Healthy resolutions mean smaller objectives

ESCANABA — For many people in the area, New Year’s resolutions are focused on dieting and exercise. Northern Lights YMCA Nutritionist Denette Kirschner said that, while it can be all too easy to give up on New Year’s resolutions after a few weeks, a realistic attitude towards self-improvement can help people hoping to live a healthier life beat these odds.

According to Kirschner, one of the most common mistakes made by people whose New Year’s resolutions are related to health is trying to do too much too soon. Instead, these people should begin by trying to complete small, attainable objectives.

“The first thing is to set reasonable goals,” she said.

For example, people setting up a new exercise regimen should take things slowly at first.

“Start with small increments, just a few times a week,” she said.

Kirschner said it is also important for people to get in the habit of doing physical activities they will enjoy even after January is over.

“When it comes to fitness, setting goals to do activities you enjoy is important,” she said.

For those people who are just starting an exercise regimen, Kirschner recommended simple cardiovascular exercises.

“Beginners usually do best with something like … walking or swimming,” she said.

While some of the people planning to exercise more in 2017 are focusing on their physical fitness for the first time, others are trying to return to a more active lifestyle. Kirschner encouraged people in the latter group to give themselves grace and to start slow.

“It’s okay to rebuild that strength,” she said.

Another important part of living a healthy lifestyle is dieting — and, according to Kirschner, a successful diet begins with what people drink.

“First of all, focus on your hydration,” she said. She encouraged new dieters to focus on replacing sodas and juices with water.

Once they have done this, Kirschner said the next step for new dieters is to make changes to what they eat.

“I would focus on replacing artificial foods with ‘real’ foods,” she said. This can include replacing unhealthy snacks with fruits and vegetables and eating home-cooked meals instead of fast food when possible.

However, Kirschner noted that eating relatively unhealthy foods once or twice a week in moderate portions can be okay. In fact, this can actually make it easier for people to stick to their diets in the long run.

“I think that really helps people to keep on track,” she said.

Kirschner also advised people to avoid eating too much or too little while dieting.

“Make sure you’re eating something every 3-4 hours,” she said.

While everyone has bad days in terms of sticking to their diets and exercise plans, Kirschner said that it is important that people do not use these days as an excuse to quit entirely.

“Just keep trying,” she said.