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It's New Year's resolution time

It's New Year's resolution time

It’s that time again when many people make resolutions for the coming year. Sometimes it can be hard to stick to them, so a good way to start is by making small resolutions, keeping at them and remembering why they are important.

Our medical director, Dr. Jing Zeng, says, “I recommend making a small change that you think would be feasible to sustain. It’s great to make life-changing resolutions, but sometimes you might see more success with a smaller resolution that you can keep up, such as exercising an extra 60 minutes per week.”

Here are some ideas for New Year’s resolutions related to your health:


1. Eat more vegetables and fruit. Start with one vegetarian meal a week and build on it over the course of the year, adding a vegetarian meal every week.

Why it matters: Eating less meat and more vegetables and fruit is not only good for your health (red and processed meats can raise your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke and certain cancers, especially colorectal cancer), it’s also far better for the environment. Raising cattle and other animals uses a lot of water and land, not to mention the waste produced. You can use 2.5 times fewer carbon emissions by going vegetarian.

2. Get more exercise. Although not all neighborhoods are equally walkable, try resolving to walk to those destinations you can (maybe within a mile, like your local coffee house or library). Over the course of the year, you can also use public transport to get to more distant destinations.

Why it matters: Even moderate exercise is beneficial to your health in many ways, including a lower risk of developing certain cancers. Not only that, but by traveling by foot, bike or even mass transit, you are lowering your greenhouse gas emissions, alleviating road congestion and interacting more with your fellow human beings.

3. Use less plastic. You can easily start by bringing your reusable shopping bags to the grocery store and not buying individually wrapped items. Storing leftovers in glass containers with silicone lids instead of wrapping them in disposable plastic wrap is also a great starting point. Then, you can add more plastic-free habits to your lifestyle, such as shopping at local stores instead of ordering online; replacing cheap plastic items with high-quality, long-lasting alternatives; and choosing items made of recycled plastic.

Why it matters: The greatest benefit here is for the greater good, because you’ll be creating less waste that inevitably ends up in our oceans and seafood. In addition, there is some cancer risk for people who work in the plastics industry because of the chemicals manufacturers use to create various plastics, including PVC.

Sometimes the simplest resolutions are the most powerful. “I try to make a resolution to spread more kindness each year,” says Dr. Zeng, “whether it is more time volunteering, more time teaching and mentoring the next generation of doctors or spending more time with loved ones.”

Please let us know if you have more ideas for resolutions that benefit both your health and the greater good!