New Year’s Resolutions: The Minimalist Game Plan


By Tim Gustavson,
Health Education Specialist at Gwinnett Medical Center

Every year we set huge goals as our New Year’s resolutions, only to crash and quit a few days or weeks into the year. So, instead of these massive resolutions that only lead to frustration, why not try these five small steps each day? They’re easy to remember, take no special equipment, and will keep you on a steady path to good health:

      1. Sleep soundly

Inadequate sleep has been linked to higher blood pressure, weight gain, risk for diabetes and heart disease, car accidents, irritability and depression.

How to make it happen: Most adults need seven to nine hours of sleep a night. Stick to a bedtime routine. Make your bedroom conducive to good sleep by having a comfortable mattress and bedding, by keeping the room cool and dark, and by eliminating distractions, including TV.

2. Take a breather

Stress can cause everything from headaches to insomnia to chest pain.

How to make it happen: Take 10 to 15 minutes a day for yourself. Get some fresh air or take a coffee break with a friend. If you can’t spare a quarter hour, take a minute or two to practice deep breathing. Inhale slowly through your nose, inflating your belly, and exhale out your mouth. Repeat four times.

3. Move your muscles

Some say exercise is the closest thing we have to a fountain of youth. In study after study exercise has been shown to improve health.

How to make it happen: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention adults should get at least 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise per week. If you break it down into 20 to 25 minutes a day, it starts to feel more achievable. If you can’t spare that much time, try adding physical activity to your everyday chores. Bring groceries in one bag at a time from the car or carry an armful of laundry up the stairs and then go back for more.

4. Eat your fruits and vegetables

How to make it happen: To fit in the recommended two to four cups a day, take it one meal at a time. Add chopped onions and peppers to an omelet or slice strawberries into yogurt. Sub out those fries at lunch for a side salad or cup of tomato soup. At dinner, add diced carrots, zucchini or spinach to pasta.

5. Laugh

Studies have shown that laughing can help reduce pain, treat depression and increase blood flow by relaxing blood vessels, according to AARP.

How to make it happen: Get your fill by watching a funny movie or YouTube video, listening to your favorite comedian or swapping humorous stories with friends. The body benefits whether laughter is planned or spontaneous. So, go ahead, laugh at yourself. It’s good for you!


Gwinnett Medical Center-Duluth offers resources to help you become your best in 2014. If quality sleep is an issue, visit gwinnettmedicalcenter.org/sleep. For fitness classes and more, visit gwinnettmedicalcenter.org/classes. Or let a dietitian at GMC’s Diabetes & Nutrition Education Center custom-design a nutrition plan for your goals.

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