Set Simple Goals and Make Healthy Swaps in 2019

Sarah Gold, TSET Healthy Living Program Specialist

The beginning of the year is a great time to set new goals. Studies show about 40% of Americans make New Year’s resolutions and almost half of these people make goals related to health. Many people wish to eat a more balanced diet or to exercise more. Some might wish to lose a certain amount of weight or complete a half-marathon or a mud run. It’s safe to say many people have great aspirations and want to be the best, most healthy version of themselves. However, research has also shown 80% of resolutions made at the start of the year fail by February.

Let’s face it, many of us want to take good care of ourselves and our bodies. We start the new year with great goals and aspirations, but many times, life gets in the way. We live in a culture where work, family, social activities, and managing everyday tasks take precedent over our own health. Sometimes the big goals we set in January seem impossible and insurmountable instead of helpful. So how can we set ourselves up for success instead of failure?

This New Year, Shape Your Future, a program of the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET), encourages Oklahomans to focus on a lifestyle filled with small, healthy swaps and clear, realistic goals to fit everyday routines.

Healthy swaps don’t have to be big changes. Love a chicken sandwich? Try a healthy swap by ordering grilled chicken instead of fried and opting for a side of fruit instead of French fries. Too cold outside for a walk? Make physical activity a family event with an indoor obstacle course or a dance party in the kitchen. A healthy lifestyle isn’t about giving up the things you love; it’s just about making a few healthy changes. Here are some other examples of simple swaps you can make this new year:

  • Eat whole grain cereals instead of sugary cereals.
  • Try a whole wheat bagel instead of a pastry.
  • Move during TV commercial breaks instead of sitting still.
  • Drink water instead of soda (or other sugary drinks).
  • Snack on unsalted mixed nuts instead of sugary candy.
  • Take a walk break instead of a smoke break. 
  • Replace five – ten minutes that you would normally spend on your phone or watching TV with a walk, stretching, or simple exercises like sit-ups, lunges, or squats.
  • Take the stairs instead of an elevator.

Set clear, realistic goals for yourself and your family to build a healthy lifestyle. Unrealistic goals can be overwhelming and hard to achieve. Try making a change every day, even if it’s something small like filling half of your plate with fruits and veggies at one meal per day or getting up five minutes earlier to do some easy walking around the house. Small changes add up to you feeling better and being more energetic. Ultimately, this helps you and your family live a healthier life.

Need some ideas on clear goals to make this New Year? Here are some ideas which can really make a difference:  

  • Take one family walk per week.
  • Cook one healthy meal per week as a family (get the kids involved).
  • Try one new vegetable per week.
  • Do 30 minutes of physical activity 3 days a week.
  • Go to one fitness class this month that you’ve always wanted to try.
  • Do 10 sit-ups, 10 squats, and a 30 second plank each day.
  • Get 7 hours of sleep each night.

At this point, all of these suggestions might seem overwhelming. But start small by picking one simple swap and setting one clear, realistic goal, and try them out for one week. And if you feel able to take on more for a longer amount of time, then go for it! However, always remember to have grace with yourself. It’s likely you will not meet all of your goals and successfully complete all of your swaps. There will be days when you drink a sugary coffee and down a donut before 9 a.m. Then there will be other days when sitting on the couch seems much more inviting than going for a walk. The point of these simple changes isn’t to give yourself more reasons to pile shame and guilt upon yourself. The hope is to create small and manageable ways to move toward a healthier and more sustainable lifestyle.

This New Year, join Shape Your Future and TSET Healthy Living Program in exploring food and activity swaps to have a healthier, happier 2019. For a complete list of healthy lifestyle swaps, visit https://shapeyourfutureok.com/healthy-swaps/ and for a long list of healthy hacks for busy parents, visit https://shapeyourfutureok.com/25-healthy-hacks-busy-parents/.

You can also find other tools, resources and dozens of easy, low-cost recipes at https://shapeyourfutureok.com/healthy-recipes/.

Connect with Shape Your Future on Facebook or Twitter at @ShapeFutureOK and share your own versions of healthy swaps.

Shape Your Future (SYF) is a community health education intervention encouraging Oklahomans to eat better, move more and be tobacco free. SYF was developed in 2011 by the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET) and the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH). It provides simple messaging for moms and influencers in the lives of children to eat more fruits and vegetables and to be more physically active to improve overall health. SYF strives to educate parents, teachers, caregivers and all Oklahomans on how to make the healthy choice the easy choice.

The Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET) serves as a partner and bridge builder for organizations shaping a healthier future for all Oklahomans. TSET provides leadership at the intersections of health by working with local coalitions and initiatives across the state, cultivating innovative and life-changing research, and working across public and private sectors to develop, support, implement and evaluate creative strategies to take advantage of emerging opportunities to improve the public’s health. TSET – Better Lives Through Better Health. To learn more, go to: tset.ok.gov.

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