By Dr. Josh Axe

Whether or not 2021 represented a step in the right direction for your health, 2022 is another chance to set and achieve some New Year's resolutions. 

No matter if your goals are geared towards improving your diet, exercising more regularly or getting sufficient sleep, research suggests that it's important to set goals that are both specific and achievable

This helps to establish a clear action plan and gives you the greatest chance of hitting milestones along the way that will keep you motivated. On the other hand, if you develop resolutions that are mostly out of reach, it can derail your efforts by bringing down your confidence. 

So what are some realistic and healthy New Year's resolutions? Let’s look below at more than 20 to consider setting for the following year: 

​​1. Eat MORE whole foods and LESS processed ones

Upgrade from products like sugary beverages, refined grains, poor quality vegetable oils and processed meats to more fresh vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, whole grains, grass-fed meat, beans and fish.

Tips to help you achieve it:

  • Read ingredient labels when grocery shopping so you know what you’re consuming.
  • Start cutting out foods with lots of additives, sugar and preservatives and opting instead for whole, natural foods instead (think things with just one ingredient, like broccoli, almonds or eggs).

2. Cook more at home 

Cooking your own food allows you to better control what and how much you’re consuming, potentially saving you hundreds of calories plus saving money.

Tips to help you achieve it:

  • Carve out 1–2 hours per week to food prep healthy meals at home.
  • If you never cook, start by cooking once a week, ideally making extra to have for leftovers. 
  • Already meal prepping once a week? Shoot for 2x or more, such as by preparing easy lunches to bring to work.

3. Replace one unhealthy meal/snack with a better alternative

Even replacing one unhealthy habit, such as eating fast food frequently, with a better one, such as making your own lunch, can make a big impact on your overall diet.

Tips to help you achieve it:

  • Remove specific foods from your diet that tempt you to overeat, such as pizza, french fries, chips, etc. Alcohol is another substance that you may want to commit to cutting back on.
  • Pinpoint your nutritional daily downfall and have healthy substitutions ready to go — e.g. if you typically have a cookie every afternoon with tea, then have trail mix or an apple instead. 
  • Replace a daily soda or juice with seltzer.
  • Eat breakfast instead of skipping it if this better manages your appetite for the rest of the day.

4. Add more collagen to your diet

Collagen is the most abundant type of protein in the human body, as it helps to form and promote healthy connective tissues including our skin, joints, ligaments and the lining of our guts.

Our bodies make less collagen as we age, starting approximately in our mid to late 20’s, so consuming more from your diet can be helpful for supporting joint health, skin elasticity and gut function. Although real bone broth contains collagen, supplementation is considered the most convenient and concentrated way to boost your intake.

Tips to help you achieve it:

  • Add a hydrolyzed collagen supplement (powder or capsules) to your daily routine. This form of collagen includes protein molecules that have been broken down into smaller units, making them easier for your body to digest, absorb and use.
  • Try Ancient Nutrition's Multi Collagen Protein or Collagen Peptides formulations, which is powered by a clinically studied fermented/hydrolyzed collagen. This is a proprietary, clinically studied ingredient that yields benefits for your skin tone, joint mobility, exercise recovery, hair growth, digestion and more.

5. Increase your fiber intake

Fiber describes a bunch of different compounds found in plant foods that can’t be fully digested by the human body, meaning it passes through your digestive system and helps with elimination and other processes.

Dietary fiber also keeps your appetite in check, supports a healthy gut microbiome by “feeding” probiotics, and absorbs cholesterol that promotes heart health.

Tips to help you achieve it:

  • Add more high-fiber foods to your meals including leafy greens, cruciferous veggies, beans, legumes, berries, nuts, seeds, coconut and avocados.
  • Also aim to incorporate some prebiotics, such as chicory, artichoke, dandelion greens, garlic, onions and leeks.

6. Try plant-based alternatives

Agriculture, especially the livestock industry, is one of the leading contributors to climate change. The high global demand for meat and other animal products is a major cause for concern, considering it contributes to Co2 emissions, deforestation, destruction of topsoil, high usage of resources, waste runoff, water pollution and other issues.

Tips to help you achieve it:

  • If you normally include a lot of high-protein animal foods in your diet — like meat, poultry and eggs — try subbing in plant options in some of your meals such as beans, legumes, sprouted grains, nuts and seeds.
  • Consider trying trendy newer foods that combine a mix of animal and plant-based ingredients, for example some “veggie burgers," to reduce your overall meat consumption. 
  • When it comes to purchasing animal products, you can also reduce your carbon footprint by purchasing sustainably-raised, grass-fed, pasture-raised and wild-caught animal products that tend to support the ecosystem and give back to the environment more.

