New Years Resolutions That Are Actually Hazardous to Your Health
It’s that “festive” time of year when all the cool kids try putting their New Year’s resolutions to the test. But while many of these declarations are meant to be health-focused, they’re actually not good for your health at all. In fact, the most popular resolutions out there can actually end up being hazardous. (No wonder they get scrapped before the end of January!)
Here’s a look at common New Year’s resolutions and resolution-fueled habits that are actually hazardous to your health — and what you should consider doing instead.
1. Suddenly exercising every day
This may be the most popular New Year’s resolution — but it’s also one of the most hazardous for your health. You risk your chance of injury, MSN tells us, because “if you’re already filling up any and all free time in your 2019 calendar sprinting and lifting, you’re not giving your body enough time to recover and rebuild.” Start with aiming to exercise 2-3 times a week first, making sure you have days off in between. Then, you can build off that after a month or so.
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2. Cutting back on calories all together
Correct us if you’ve heard this before: Skipping meals can actually make you gain weight. Well, that’s because it’s true! Skipping meals slows down your metabolism and causes your body to store excess fat. Plus, AARP points us to a study showing that people who skip meals, particularly breakfast, or fast are at a higher risk of having hardened arteries and developing heart issues. Instead of skipping meals altogether, replace your typically unhealthy meal with something nutritious that will keep you full.
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3. Vowing to cut out all sugar
Revamping your daily menu is great. Just be careful when it comes to cutting traditional sugar with anything that says “sugar-free” on the label. “Many artificial sweeteners cause insulin (our body’s primary fat-storage hormone) to be released in your gut because they’re sweet like sugar,” MSN says. “Plus, when manufacturers take sugar out of products, they often add in bad-for-you fats like palm oil and cream to make up for the taste, they also use sugar alcohols, which can have a laxative effect if eaten in excess.” You’re better off having a nibble of something with real sugar in it than going to town on something with artificial sweeteners. (More on that one page 13.)
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4. Vowing to cut out all dairy
Long story short: Although many celebrities have promoted cutting dairy out of their diets, this doesn’t have the same effect on everyone. Plus, eliminating whole food groups from your diet isn’t recommended anyway.) Additionally, depriving yourself of dairy — unless you’re lactose intolerant, of course — deprives your body of vitamins it needs for your bones and calcium it needs to help with your metabolism. Instead, cut back on the extra sinful dairy-oriented foods such as pizza and grilled cheese. If you still want to cut back fully, consult a nutritionist on the best ways to still get the vitamins and nutrients you need.
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5. Investing in “waist-training” apparel
Want to invest in a couple pairs of Spanx? Go for it. But primeval corsets and other contraptions that supposed “train” your waist to be smaller? Think again. For starters, these contraptions don’t burn fat or rev up your metabolism, so you won’t lose weight by wearing one. Secondly, prolonged use can damage your insides. “It just crams all of your organs together,” Atlanta-based physician Dr. Tasneem Bhatia told USA Today in 2015. “So over a long period of time, wearing it too much and too frequently, it can cause damage too.” Buying into this quick-fix scam can also hurt your spine, the USA Today article says.
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6. Getting your calories from liquids
Thinking your New Year’s resolution for losing weight can be better achieved by swapping out your solid meals for smoothies? Beware. “One reason liquid calories sabotage weight loss is all in the name: calories,” primary care physician Susan Besser, M.D., tells NBC News. “(People) who use liquids instead of food in a diet often think they are making healthy choices or lower calorie choices. But that isn’t necessarily so.” Plus, a lot of liquid substitutes leave us hungry, which can lead to consuming even more calories and subsequently binging. If you’re entering the liquid meal game, NBC recommends limiting your consumption to the occasional protein-packed variety and continuing to get most of your calories from solid food.
