I’ve been a dietitian for 30 years. Hard to believe, but true. I’ve been a writer for 22 years, which means I have written thousands of articles, and often this time of year many were centered around “getting healthier in the new year”.

Well, the jig is up! 

It’s not about the new year, it’s about making changes, making healthy choices, now. Now. Now. Now. Health insurance plans are in turmoil, and while you don’t have control over everything, you do have control over some things. Do something now about the things you can control, that do impact your health:

Don’t Smoke.

  • Find a way quit. Enlist a friend or family member for support.
  • Find a smoking cessation class. Talk to your doctor.

Eat Less.

  • You can control the portion sizes of your food, and how frequently you eat.
  • You can still enjoy some high calorie foods, just reduce your portions
  • If you’re over 45, it’s especially time to reduce the portion sizes of everything you eat and drink.

Eat More Plants

  • Plants are medicinal. Fruits, vegetables, and grains contain fiber, antioxidants and phytochemicals that help our bodies stay well. They won’t cure us, but they’ll try to keep us as healthy as can be.
  • Find new recipes that will add delicious dishes into your plan. One-bowl meals are a quick and easy way to add veggies and grains every week
  • Cooking doesn’t have to be complicated and using beans, frozen or pre-packed veggies, makes it easy to throw a meal together.

Move More.

  • Exercise has proven health benefits. It will help keep your metabolism humming, maintain or reduce weight, and improve your mood and productivity. Do it.
  • Schedule gym days and find a friend to get there with.
  • Find ways to move more during your regular day. Not exercise, just movement. Walk farther, do more housework. Take your phone calls standing or pacing. Stretch while you are on speaker phone. Walk or bike to the neighbors instead of driving. Take the stairs. Find short 15 minute exercise videos to put on in the morning or evening.

Drink Less.

  • Excessive alcohol intake causes a number of health issues, including cirrhosis, high blood pressure, heart disease.
  • If you do drink, do so responsibly, use the moderation guidelines of 1 drink a day for women, and 1-2 for men.
  • Drink more water, use diet or soda water for mixers

Stress Less.

  • You can’t control everything bad that happens to you or your loved ones, but you can control how you choose to deal with it.
  • Find a support system.
  • Exercise regularly.

Enjoy More.

  • Don’t think in terms of what you can’t or shouldn’t eat. Frame it as trying new foods that taste good and are good for you.
  • Take the clutter away. What are you doing in your life that really doesn’t give you any joy at all? Remove it if possible, and use that time to enjoy some exercise in the fresh air, or another stress-reducing hobby.

Invest in Your Health

  • Don’t wait for your health insurance plan to schedule a visit with a dietitian or get support from an online coach.
  • You may not hesitate to spend $30-75 on hair and nails, so consider setting aside $75 for a nutrition counseling session this year.
  • While I can make the argument that healthy food does not have to cost a lot, I also can tell you that sometimes it is worth paying more for your groceries. Don’t skimp. Eat good food.

Accept Slow Progress and Maintenance.

  • Losing weight is difficult, and keeping it off is even more difficult. It’s a lifelong endeavor.
  • Start making healthier choices every day, with the understanding that maintaining your weight is part of a “weight loss program”. You won’t be “losing” every week, all the time.
  • If you hit a “plateau”, that is not a failure. Hang on. Keep eating well, don’t skip your exercise or gym time.

Don’t Quit in February.

  • All the good food your’e eating? The days at the gym? Keep it up!
  • This is where an online coach or nutrition counselor can come in – for follow up and ongoing support. Almost everyone needs support to stick to it, and help removing barriers.