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The Top Three New Year’s Resolutions and How to Keep Them

Jan 03, 2013 09:41PM ● By Erin Frisch

The Top Three New Year’s Resolutions—and How to Keep Them

It’s New Year’s Eve, and you’re ready to toast the coming year with friends and family. Champagne glasses are raised and clinked together when the ball drops. A cheer goes up! Then comes the question—what’s your New Year’s resolution? People all across the country take time to reflect on the past year and decide what aspects of themselves and their lives they hope to change and improve upon in the year to come. Year after year we answer this question, and year after year many people share common resolutions. Here are three resolutions that just about every adult in the US has made at some time and tips on how you can make 2013 the year that you keep them.

Get Fit/Lose Weight

Recent studies have shown that over 66 percent of adult Americans are considered overweight or obese. It’s not surprising, then, that weight loss and improving fitness clock in as the most frequently made New Year’s resolutions. Regular exercise has been associated with more health benefits than anything else known to humans. Studies show that it reduces the risk of some cancers, lowers blood pressure, prevents osteoporosis, increases longevity, helps achieve and maintain weight loss, and enhances mood. Exercise doesn’t just keep your body healthy; it gives you a sense of well-being and boosts your confidence. Setting reasonable goals and staying focused are the two most important factors for sticking with weight loss and fitness programs. Rather than resolving to “lose weight,” make your goal reasonable and specific, such as losing a specific amount of weight or running a 5k race by a certain date. Hitting the gym to lose weight and get fit takes motivation. If you need help, commit to sessions with a personal trainer at a gym. You’ll learn how to do each exercise correctly to get the most out of your “sweat equity.” If you’d rather go it alone, consider home workout websites and programs. Check out The Daily HIIT and WarriorZ workouts for home workout programs with dedicated followings. And if you go the home route, express your goals to someone you see regularly who can keep you accountable (your spouse, a friend, a coworker, etc.). An exercise buddy is invaluable. It’s much harder to ditch a run or a walk when you know a friend is counting on you, no matter what Mother Nature is throwing at you. If you do exercise outdoors in our winter wonderland, invest in a pair of ice grippers that go over your shoes or boots (one brand is known as Yaktrax), so you don’t get sidelined by a fall.

Spend Less, Save More

We all want to save money, whether to lower our debt or save for a vacation or something else. Saving can be intimidating but not if you start small. Watch for coupons in the Sunday paper or on your favorite coupon websites. Many stores have their own websites where you can download and print coupons. You don’t have to be an extreme couponer, but look for savings on the items you buy regularly, whether at the supermarket, Target, or another store. When you’re grocery shopping, opt for produce in season. It will be your best buy, offering top quality and nutrition at the lowest price, or look through the circular and plan your meals around the produce and proteins that are on sale each week. To save more money, take advantage of club cards offered by stores like CVS, Rite Aid, and others. Put the amount you save each week into a jar or a savings account. It adds up faster than you might think. At the end of each quarter, put that amount toward outstanding debt, or save for a whole year and put it toward a trip or big-ticket item you need, such as an appliance or computer. You can also track your spending online or on your cell phone with a multitude of websites and apps. Another way to save without thinking about it is to set up your checking account to automatically transfer a small amount into a savings account each time you get paid or at the end of each month. If you choose to save as little as $25 a month, that's $300 by this time next year!

Quit Smoking

By now, we all know that smoking cigarettes dramatically increases your risks for heart disease, stroke, cancer, high blood pressure, and almost every other health concern, small or large. Why do so many people still smoke? Whether it is the physically addictive quality of nicotine or the psychological comfort it provides, quitting is just plain hard. As with the other resolutions mentioned here, start small to achieve big. If you're a pack-a-day smoker, leave one in the pack. When you stop feeling bothered by that, leave two. Alternatively, try buying only a pack at a time and carrying just two or three cigarettes with you (try putting them in an Altoids tin). Eventually you’ll find that when you want a smoke, you won’t have any on hand. That will help slowly wean you to fewer cigarettes. It’s hard, but the payoffs are undeniable, both for your health and your wallet. Tie this into the goal to save money, and you’re killing two birds with one stone. And since smoking cessation enhances physical fitness, that’s another two-fer you can celebrate! Save the money you would normally spend on cigarettes and put it toward something rewarding. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers a lot of resources on how to quit smoking. Check them out and add them to your resolution arsenal.

What resolutions are you planning on keeping this year?

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