7. Consume more probiotics

Probiotics are “friendly” microbes that populate your gut microbiome and support general health. Natural probiotics found in fermented foods can enhance the digestion of foods and help your body properly absorb, digest and utilize nutrients.

Probiotics are also capable of supporting healthy immune system function, helping to regulate your appetite, and much more.

Tips to help you achieve it:

  • Add fermented foods to your diet, including sauerkraut, kimchi, yogurt, kefir, kombucha, miso and others.
  • Take a daily probiotic supplement, such as an SBO Probiotic that features hardy, resilient microbes that can actually make their way into the gut to offer their benefits.

8. Drink more water and other healthy beverages

Staying hydrated is important for so many bodily functions, including promoting healthy digestion, energy levels, cognitive function, muscle health and skin health. 

Tips to help you achieve it:

  • Drink a glass of water when you first wake up, then have one at least every other hour plus with your main meals.
  • Aside from water, incorporate other hydrating drinks like seltzers, bone broth, herbal teas and fresh pressed juices (organic coffee is fine in moderation, too).
  • Make sure to drink even more fluids if you’re very active, sweating a lot, etc. 

9. Go to bed earlier to avoid sleep deprivation 

Thanks to 24/7 technology, it's never been easier to stay up late, but this can take a toll on your health. Getting adequate sleep is now considered to be an essential component of wellness. That’s because sleep is needed to maintain a healthy metabolism, upbeat mindset, healthy immune system, sharp mind and much more.

Tips to help you achieve it:

  • Aim for 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night. Try sticking to a regular sleep-wake schedule to normalize your circadian rhythm (your “internal clock”).
  • If you have trouble dozing off, try botanicals like lavender, ashwagandha, kava kava, valerian root and magnesium, all of which have calming and soothing properties. 

10. Expose yourself to less blue light at night

Blue light is emitted from electronic devices such as your TV, tablet, computer and phone. It messes with your circadian rhythm and can stimulate your brain at night in a way that makes you more alert, when you really want to feel sleepy.

Tips to help you achieve it:

  • Avoid use of electronics within 2–3 hours of bedtime. Instead, read a book, journal, stretch, shower or do other relaxing activities.
  • If you are going to use electronics at night, turn on filters that decrease blue light or wear blue-light blocking glasses.

11. Sit less

Sitting too much, coupled with a lack of exercise, is a widespread problem in most industrialized countries. It’s linked with problems such as increased risk for obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and more.

Tips to help you achieve it:

  • Reduce how much time you sit on your computer or watch TV.
  • Get a stand up desk to use at work or home.
  • Take little breaks throughout the day to get up, stretch and walk around.
  • Carve out a time to take a daily walk each day, such as taking a walk during your lunch break or taking phone calls while you pace around.

12. Wear a fitness tracker and gradually increase your steps

As mentioned above, too much sedentary time is detrimental to your health, while walking more and being active regularly are linked with the opposite: health perks such as healthy weight management, enhanced cognitive health and a more positive outlook.

Tips to help you achieve it:

  • Buy a fitness tracker (watch, wristband or ring) and aim to walk 8K to 12K steps per day. Even a basic, inexpensive pedometer will get the job done.
  • Increase daily activity by doing things like parking further away from your destination, taking the stairs, commuting to work by foot, or cleaning your home.

13. Try a new type of exercise

Want to exercise more? Find an activity that intrigues you and that you truly enjoy — maybe it's pickup basketball, walking through the woods, a yoga class or a circuit-style workout.

Tips to help you achieve it:

  • Find and join a local gym or fitness studio and sign up for several months of classes ahead of time if possible to help keep you accountable and motivated.
  • Consider hiring a personal trainer if you know that a partner helps you stay accountable. 
  • Join a fitness challenge, marathon or another similar event with co-workers or friends to gain support.

14. Spend more time outdoors

Being outdoors in nature, especially in sunlight and “green spaces” such as parks and forests, supports our overall mindset because it naturally lowers stress and helps fosters a sense of connection. Plus, sunshine exposure outdoors can help you get vitamin D and lift your energy. 

Many of us spend the majority of our days indoors, especially those who live in a city. Change that by making outdoor plans a part of your daily schedule. 

Tips to help you achieve it:

  • Try working out outside if possible.
  • Take a daily walk or bike ride somewhere in nature that’s calming.
  • To boost your vitamin D level, spend about 15 minutes in sunlight each day with your bare skin exposed.

15. Practice moments of “silence” or meditation

Both of these self-relieving practices have been shown to help improve mental clarity, self-awareness, decision-making and productivity. They serve as important breaks from “noise pollution” and “information overload” that are so common today.

