New year, new you? This time of year, it’s hard to escape the New Year’s resolution trap. Did you know that each year, only about 8% of people stick to their resolutions? As a private practice dietitian, I think a big reason for that is because most people set punishing resolutions, committing to giving up things they love, or exercise routines that are impossible to keep up with.

If you really want to make permanent changes in the new year, think about positive New Years Resolution’s – health-promoting habits you can add to your life. When you focus on doing something simple and enjoyable, it’s easy to create a new habit. Here are 6 examples of positive New Year’s resolutions that will actually stick:

1. Find a workout you enjoy

Instead of picking a workout based on what burns the most calories, think about what kind of exercise (or movement, as I like to call it) you actually enjoy. Shift your mindset to think about the other more important benefits of working out – stress relief, feeling stronger, cardiovascular health, and flexibility, to name a few. Studies show if you’re not enjoying your workout, you’re not getting as much benefit from it. This new year, give yourself the freedom to try different types of movement and discover what’s fun for you. Consider less intense kinds of exercise, like yoga or walking. Or, look beyond the gym and try running, or going for a bike ride outside. Remember, there’s no right way to exercise, just what’s right for you!

2. Get in the kitchen more often

You don’t have to be an expert to learn how to whip up simple, tasty dishes that also make you feel good. Cooking at home helps you save money, get creative, and make healthier, more exciting meals.

3. Try a new recipe each week

Are you relying on the same recipes week after week? Remember, variety is the spice of life, and eating a wide variety of foods is an important component of good nutrition. Invest in a new cookbook, or check out a new blogger for inspiration. Pick out a new recipe each week that you’re excited to try – it may become a family favorite!

4. Allow yourself to eat foods you enjoy

Instead of going into the new year with intentions of giving up all your favorite foods, make a resolution to honor your cravings and eat the foods you love! It may seem counterintuitive, but allowing yourself to eat favorite foods, even if they’re not “healthy,” is actually better for you in the long run. That’s because setting a food as off-limits makes it more tempting, and you’ll eat a lot more of it when you finally break down.

5. Develop better self-care practices

Do you have a routine for self-care? Why not make it a resolution to take better care of yourself, not by dieting or punishing yourself at the gym, but by taking care of your mind and spirit. After all, stress, sleep, and social connection play a bigger role in health than food and fitness. Make a resolution to take time to de-stress, maybe with a relaxing bath or meditation practice. Try turning off the TV before bed and reading instead, so you can get a better night of sleep. Make plans to catch up with an old friend who lifts you up and supports you.

6. Pack a lunch for work

Falling into a rut of greasy takeout for lunch that puts you into a food coma all afternoon? When hunger strikes and you don’t have food available (or much time for a break) it’s hard to make a healthy food choice. Instead, start packing enjoyable lunches that leave you feeling energized and ready to take on the afternoon. Think about bringing leftovers, or let Performance Kitchen do the work for you! Stock your freezer so you always have a grab and go lunch ready.

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