoking is detrimental to your overall health. It’s also one of the leading causes of death that can be prevented.17 If you’ve tried to quit in the past, make 2021 the year you ditch the habit for good. You’ll help your heart health and potentially reduce your risk of lung cancer and stroke.17
13. Find something to laugh at
Having a good belly laugh not only makes you (and others) feel good, but it can help reduce the stress hormone cortisol.18 This is important because consistently high levels of cortisol might lead to other health problems, the Mayo Clinic reports,19 including anxiety, digestive difficulties, headaches, sleep problems and weight gain.
14. Practice mindful eating
Has eating at your desk, in front of the TV or while scrolling through your phone become a too-regular thing for you? If so, why not make a pledge to ditch those bad habits? You might find that you enjoy your meals more if you’re present and mindful during them. (Plus, research indicates that distracted eating might lead to weight gain.20)
15. Give back
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In addition to the benefits it brings to society, volunteering can be good for you both mentally and physically. Experts21 say that doing philanthropic work can help relieve stress, anxiety and depression; increase feelings of happiness; boost your self-confidence; and provide you with a sense of purpose. And if you’re doing physical work, it can provide important exercise benefits.
Make it your goal to volunteer in 2021. A few ideas include helping out at your community animal shelter, participating in a beach cleanup or pitching in at a local soup kitchen.
16. Reconnect with family and friends
Have you been lax when it comes to staying in touch with people who are important to you? Make an effort to reconnect — you’ll be glad you did. And so will they!
Some ideas to get started: Give your friend a quick call when you’re out for a walk. Or video chat with your long-distance relatives at the end of each month.
17. Wear sunscreen
Even in winter! If you use makeup, try picking one with SPF in it. Or, try putting on sunscreen (even if it’s just on your face) before you leave the house in the morning.
18. Unplug every day
Whether it’s checking your email numerous times per day, looking at various forms of social media or burying yourself in the news, chances are you’re spending a good amount of time in front of a screen. Why not make a pledge to unplug, even if just for an hour or two each day? Doing so may very well make you feel more a part of your own life and less of a witness to someone else’s.
19. Ditch fast food
We get it: Life is busy, especially if you’re working or have a family to tend to. It can be easy to fall into a fast-food or drive-thru habit, but both can be bad for your waistline — and your wallet.
Why not set aside a few hours a week to meal prep for the next few days (here are 13 meal prep tips for weight loss to get you started). Preparing and cooking your own meals doesn’t have to be time-consuming; something as simple as a green salad and roasted chicken makes for a simple, delicious, healthy meal. If you don’t have the time to meal prep — Jenny Craig has you covered with our convenient meal delivery service.
20. Cut back on the booze
It's one of the easiest ways to lose weight, sleep better and boost your energy: Cut back on alcohol. Not only are alcoholic beverages chock-full of empty calories that can contribute to weight gain, but drinking them regularly could also impact other areas of your health. Alcohol has been shown to alter deep sleep, impact your mood and could negatively affect your heart health.22
So instead, try a 30-day "no drink" challenge. In fact, there are many benefits of dry January, such as saving money, losing weight and being more active. Replace sugary cocktails for sparkling water spritzers. Add fun garnishes like rosemary sprigs, lime or lemon wedges or even a dash of cinnamon!
Whether one or several of our tips pique your interest, we hope we’ve given you plenty of New Year’s goal ideas you can adopt as your own. Here’s to a healthy and happy 2022!
Is one of your New Year’s resolutions to lose weight and get healthier? Browse our delicious healthy meal plans and find out just how effective a Jenny Craig plan, personalized just for you, can be!
Carole is an award-winning journalist based in Southern California who specializes in health and wellness topics. Her work has appeared in Parents, Fit Pregnancy, Mom & Baby, Yahoo News, Viv magazine and Lifescript. She's won several national awards for her work including a National Science Award and two National Health Information awards. A frequent contributor to Jenny Craig’s Blog, Healthy Habits, she enjoys gardening, spending time at the beach and adopting far too many rescue animals in her spare time.
Favorite healthy snack: jicama dipped in homemade hummus
Briana is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Personal Trainer for Jenny Craig, based in Carlsbad, California. She is passionate about utilizing food as functional and preventative medicine. Guided by a simplistic and optimistic approach, Briana’s philosophy is to help people improve their health and achieve their goals through the development of sustainable habits to live a healthy life. In her free time, you can find her strength training, indoor cycling, coffee tasting, and at local eateries with her husband and two dogs.
Favorite healthy snack: peanut butter with celery alongside a grapefruit-flavored sparkling water (so refreshing!)
This article is based on scientific research and/or other scientific articles and was written by an experienced health and lifestyle contributor and fact-checked by Briana Rodriquez, RDN, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist at Jenny Craig.
Our goal at Jenny Craig is to provide the most up-to-date and objective information on health-related topics, so our readers can make informed decisions based on factual content. All articles undergo an extensive review process, and depending on topic, are reviewed by a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) or Nutritionist, to ensure accuracy.
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