December 22, 2023
Staff Reporter

Chances are you have made — and then seen fade — a lot of New Year’s resolutions over the years. And remember: As our co-author Albert Ratner (just turned 96) says, you’re never too old to start. The three of us want to share a smart trick to make your New Year’s resolutions stick, and an inspiring schedule that will transform your health in 2024.

The Plan: You start a new positive habit each day, reinforce your new habits on that day the next week, and do your best to keep them going through the year.

The Key: Think positively. Folks who resolved to pursue new, healthy habits were around 25% more likely to achieve goals than folks who resolved to give up bad habits.

So, let’s get started on your positive, healthful plan for 2024.

Sunday is “Posse, Passions and Accountability Day.”

Reach out to friends, family and acquaintances to reinforce relationships. Strong social connections reduce your risk for heart disease, stroke, osteoarthritis and dementia.

Good steps toward better health with your posse:

· Find a buddy to walk or exercise with; get a cooking pal to work with on creating healthier meals. Find someone to learn from or teach. Ask your posse how they succeeded in achieving one of your goals. For example: How did you increase the vegetables you eat? How did you patch up that rocky relationship with your relatives?

· Think about why you are living and what you love about life; start planning to do more of it.

Sunday is also “Write Down Your Resolutions Day,” when you take stock of how you did the previous week (adding accountability while you plan to hit those targets this week).

Set out realistic goals that you can stick with. Resolving to lose one pound a week gets you to goal — and helps you stay there — much better than aiming for five pounds of weight loss a week.

Here’s a check list — write out your own:

· Call a friend every Sunday.

· Lose one pound a week.

· Have only healthy snacks and food at home.

· Go to bed by 9:45 p.m. and wake up at 5:45 a.m.

· Do one act of generosity a week by volunteering, helping a friend or relative, or reaching out to a stranger in need.

Monday is “Play Day.”

Set a reminder alarm on your phone to make sure you never sit for more than 30 minutes without climbing stairs, doing 10 jumps, or walking for two minutes.

More ideas:

· Aspire to find a game or fun physical activity to do with one of your friends toward your 10,000 step-per-day-equivalents goal. (Pickleball is 150-step-equivalents per minute while playing). The default: Walk 10,000 steps daily.

· Strength-train (have someone periodically check your form) for 30 minutes twice weekly.

Tuesday is “Double Breath Day.”

· Put your hand on your belly button and notice how it moves as you breath in (it should go out). Take a big breath, hold it for a count of three — do not exhale (with your finger still on your belly button) — then take a breath on top of that breath. Exhale, noting what happens to your finger. Repeat ten times.

Wednesday is “Better Brain Day.”

Find a speed-of-processing game you like on the internet (“Freeze Frame” and “Double Decision” have the most data, so they improve brain functioning long-term) and practice it for 20 minutes — you can compare notes with a posse member if that helps.

Thursday is “Healthier Nutrition Day.”

Snacking, especially after dinner, piles on unhealthy calories. Switch to celery, or carrots, or air-popped popcorn or raw nuts. Stock your favorites.

Other suggestions:

· More easily control your calorie intake by meal timing. Consider intermittent fasting. Dr. Oz says: “I try to avoid eating for 14 hours daily. If I eat breakfast after 10 a.m., I can have a sociable dinner that’s over by 8 p.m.” Dr. Mike eats in a window of eight hours.

· A nutritional makeover also means taking supplements that fill in for dietary shortcomings and make up for changes in how your body processes nutrients as you age. We recommend half a multivitamin twice a day, vitamin D2/3 with K2 and omega-3 fatty acids (DHA/EPA).

Friday is “Better Sleep and Better Balance Day.”

Your goal is seven to eight hours of sleep nightly.

· Head for bed at the same time (say, 9:45 p.m. — we know it is difficult at times, due to social events) seven days a week; get up at the same time every morning (say, 5:45 a.m.). Make the bedroom dark, cool and quiet, without digital devices.

· When you wake up, do that double-deep breathing (see Tuesday), and stretches like the sun salutation in Yoga.

· Stand at and facing a corner so you can’t fall except into the corner; for two minutes, practice standing on one leg, at first with eyes open and then as you master that, for 30 seconds on each foot, try eyes closed. (Put on your agenda taking a learn-to-fall class.)

Saturday is “Kitchen Makeover Day.”

Check ingredient labels for these bad boys and banish them:

· Sugar and syrups, and processed carbs. That includes brown sugar, dextrose, corn sweetener, high-fructose corn syrup, glucose, corn syrup, honey, invert sugar, maltose, lactose, malt syrup, molasses, evaporated cane sugar, raw sugar, and sucrose.

· Red meat and processed red meats, and tropical fats such as palm and coconut oil.

Find foods and snacks you like (see Thursday) and stock your home.

Starting each Sunday for the next 52 weeks, do this weekly program, adding to it each week as you feel you can. Take a few hours on Sunday as a sabbath break, where you rest and contemplate what you have accomplished and how much better you feel, and what you want to do better in the next week.

Remarkably, and soon, you’ll be feeling much younger and more vital, more able to do what you’re passionate about and help those you love.