Did you know that, according to Psychology Today, most people who make New Year’s resolutions tend to fail? 22% fail after the first week, while 40% often fail after the first month! While those statistics are discouraging, there are steps you can take to make sure you don’t become one of them. If you’ve made it your resolution this year to lead a healthier lifestyle, here are ten cheap ways to get healthy and stay motivated.
1. Count calories online
A study published in the August 2008 issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that people who write down everything they eat can lose double the weight of those who don’t. Track your calories, workouts, and weight loss progress at FitDay.com or get a free, personalized diet plan at SparkPeople.com. Take advantage of these websites’ forums to meet like-minded dieters who will help you stay on track.
2. Find a workout buddy
Gathering support for your weight loss efforts online is good. Gathering a friend or two to workout with you is even better. You can try finding an exercise partner by signing up at websites like ReadyToSweat.com or Health magazine’s Girls Gotta Move running club. The best workout buddy you can find, though, just might be the four-legged friend who greets you every morning. University of Missouri researchers have found that people who walk dogs exercise more regularly than people who walk with human companions. After all, a dog will never call you to cancel a scheduled workout! If you don’t own a dog, consider becoming a volunteer dog walker at a local shelter to reap the same benefits and serve the community as well.
3. Download your Om
There are many health benefits to practicing yoga – greater flexibility, improved muscle tone and posture, stress reduction – and thanks to the internet it’s now easier than ever to get in touch with your inner child’s pose. Hop onto iTunes and download a free podcast from Yoga Magazine or Baptiste Power Vinyasa instructor David Farmar. Or head over to Yoga Today, which offers a free class each week, as well as downloaded classes for $3.99 and unlimited monthly plans that let you stream videos on your computer.
4. “There’s an app for that.”
iTunes has an entire library of apps for your iPhone that are designed to help you get healthy and many of them are free. Keep track of your daily workouts and the foods you eat with apps like Lose It! and the Calorie Counter and Diet Tracker by MyFitnessPal. Lookup nutrition info for many national chain restaurants such as Burger King, Chili’s, McDonalds and Subway. Or download an app that acts as a pedometer and keep track of how many steps you take and how many calories you burn. There are even apps designed to help you spice up your sex life! Yes, there is even an app for that.
5. Eat better
Finding healthy recipes that even the pickiest eater in your family will approve of is easier than ever thanks to the internet. These days, you can find good-for-you recipes posted on most major women’s magazine websites. Cooking Light and AllRecipes.com are two places I turn to when looking for inspiration in the kitchen. Also, The Food Network has an entire section devoted to healthy cooking that features a quick recipe finder, meal makeovers and holiday-themed meal plans. If your kitchen skills could use a little work, there are plenty of videos out there that will show you how to do everything from chopping an onion, to making stock, to braising a lamb.
6. Join a local rec center
Not everyone can afford a gym membership. If you’re one of those people, or you’re just looking to save some money, give your local recreation center a try instead. Many offer martial arts, dance and yoga classes for cheaper monthly rates than you can find at a gym or studio. Many also have weight rooms and swimming pools, although the hours they are open to the public may be limited. For a list of recreation centers in your area, check your city’s official website.
7. Get a free skin cancer screening
Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. And while the two most common types – basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas – are curable, they are also preventable. One way to protect yourself is to get a skin exam every year. It’s possible to get a free checkup through the American Academy of Dermatology’s Nation Skin Cancer Screening Program. 2010 is the 25th anniversary for the program. Sign up for an eAlert that will notify you when free screenings are available in your area.
8. Tweet for good health
Social networking sites like Twitter can be a great source of information and support when trying to lead a healthier lifestyle. There are many, many healthy-minded people to follow in the Twitterverse, such as The Biggest Loser’s Jillian Michaels, Self Magazine, registered dietitian and NY Times best-selling author Cynthia Sass and food industry maven Marion Nestle. Follow a few of these people to find great tidbits of advice and inspiration – in 140 characters or less.
9. Stream your workouts
Did you know that Hulu has workout videos? Do a search for the term “fitness” and you’ll find nine pages worth of workouts! Do a mini workout with Jillian Michaels, get ready for the beach next summer with Bikini Body Makeover or try a New Year, New You yoga class to quickly unwind after a long day. If the videos on Hulu are not to your liking, you can also take advantage of Netflix’s instant streaming. For as low as $9.95/month, you can browse the site’s library of fitness videos and play them on your computer as well.
10. Get a flu shot
February is the peak month of flu season, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Make sure you’re protected from seasonal influenza and H1N1 by getting a flu shot. Many companies offer low-cost or free shots to their employees, but if this isn’t an option for you, go to Flu.gov to search for vaccinations in your area.