It’s time to make 2013 your best year yet! Start the year off right by picking a New Year's resolution that’s fun and exiting, but also beneficial. Check out some of the outdated boring ideas listed below and try one of their surprisingly healthy alternatives instead. Whether you want to pick one and stick with it for 2013, or mix things up and try them all, they’re guaranteed to make the next 365 days great.
Out with the old: “I’m not going to make THAT mistake again.”
In with the new: “Make a point to think positively!”
A new year brings lots of new possibilities! Every new semester is filled with all kinds of challenges and assignments, but a fresh start also means a fresh set of opportunities! You never know if you’ll discover a new passion thanks to that elective you signed up for on a whim, or who you’ll end up sitting next to in your new labs and discussions. Studies conducted by the Mayo Clinic have shown that positive thinking can increase your life span, lower your risk of becoming depressed, help you develop a greater immunity to illnesses such as colds, and help build better coping skills when faced with stressful situations. Make a point to find the silver lining in situations, be proud of your unique qualities, and set positive goals to strive for throughout the year. Approach everything with a positive attitude, and you’ll set yourself up for an excellent year!
Out with the old: “I’m going to try daring new things.”
In with the new: “Volunteer!”
Sure you could spend break on a beach with your closest friends or sorority sisters or lay around your house all day, but neither of these options offers any direct health benefits. Consider using your spring break to volunteer instead! A report created by the Corporation for National and Community Service describes how volunteers enjoy “lower mortality rates, greater functional ability, and lower rates of depression later in life than those who do not volunteer.” Many colleges and universities offer alternative spring break programs that give students a chance to travel and meet a certain need in a new community. Other national programs like the Student Conservation Association, United Way and Habitat for Humanity also provide similar opportunities for college students to volunteer around the country. You can also seek out your own opportunities around your hometown or campus. Spend your break getting involved and giving back to your community!
Out with the old: “I’m going to eat more fruits and vegetables.”
In with the new: “Make an effort to try some local produce!”
Take advantage of summer growing seasons, and add fresh fruits and vegetables to your diet. Most cities have local farmers markets during the summer where you can find locally grown products. Some local farms even let you pick your own berries and other summer fruits. These homegrown alternatives are often healthier than what’s available in a store. Says Ellen Schuster, an Associate State Nutrition Specialist at the University of Missouri-Columbia, “[With local produce] you may have access to more varieties of fruits and vegetables than in the grocery store – produce has phytochemicals, antioxidants that ward off disease. There are thousands of these substances in produce. Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables ensures you get a variety of these phytochemicals and antioxidants in your diet.”Not exactly a five-a-day person? Try using fresh fruit in a smoothie or as a dessert topping to up your fruit and vegetable count for the day.
Out with the old: “I’m going to cut back on candy and other sweet treats.”
In with the new: “Learn to fix healthy snacks!”
Sitting in classes or at your job or internship can get tiring. It’s tempting to start reaching for Halloween candy or other sugary treats, but they won’t help you in the long run. Boost your energy with a healthy snack instead. Ashley Ritzo, a dietician at the University of Missouri explains, “increasing fruit and vegetable intake would have a positive effect on weight management. Fruits and vegetables are high in water content, volume and fiber which increase satiety for fewer calories than the same portion of foods from the grains or protein groups.” Try things like protein bars, almonds, raisins, and fresh fruits and veggies to help you make it until your next meal. All of these options have various vitamins, minerals, and fats that help you as you go about your daily routine. Things like protein bars also serve as great substitutes to items like candy bars that don’t offer near as many nutritional benefits. Check out this HC article for 10 more healthy and yummy snack recipes.
Out with the old: “I’m going to lose 5 pounds by spring break.”
In with the new: “I’m going to go to the gym three times a week.”
Need a little help getting out of the dorm and into the gym? Check out cool new sites like GymPact that rewards you with cash for working out. Based off an economic concept known as “time-inconsistent preferences,” the site requires you to make a “pact” pledging how many days per week you’ll visit the gym. Then, after you check in at your local gym using your smartphone, the program either charges you for missed days, or, rewards you for making it to your workout, all based on the terms of your pact! The more often you visit, the higher your reward will be.
What are your healthy New Year’s resolutions? Share them in a comment!
Kirsten Meltzer, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Class of 2015
Kelsey Mulvey, Boston University, Class of 2014
Tri Nguyen, University of St. Thomas, Class of 2015
Ashley Ritzo, Dietician at the University of Missouri-Columbia
Ellen Schuster, Associate State Nutrition Specialist at the University of Missouri-Columbia
“13 Healthy Habits to Improve Your Life”
“15 Easy Ways to Be Healthier”
“The Benefits of Being More Spontaneous”
“Benefits of Volunteering”
“Beyond veggies: the health benefits of chocolate, sex, sleep and social networks, from the Harvard Health Letter”
“Chocolate 'better than kissing'”
“Positive thinking: Reduce stress by eliminating negative self-talk”
“The Power of Positive Thinking”
“Top 10 Things That Are Surprisingly Good For You”
“Uses and Benefits of Journaling”