If you’re looking for New Year’s health resolution ideas you can actually stick to, well, here are some that you can and should keep:
1. Make annual primary care appointments.
A lot of women skip seeing their primary care doctor once a year, especially if they’re on top of things like visiting their ob/gyn as often as necessary for preventive screenings, but seeing a doctor to monitor things like your blood pressure, cholesterol, weight, and more, should be a non-negotiable—it gives you a big-picture view of how your health is doing and any potential areas of improvement.
2. Keep a file about your family’s health history.
Knowing your family’s health history is probably one of the best tips I could give women. Keeping tabs on which health conditions and diseases show up in your family will help inform your own risk factors for certain illnesses and guide you toward the healthiest lifestyle for you. Plus, when you go to the doctor and are asked for your family history, you’ll have all the answers ready to go—no frantic texts to your mom from the waiting room.
3. Get at least seven hours of sleep a night
The National Sleep Foundation recommends seven to nine hours of shut-eye a night for adults, but Americans aren’t hitting the mark. Over a third of adults aren’t getting at least seven hours of sleep on a regular basis, says a 2016 Centers of Disease Control and Prevention report based on data from 2014 .
Skimping on Zs can screw with you in a variety of ways, like causing cognitive impairment, slowing motor functions, and creating pretty monstrous mood swings. It also has a clear connection with your weight.
4. Meal prep on Sundays
A lack of preparation has led to many a woman’s healthy-eating downfall. Meal prep is the perfect way to crush the siren song of takeout during a hectic week and make sure you’re getting your fill of the different macronutrients (protein, carbs, fats).
5. Eat every two to three hours
Skipping meals is not a good idea, whether it’s on purpose to “save calories” for a big dinner or because you had some last-minute meeting prep that made the idea of lunch laughable. Skipping meals won’t make you lose weight—it’s just going to make you hungrier. Instead, pepper healthy meals and snacks throughout your day at the appropriate intervals. Your reward: long-lasting energy and fullness, plus no hanger in sight.
6. Wear sunscreen every single time you go outside
Skin cancer is the most common cancer, affecting around 3.3 million Americans each year. So, while sun exposure is great for vitamin D purposes, getting too much is a classic, avoidable way to put your health at risk. Even in the winter months, make sure you’re using SPF every day.
7. Find an outlet for your stress, and use it
This is especially important for women, who are more affected by conditions like anxiety and depression, and whose hormonal fluctuations due to things like menstrual cycles, childbirth, and menopause, can exacerbate mental health issues.
Seek g an outlet for your stress that you can rely upon when things are spiraling out of control, like talking things out with a trusted friend or unfurling that yoga mat for some meditation. But you should also know the signs of conditions like anxiety and depression and not be afraid to get help from a professional if you’re struggling with mental health issues.
8. Have sex often enough to get a happiness boost
The exact amount will vary based on your preferences, but frequent sex hits a home run for your health. Sex has so many physical and mental benefits, from lowering your blood pressure to improving your sleep to reducing stress.
9. Exercise they way you enjoy
It sounds so simple, but missing that nuance leads many people to fall off the exercise wagon. People sometimes choose exercises like a cycling class they loathe over walking, which they might love but not see as a true workout. Once you give yourself permission to stop punishing yourself and seek out pleasure [in your workouts], you’re more likely to stick with it.
10. Schedule your workouts in your calendar
Even if they’re motivated, people often don’t feel comfortable taking time out of their hectic lives to nurture their sense of wellbeing. Once that initial bubble of motivation bursts, this is the derailer of behavior change. Instead of trying to hold yourself to a mental promise to work out, put it in your calendar as a way to stay accountable.
11. Drink enough water
Although that eight cups a day thing isn’t true for everyone, staying hydrated is essential. Not only does it keep all your physical functions, like digestion, running optimally, it makes you less likely to mistake thirst for hunger, a common mix-up that can lead to overeating.
12. Give yourself mini-checkups every month or so to see if anything’s changed
A lot of your health is in your own hands, literally. Monitor things like your skin, your breasts, and your vulva and vagina for anything that seems off, then don’t hesitate to make an appointment with us and bring it up. If something deviates from your ‘normal,’ you need to see us for a visit. Often times, proactive patients who take charge are the healthiest.