New Year's Resolution REVOLUTION!Fri 04 Jan 2013
Story by Dr. Walter Willett
New Year’s resolutions are notoriously difficult to follow. Every January, millions of people commit to lose weight or make another change toward leading a healthier life in the new year—and every year, millions of people struggle to follow through.
When you boil it down, having a healthier lifestyle is about two simple things (in addition to not smoking): eating better and being active. You don’t need to decide you’re going to run a marathon, or cut out many of the foods you love, to see real health gains. In fact, studies conducted by Harvard School of Public Health show that the key to choosing a healthy diet is choosing one that works for you. Many popular diets, such as a low-fat diet or Atkins diet, do result in modest weight loss over several months—but over the course of a year, compliance drops and much of the weight lost is regained.
That’s why this New Year’s, we want you to try a resolution revolution: Commit to a healthy change that is simple, smart, and appealing to you—the kind of resolution that science shows is possible to stick to over time—and you’ll have a better chance of making it part of your life year-round.
Here are three simple changes you can consider making this year that will make a real difference for your health:
• Use your lunch break a few times each week to take a walk. Even if you end up only walking once a week, that’s still one more walk per week than you took in 2012. The key is to remember that any activity is better than none—and the more you like the activity you are doing (whether it’s playing with your kids, walking, taking a dance class, gardening, etc.) the more likely you are to keep it up.
• Fill half your plate at every meal with fruits and veggies (remember that potatoes don’t count as a vegetable!). Learn more what a complete Healthy Eating Plate looks like here, but if you stick to the fruit and veggie rule, that’s a huge step toward a healthier diet overall.
• Cut out sugar-sweetened beverages (fruit juice and sugary sodas). Those drinks can add several hundred calories a day to your diet without you even realizing it.
Eating better isn’t just about losing weight—but maintaining a healthy weight is key to preventing heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, and many different cancers. So if your goal is to lose weight in the New Year, remember the rule of thumb above: the most important thing about the weight-loss diet you choose is that it’s one you like.
Finally, no matter what resolution you settle on, getting support along the way is key. Tell your friends and family about your goal and ask for their help sticking to it. We want to check in with you too, so stay tuned for more information on our New Year's Resolution Revolution Google+ Hangout with the Food Revolution to share how your resolution is going and share tips for sticking to your goal well past January.
Here’s to a happier, healthier you—not just this month, but all year round.
About the author: Dr. Walter Willett is the Fredrick John Stare Professor of Epidemiology and Nutrition, as well as the Chair of the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health.
Image Credits: CSPI, Ambassador Sofia Fortuna of Sao Paolo
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