5 Healthy Resolutions That Are Better (and Easier) Than 'Lose Weight'

But they will help you lose weight.

Luis Alvarez
Photo: Luis Alvarez/Getty Images

Raise your hand if "lose weight" has been on your list of New Year's resolutions for as long as you've been making resolutions. *raises both hands*

The thing about this all-too-relatable resolution is that it's not very specific — or very easy, for that matter. It takes actions to lose weight, and those actions are often more complicated than "eat less and move more," despite what "experts" would have you believe.

Sure, if you eat more calories (or burn too few) than your body needs, over time you'll gain weight. And if you eat fewer calories than your body needs (or burn more), you'll lose weight. That seems like simple math, yes?

Well, it's not always. The equation, unlike math, really isn't as straightforward as one-plus-one-equals-two. You need a few more specific considerations when it comes to what you're eating, and that's where the resolution to "lose weight" often breaks down for most of us.

So, this year, if you ultimately want to lose weight, it might be a good idea to make different resolutions. Actually, let's call them healthy habits. A habit implies that these are things you can do routinely without interruption to your day or lifestyle.

Once you work these habits into your daily life for a few weeks, they'll seem second nature, and you won't be left fretting about how to do that math equation that works out to your ultimate goal: to slim down.

Here, we review five resolutions (or habits) that are actually easier to understand and accomplish than the oversimplified "lose weight." The good news is, when these habits are part of your daily routine, you'll actually achieve that end result. The following habits have been shown to lead to weight loss, and they also happen to be highly beneficial for your overall health. That's a win-win.

1. Make Half Your Plate Vegetables

Americans do not eat enough fruits and vegetables. Full stop.

But fruits and vegetables are filled with some of the best weight loss-inducing nutrients: fiber, carbohydrates, and vitamins. Even though most plant foods contain some sugar, the natural sugar is accompanied by those nutrients, unlike sugary soda or candy bars.

Change the ratios of your plates at lunch and dinner to emphasize vegetables over meat, and don't skip the whole grains. Make two or more vegetables sides so you'll have plenty on your plate.

Consider skipping meat altogether for an all-vegetable plate every once in a while. Or use meat as a condiment — that is, an accompaniment to a salad or other vegetable-forward dish that emphasizes plants as the star.

2. Eat More Fiber

Fiber is healthy for a number of reasons. It keeps you regular (in the bathroom), it can help keep your gut microbiome balanced and healthy, and it can help you stabilize your blood sugar to keep hunger cravings at bay.

Plus, eating a type of fiber called soluble fiber (which is found in beans and legumes, oats, and asparagus) has been shown to lead to weight reduction in obese and overweight individuals.

Fiber supplements can provide some benefit, but whole foods bring other nutrients to the plate (refer back to habit number one above), beyond the fiber. So focus on working these fiber-rich foods into your meals.

3. Go for a Walk

The idea of starting a new exercise regimen may be too overwhelming. You're already busy, after all. Who has time to consistently get to the gym? You've got a tight budget. Who has the money for a trainer?

Forget all that stress, and just go for a walk. Walking is excellent exercise, and for more than just weight loss. It can improve cholesterol levels, boost mood, and decrease blood pressure.

Start at your own natural pace, and begin to pick up the speed as you feel comfortable. You can time your walk (15 minutes is great; do it twice a day if you can), or you can walk for the length of a podcast or playlist.

Once you're comfortable with that regular movement, you can look to boost your burn with online workouts that are designed to be highly effective in as little as 15 minutes.

4. Eat Less Than 25 Grams of Added Sugar Per Day

While we don't eat enough fruits and vegetables, Americans do eat plenty of sugar. Too much of it, in fact.

And sugar, except when it comes from fruits, dairy, or other natural sources, is basically empty calories. No, you shouldn't cut out all sugar; everyone needs a treat. But getting a handle on how much sugar you're eating and then trying to cap that at 25 grams of added sugar per day can really help you reduce your calorie load — and may very well even result in weight loss.

The new Nutrition Facts panel can be your friend in this matter. Food manufacturers are now required to list both total sugars and added sugars. When picking between foods (for example, yogurt), go for the one that has the fewest grams of added sugar.

But whatever you do, don't quit cold turkey. Sugar is a habit, and just dropping it will be a shock to your system. Which means you'll be likely to rebound and find yourself craving even more of the sweet stuff.

Instead, take stock of how much you're eating in a day. Then make gradual goals of reducing it to get down to 25 grams of added sugar per day.

5. Eat Leaner Proteins

We aren't going to be the ones to tell you to cut out meat, though there are plenty of benefits to eating more plant-based proteins. (

Instead, we will encourage you to convert the proteins (that is, the meats) you're eating to leaner options that have less saturated fat and fewer calories.

Skip the ribeye and go for a lean sirloin. Ground chicken or turkey is a good swap for ground beef. If you do need ground beef, pick up the leanest fat percentage your store sells (perhaps 93 percent lean; 7 percent fat or less).

Don't forget to eat your fish, too. Fish introduce healthy fats, like omega-3, to your diet. These fats help with heart health and brain health. Plus, they're lower in calories than other types of meat.

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