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10 Study-Based New Year's Resolutions

Sara Suchy Dec 31, 2012 (updated Jan 7, 2014)
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Have you made your New Year's Resolution yet? Make sure science is on your side this year.

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A resolving time of year
A resolving time of year
New Year’s is here once more and with it all the predictable resolutions to lose weight, save money and generally be a happier person. We want to give you the best chance at keeping your weight-loss resolution well past January 15th.  Here are 10 science-based ways to improve your health that, hopefully, can easily become part of your new healthy lifestyle. Make 2013 your year!
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Small changes
Small changes
Whatever large-scale goals you may have, you are most likely to achieve them by making small resolutions. Researchers at Cornell University found that making small, easy changes, specifically to eating behaviors on a consistent basis, can lead to substantial and sustainable weight loss. So, each time you go to the fridge for a snack, grab an apple instead of a slice of pie.  Over time, this simple, healthy choice can save you a lot of calories. 
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Eat meals together
Eat meals together
If you have a family, make an attempt to eat at least one meal together each week.  A study from the University of Leeds in the UK found that families who sit down to homemade meals together at least once a week eat more fruits and vegetables than families who always eat on the go. Need some help with dinner ideas?  Check out FoodFit.com for a whole bunch of nutritious recipes.  We especially love honey-roasted chicken with rosemary and Dijon
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Small plates, contrasting colors
Small plates, contrasting colors
And when you put together those healthy, family meals at home, serve your family on small, brightly colored plates. The small plates will help you control your portion size, and the contrasting colors of the plate will help you better track how much you have already eaten and keep you from absentmindedly overindulging.
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Keep healthy foods within reach
Keep healthy foods within reach
If something out of sight is out of mind, it follows that whatever is in sight is constantly on the mind. Use this to your advantage.  Put healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables on your kitchen counter or dining room table for easy access throughout the day.  Keep the unhealthy foods far from sight, or better yet, don’t buy them in the first place. 
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Low fat works...really
Low fat works...really
We repeat it so many times because it’s true: low-fat diets really do help you lose weight. The newest study to this effect found that people who simply replaced the fatty foods in their diet with lower fat options lost, on average, 3.5 pounds without any other form of dieting or exercise.  
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Try gazpacho
Try gazpacho
The advice, ‘eat low-fat, healthy foods’ is pretty broad so here’s a specific example.  A study in the journal Nutrition, Metabolism & Cardiovascular Disease found that the tomato-based Spanish soup gazpacho could significantly reduce the risk of hypertension. Why?  Gazpacho contains high levels of carotenes, vitamin and polyphenols, which together, could reduce the risk of high blood pressure by about 27 percent. 
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Hit the treadmill
Hit the treadmill
If you have to choose between lifting weights and running  (or any cardio activity for that matter) go with the cardio. A study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology found that people who focused their physical activity on aerobic training lost more weight than people who lifted weights and than people who did both aerobic activity and weight lifting. If you can do it all, by all means go for it.  But if pressed for time, hit the treadmill. 
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Get some technical help
Get some technical help
A study found that people who were enrolled in a weight loss class and used a smart phone app that tracked their daily calorie consumption and physical activity lost significantly more weight than people who were simply enrolled in the class and had no smartphone app. The smart phone app helps you make smart, healthy decisions in the moment and over time helps establish genuinely healthy habits. 
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Turn off the TV
Turn off the TV
Seriously, turn off the TV.  Study after study has linked excessive TV viewing to poor health and higher obesity rates. A recent study from the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, LA found that children who watch two or more hours of television each day have a significantly higher risk of being obese than children who do not. Do yourself and your kids a huge favor: Turn off the TV. 
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Be prepared for the blues
Be prepared for the blues
Fatty and sugary foods trigger the same responses in your brain as some addictive drugs.  This is why it feels so good to eat them and why it is so hard to stop eating them. So, when you start to cut these foods from your diet, your body could start to go through withdrawal symptoms, such as fatigue and even depression.