Tips and tricks to help achieve New Year’s resolutions

By Madeline Otten

The decade finally came to an end, and the New Year has begun. And with every ending is a new beginning, such as in this case: the promises known as New Year’s resolutions. While the New Year is just starting, resolutions, big or small, are made by those who have hopes to make the new year better than the last.

The Babylonians were the first people to make New Year’s resolutions some 4,000 years ago, according to They were also the first to hold recorded celebrations in honor of the New Year.  Fast forward to today and celebrations and resolutions all around the world are made for the New Year.

According to a survey of 2,000 people by Inc., the top New Year’s resolution for 2019 was to diet or eat healthier. Following in order were resolutions to exercise more, lose weight, save more and spend less, learn a new skill or hobby, quit smoking, read more, find another job, drink less alcohol, and finally spend more time with family and friends.

Statistics from a YouGov poll on new year resolutions for 2018 revealed that the most common resolutions were also to eat healthier, get more exercise, and save more money. For 2020, the predicted top resolution is still to eat healthier, but it’s tied with a resolution to manage finances better.

Whether your goal is to improve health overall, better your finances, or to learn a new skill, here are a couple of tips and tricks to help achieve success.

Eat healthier/better: Science says that when eating on a large plate, it tricks your brain into thinking you have not had enough to eat, but when eating on a smaller plate, you will start to feel full quicker and avoid overeating. A tip to help with portion control is to use smaller plates which will force you to eat smaller portions.

Another way to eat healthier is to cut out sugary foods and drinks. If you regularly drink soda, sweetened teas, or coffee with cream and sugar, gradually reduce the sweetness or simply try to replace drinks with water.

Managing Finances better: There are many ways to help you save money out there such as putting away a certain percentage of your monthly income in an emergency fund or creating and using a budget. There are also plenty of helpful mobile apps in addition to the old fashion way that can help you track and limit your spending. Sticking to your budget might be difficult at first but will help you in the long run.

A tip suggested by Forbes is to follow the 50/30/20 rule: 50 percent of your income should go to mandatory bills such as rent, cell phone, car insurance, or loans; 30 percent could be fun money which could include a night out, going to the movies or a vacation, and then 20 percent would be for savings.

Be more active: Not everyone is a morning person and can wake up before going to work or school in order to work out. And some people simply don’t use a gym facility. If that is the case, a trick to help you stay active during your day is to park further away from the entrance to your destination. This will give you more distance to walk which will help you burn more calories. An additional walking tip is to walk and talk. Grab a buddy or even your cell phone and enjoy casual conversation while getting the benefits of exercising.

Another active tip for those who are limited in their ability to walk, is to try seated leg raises. When seated, straighten one or both legs and hold in place for five or more seconds. Then lower the leg(s) back to the ground without letting your feet touch the floor. Then repeat.

Improve mental well-being: This New Year resolution pertains to each individual, but there are a couple of basic ones that can help when incorporated into your everyday life such as laughing more, being present in the moment, and taking time for yourself.

They say laughing in the best medicine and has a couple of positive physical, mental and social benefits such as relaxing your muscles, improving your mood, and enhancing teamwork. Living in the moment and being present is one way to reduce stress as well as taking time for you.

Some ideas to help take time for you: Get up 15 minutes earlier than you normally would and use that time to do what you want: make that cup of coffee in the morning, catch the weather/local news updates, or go outside and smell the fresh air. You can also use time in the evening to dedicate to yourself if the morning is busier. Either way, carve some time for yourself and it will hopefully improve your mental well-being.

Improve social connections: Putting yourself out there can be difficult, but once you take the leap, you will feel much better. Branch out into the community by volunteering at places such as FSPCA, Fluvanna Meals on Wheels, or Habitat for Humanity. Volunteering is not only a great way to improve social connections but also a great way to give back.

In addition to volunteering, check out the local calendar for events happening in the community. The Fluvanna County library offers free movies and popcorn on the first and third Friday of every month; the Lake Monticello Owner’s Association has a calendar on its website that offers plenty of activities throughout the months, and Fluvanna County Parks and Rec already has their spring 2020 program guide available for all to enjoy.

Learn a new skill: With the amount of information out on the internet including tutorials, learning a new skill is easier now than it has ever been. We are able to learn how to play a new instrument, for example without having to leave the house. We can just watch videos on YouTube on an introductory to chords. This resolution can also be as small as learning to cook something new. Trying new recipes is fun and it can be incorporated to help you eat healthier.

Fluvanna County members can learn a new language and take advantage of the free Rosetta Stone access as a library card member through the Fluvanna County library. Under the online references tab on the Fluvanna County library’s website, you can select Rosetta Stone which will direct you to another log in screen. Once you type in your library card information, Rosetta Stone will grant you access to 23 different languages in the comfort of your own home.

Become more eco-friendly: One easy way to become more eco-friendly is to continue to recycle. Recyclable materials from the municipal solid waste streams include: paper (newspapers, corrugated cardboard, high-grade office paper, mixed paper); metal (ferrous scrap, non-ferrous scrap, aluminum, tin cans), plastics, glass, yard waste (composted or mulched), waste wood, textiles, waste tires, used oil filters, antifreeze, auto bodies (Department of Motor Vehicles’ Abandoned Vehicle Program), construction waste, demolition waste, debris waste, batteries, ash and non-industrial sludges (composted). The Solid Waste and Recycling Convenience Center is located at 11206 West River Road in Fork Union and is opened on Tuesdays, Thursday and Saturdays.

Another small, but effective tip is to turn the faucets off when not using, and yes, this means as you wash dishes, hands or face, brush your teeth, or when shaving. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) bathroom faucets run at about two gallons of water a minute.

In the end, according to research, while about 45 percent of Americans say they usually make New Year’s resolutions, only eight percent are successful in achieving their goals. However, with these helpful tips and trick in hand, Fluvanna County members can help improve the success rate and achieve their New Year’s resolution(s).

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