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7. Relying on the scale to determine your happiness
We’ve all been guilty of it at some point in time. You set a goal to lose weight — whether it be for your New year’s resolution or something else — and then obsessively weigh yourself in hopes the pounds will just melt off. However, this is quite counterproductive. Senior clinical physician Bonnie Brennan tells Health.com constantly weighing yourself can be a huge blow to your self-esteem and lead to depressive behavior. “Unless you have a physician-prescribed reason to get on a scale, weighing yourself once a week is enough,” she says.
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8. Setting goals out of negativity
New Year’s resolutions often focus on a negative aspect of our lives. That mentality isn’t just bad for your wellbeing — it also sets you up for failure. Social psychologist Amy Cuddy tells Independent that by framing your resolutions negatively “you’re eliciting in yourself negative emotions. Some negative emotions are motivating, but for the most part, they’re not.” She suggests taking a negatively-charged resolution like “I need to stop eating junk food” and framing it in a more positive light like “I want to start eating healthier.”
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9. Not focusing on the process
Here’s another resolution that’s bad for your mental state — the kind of resolution that solely focuses on the end goal and not the road to get there. “If you’re focused on walking 100 miles, and you’re just constantly focused on that number 100 miles and trying to track your progress, it’s going to be pretty friggin demoralizing most of the way,” Cuddy tells Independent. Instead, break your resolution up into smaller goals to make the process a more positive experience.
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10. Not drinking enough water
You may get tired of being told time and again to drink plenty of water. But not doing so can both hurt your weight loss goals and your health. “Dehydration affects the ability of your body to burn fat, encourages excessive calorie consumption and slows down your metabolism,” Livestrong informs us. “This leads to excess fat being stored in your body, including around your stomach.”
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11. Turning to weight loss supplements out of frustration
Okay, so maybe this isn’t exactly a resolution. But it is a method many people use when they want to lose weight extra fast. Trust us — it isn’t worth it. Many supplements aren’t approved by the FDA and can contain ingredients your body may not react well to. Check out Futures Recovery Healthcare for just a brief look at common diet pills that are bad for you, and what some of the side effects are. If you really need some kind of supplement to help with long-term weight loss, you should consult a doctor.
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12. Letting your resolutions cut into your sleep
Surely you’ve heard that getting enough sleep can help boost your metabolism and lose weight. And after a crazy holiday season, you likely want to do some hibernating. So it’s important to make sure your New Year’s resolutions aren’t cutting into getting your Z’s. “After several sleepless nights, the mental effects become more serious. Your brain will fog, making it difficult to concentrate and make decisions,” NHS says. “If it continues, lack of sleep can affect your overall health and make you prone to serious medical conditions, such as obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes.”
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13. Denying yourself small indulgences
We know, we know. This sounds counterintuitive — if you’re trying to eat better and lose weight, why would you allow yourself to have any sweets? The important thing here is to make sure you do everything in moderation. MSN explains “constantly depriving yourself could lead to an out-of-control binge later on, which is never good for your health. And if you forgo your favorite sweet treat for a ‘healthier’ version, you may feel less satisfied and reaching for something else to curb that sweet tooth.” Long story short: Don’t be too hard on yourself if you have a couple bites of dessert.
Next: On that note …
14. Beating yourself up
One common result of New Year’s resolutions, particularly ones that involve weight loss, is to be too hard on yourself when you don’t reach your goals right away. This behavior, as you can imagine, can do a number on your health. Dr. Richard Davidson tells The New York Times too much self-criticism “can lead to ruminative thoughts that interfere with our productivity, and it can impact our bodies by stimulating inflammatory mechanisms that lead to chronic illness and accelerate aging.”
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15. Ignoring what your body is telling you
You may feel some light effects at the start of your weight loss plan, like a little fatigue from your new workout plan. But if you start to feel legitimate pain from a new workout or your insides feel out of whack because of your new diet — listen to your body and hold off! There’s no harm in revamping your New year’s resolutions so you aren’t hurting yourself.
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