There’s something inspiring about the start of a new year. It represents a fresh beginning, and the perfect occasion to renew yourself with motivation and the promise to eat better, exercise more and spend less time sitting around watching TV.
But there is a right way to set healthy resolutions, and a wrong way. Think of the journey, not the destination, and plot your course with a series of tangible end points in mind, like the following five—all completely within your control and trackable.
1. I will schedule an appointment with my primary care physician.
This is the easiest of the five, and yet it is so often overlooked, especially by men. An annual checkup is your chance to measure your progress from year to year. Your doctor will test your blood and urine to look for any abnormalities that have sprung up, and offer you some suggestions on ways you can better take care of your body in the coming year.
Best advice: Be open and honest with your doctor. If there’s something you know but aren’t telling him or her, your doctor isn’t seeing the whole picture and cannot offer the best, most complete advice and treatment. Don’t be afraid to ask plenty of questions.
2. I will do whatever is possible to get my blood pressure numbers below 125 and below 85.
High blood pressure is a—maybe the—leading cause of aging of your arteries, and aging of your arteries is the leading cause of heart attacks, strokes, memory loss and even wrinkling. So managing it is of the utmost importance.
Getting your blood pressure to 115/75 is optimal for aging, whether by lifestyle choices or any of about 150 blood pressure medications or their respective generics that are approved by the FDA. This is one your doctor can most certainly help you with, so don’t forget Resolution No. 1.
3. I will get a pedometer and walk 10,000 steps each day—no excuses.
This number of steps is the sweet spot for getting maximal health benefit for minimal work. In fact, 10,000 steps a day breaks down insulin resistance much better than walking 8,000, and walking 12,000 doesn’t help any more than 10,000.
4. I will switch to healthier fats.
In addition to healthy fats, extra virgin olive oil, avocados, walnuts and dark chocolate are loaded with polyphenols, a family of antioxidants that slow age-related damage to the body.
5. I will eat earlier and share food with my partner.
Research shows that your body will perform best and be healthier when you limit the window you eat in to align with your circadian rhythm. Stack your meals so that three-quarters (or more) of what you eat comes before 2 p.m., the rest between then and sundown.
Also, restaurants tend to overload the plate, making most meals plenty for two. So, when dining with a loved one, pick out an entrée and share it. That’s called taking control.
3 Apps to Tap Into Fitness
1. 8fit workouts & meal planner (Free with Upgrades)
For the sum of half a month’s gym membership (and 10 minutes of a personal trainer’s time), this app’s upgrades give you a year’s worth of daily workouts focused on high-intensity interval training. You’ll break a sweat in 10 minutes or less.
2. Instant Heart Rate ($4.99)
When you’re going for a long trail run, the key to burning fat and improving your cardiovascular health is to get your ticker ticking into the “cardio zone.” You don’t want it working too fast or too slow, and this app is the best for keeping tabs.
3. Fooducate (Free)
Easier than reading labels and trying to make sense of this percentage or that, simply scan barcodes in the grocery store to get an instant grade on some 250,000 products. You’ll know instantly whether to put it in the bin or back on the shelf.
This article originally appeared in the Spring 2019 issue of SUCCESS magazine.