Why December Might Be the Key to Your Health Goals

| Sarah Johnson MS, RD, CFP

With the new year right around the corner, many Americans are considering what New Year’s Resolutions they will set. We all hope and expect the new year to bring newfound motivation and change, but let’s face it, making a new habit takes time. Change can be difficult, and we often fail a few times before we get it right. It is what we do with that failure that genuinely makes the difference.  

Failure is not the opposite of success but rather part of the process.

So, what can we do to make our resolutions stick this year? One way may be to not wait for the new year to begin. Many people find that their resolutions are more successful if they start in December. Why? When we begin before January rolls around and have a setback or “fail,” we are more likely to get back on track because we feel we have time. Failures in December tend not to carry the same weight as ones after the new year has begun, so we are more likely to get back on track rather than throw in the towel. The Holiday season is not usually synonymous with health goals, but the two are not mutually exclusive. When we set realistic goals, we can still make progress without feeling like we are depriving ourselves during the holidays. 

Here are 3 “Holiday Celebration Friendly” health resolutions you can stick to.

1. Don’t skip the protein. Protein helps us feel more satisfied, making us less likely to overeat and less likely to reach for a snack between meals. Goals that encourage us to focus on what to add rather than what to subtract tend to be more successful. Making sure you have protein in all meals and snacks through the holidays can help keep your health goals on track.  

2. Drink more water. Thirst and hunger are very difficult for most people to distinguish between. Most of the time, we think we are hungry; we are thirsty. Drinking water helps keep our hunger cues on track, making us less likely to overeat. This goal also carries many other benefits, such as detoxification, clearer skin, and more energy.  

3. Get enough sleep. Health goals do not need to be about food. Sleep plays a significant role in how we digest, what foods we crave, and our metabolic health. Without proper rest, those sugary holiday treats are more difficult to avoid. When we do not catch enough z’s, our body gives signals that cause us to reach for higher fat, higher calorie foods while at the same time having less energy for movement and exercise. This holiday season, give yourself the gift of sleep; it truly is a top key to health.

So, don’t wait for the new year. This December is the perfect time to kick off those health goals you have for yourself. Besides, if you can be successful in this season of temptation, you will hit the ground running in the new year and thrive in 2023!

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