by Jessica Daniels

It’s that time of year again, when people gather up their best intentions for living a healthier life and make New Year’s resolutions. However, if you’ve ever made a resolution, you know it isn’t easy to keep. In fact, most people only make it a couple of months into the new year before breaking their resolutions.

Luckily, the American Medical Association (AMA) has some suggestions on which pledges pack the most punch. If you focus on the ones that are most likely to have the greatest impact instead of making a long list of goals that are unattainable, you will be more likely to follow through.

“Many people kick off the start of each new year with big-picture health resolutions — ambitious, immediate lifestyle changes that are very difficult to maintain,” AMA president Dr. Jack Resneck Jr. said in an association news release. “The good news is that small, positive health choices made right now can have long-lasting effects.”

The key is to make resolutions with are targeted goal instead of a broader one. This will make your goals seem much more attainable and less intimidating.

1. Exercise for a set time each week

Start by being more physically active. Adults should do at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity activity or 75 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity activity, the AMA recommends.

2. Manage your stress with a good diet

Try to get at least 7.5 hours of nightly sleep, daily exercise and wellness activities, such as yoga and meditation. Ask for help from a mental health professional when you need it.

3. Eat fewer processed foods and sugar-sweetened beverages

You should especially steer clear of foods with added sodium and sugar. Eat less red meat and processed meats, replacing these with more plant-based foods, such as olive oil, nuts and seeds.

4. Drink water in place of sugar-sweetened beverages.

Even 100% fruit juices are associated with a higher all-cause mortality risk.

5. Drink alcohol in moderation.

Alcohol should be consumed only in moderation, with up to one drink per day for women and two for men.

6. Find the best approach to help you quit smoking.

If you use tobacco or e-cigarettes, talk to your doctor about how to quit. Keep your home and car smoke-free to eliminate secondhand exposure.

7. Get up to date on your vaccines.

Get your vaccines. The whole family should be up to date on all of their vaccines, including the flu shot and COVID-19 vaccine.

8. Stay up to date on screenings.

Millions of cases of breast, colon and prostate cancers may have been missed because of pandemic-related care disruptions.

9. Know your blood pressure numbers.

You can better understand what’s right for you by visiting Controlling high blood pressure will reduce your risk of heart attack or stroke.

10. Learn your risk for type 2 diabetes.

You can do this with a two-minute online self-screening test at Lifestyle changes made now can help prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes.

11. Take your medication properly.

If taking prescription opioids or other medications, follow your doctor’s instructions, store them safely to prevent diversion or misuse, and properly dispose of any leftover medication. Always take antibiotics exactly as prescribed.

These are all small goals, but goals that can have a huge impact on your health. Here’s to a healthier you in 2023!