I believe in making New Year’s resolutions

By Adele Stenson, MSU Extension Agent

I believe in making New Year’s Resolutions.

Have I ever looked back at the end of the year and said I had completed one successfully? Not yet, but this could be the year. Many people scoff at resolution makers, but guess what? People who make resolutions are far more likely to at least make progress in the right direction than those who don’t.  There is some strategy to achieving your resolutions.

One is to be realistic. It’s not realistic to think you’re going to shed the 20 pounds you’ve added over the past 10 years in just two months. It’s also not realistic to think that you are never going to purchase anything that is not an absolute necessity when you are trying to save money. Budgets, like diets, are very hard to stick to if they are too strict.

When you think about resolutions, be realistic. What is something you can really achieve? Maybe losing 10 pounds over the course of a year with good lifestyle choices is a good start toward looking and feeling better.

Maybe shaving $10. a week off your grocery bill by reducing unnecessary items won’t shore up your retirement a lot, but in a savings account it could mean a whole lot less stress if you have unexpected bills pop up during the coming year.

If better health is on your New Year’s Resolution list this year, I have a few tips from Eat Right Montana that may help you find success in 2010.

First of all, focus on filling your kitchen with nutrient-rich foods. If I have potato chips and fruit both handy, the chips will end up in my mouth almost every time. But if I only purchase those chips on rare occasions, and have fruit, whole grain crackers, fresh vegetables, or string cheese available, I am very content to munch on one of those options. So, limit the empty calories that are in the house on a daily basis, and make sure you have plenty of tasty, healthy options that appeal to you and your family.

Many of us didn’t grow up cooking with whole grains or maybe have much experience with creative ways to prepare vegetables and fruits.

For some tested recipes to add excellent nutrition and new flavor to your menu, try the following:

For recipes using whole grains: www.wholegrainscoucil.org

For fruits and vegetables: www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org and   www.foodchamps.org

For calcium rich recipes: www.mealsmatter.org

For eggs, which is a lean, inexpensive source of protein: www.incredibleegg.org

If you are thinking about a New Year’s diet, consider going to www.mypyramid.gov.

This site can help you develop a balanced plan to reduce calories safely, without sacrificing the nutrients you need.

You won’t lose 30 pounds in two weeks, but you can begin to develop better eating habits that can lead to weight loss over time, and more importantly, better health.

Of course, you can’t think about better health without that pesky exercise component.  Many of us are so busy that carving out 60 minutes for exercise each day just does not seem like a possibility. So, start small. Add 10 minutes here and 15 minutes there, and you can build up to a total of 60 minutes throughout the day. So, take a spin around the block on your lunch hour, or take the dog for a short walk after work, or walk the stairs in your office building when everyone else clears out for the day. A pedometer is a great investment when you’re trying to get more active because you can monitor your movement trends. It’s a good motivator.

Whatever your resolutions may be, make a plan and timetable and be realistic.

Fifty years of bad habits won’t be undone in a year, but this can be the year you get headed on a better path to a better life. My issue is trying to choose just one of the many bad habits to try to focus on.

Happy New Years from Montana State University Extension.