Tips to help you achieve it:

  • Pick a time of day to spend about 10 minutes or more praying or meditating, whether using a guided meditation app, a body scan or just by following your breath.
  • If meditation doesn't work well for you, try mini silent breaks instead, such as by turning off all devices, driving in silence or reading/cooking/eating/doing chores without any noise or distractions.

16. Read more to expand your perspective

Reading is a great way to challenge your beliefs, change negative thoughts about yourself and others, become more motivated and disciplined about your goals, support your memory, and improve your communication skills and empathy.

Tips to help you achieve it:

  • Decrease “screen time” and instead spend about 20 minutes or more daily reading a book, articles or newspapers.
  • Choose things to read that are inspiring and calming, whether it’s fiction, self-help, memories or another genre.
  • Reading is especially beneficial before bed time, as it’s soothing and can help put your mind at rest.

17. Start a journaling practice

Depending on the specific type of journal you keep, this habit can improve self-confidence, fight anxiousness and worries, help you set and achieve goals, and improve gratitude.

Tips to help you achieve it:

  • Try keeping a daily gratitude journal in which you jot down three things or more that went well that day and that you appreciate.
  • Write down your goals and be specific, as this has been shown to improve the odds of you following through with them. Ask yourself what specific steps you can start taking to eventually reach a bigger goal.
  • Get your worries out of your head by dumping them onto paper; then look closely at them to see how realistic they actually are and what you can do to overcome them.

18. Step up your skincare routine

Your skin is your largest organ and one of the first aspects of your appearance to show signs of aging, stress and “wear and tear” when you neglect your health. It also acts as a first-line-of-defense barrier for your body and absorbs what you put on it, so it’s important to choose skincare products wisely.

Tips to help you achieve it:

  • Nix any skincare ingredients made with a long list of chemicals, artificial fragrances, dyes and other irritants such as parabens and surfactants.
  • Instead, try natural products like coconut, almond, marula and argan oils, plus shea butter, aloe vera, and chamomile and lavender essential oils. 
  • If you’re willing to spend a bit more, try some of these ingredients that are many dermatologists’ top picks: vitamin C serum, hyaluronic acid, retinol, glycolic acid plus SPF daily.
  • Don’t over-wash your skin, but cleanse it with a natural cleanser (such as one with probiotics) 1–2 times daily.
  • Also be sure to drink plenty of water and eat a diet with collagen, vitamin C, protein, zinc and vitamin A, all of which support your skin.

19. Use higher-quality, less “toxic” household products 

Many commonly used cleaning products, fragrances and detergents are made with questionable ingredients including chemicals that potentially have toxic effects. 

These chemicals can wind up sticking to your skin, making their way into your nasal passages and causing allergies and other problems, including to both you and your children and pets. 

Tips to help you achieve it:

  • Limit use of products that tend to contain irritants, such as air fresheners, fabric softeners, cleansers with artificial fragrances, bleach and ammonia cleaners, antibacterial products, and products that create suds.
  • Look for more natural household cleaners, laundry detergents, and personal care products made with ingredients like essential oils, baking soda and castile soap. 

20. Get more plants, or start gardening 

Gardening outdoors and tending to indoor plants both help to fight stress. 

Outdoor gardening serves as a form of moderate exercise and is linked with healthier aging. And just the sight of green and colorful plants inside is enough to help lift your spirits and improve focus, so keep them around your home and office year round if possible.

Tips to help you achieve it:

  • If your home allows for it, find a small patch in your yard where you can start a garden or plant veggies and/or flowers.
  • Keep indoors plants and herbs in places you spend the most time, such as hydroponic herbs (which don’t require soil), jade plants, succulents, fiddle trees, palms and snake plants.

21. Surround yourself with positive people

The people you spend time with, including friends, co-workers and family, have a huge impact on your self-esteem and habits. Negative people can cause you to feel anxious, irritable and generally lousy, while uplifting people can increase the odds that you’ll live a healthy, goal-oriented, happy life. 

Tips to help you achieve it:

  • Seek out support from people who share your values and who you admire.
  • Evaluate relationships that tend to bring you down and consider spending less time with those who disrespect you, cross your boundaries or don’t reciprocate your effort and care.

As always, you should consult your healthcare professional prior to beginning any new dietary or lifestyle regimen, including supplementation. 

Dr. Josh Axe, DC, DNM, CNS, is a doctor of chiropractic, doctor of natural medicine, clinical nutritionist and author with a passion to help people get well using food and nutrition. He operates leading natural health website DrAxe.com and is co-founder of Ancient Nutrition, a health supplement company. He’s also author of the books Eat Dirt, Essential Oils: Ancient Medicine, Keto Diet, Collagen Diet and Ancient Remedies.

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Featured Product

Collagen Peptides Protein Powder Unflavored (14 Servings)

$19.95

Shop

Multi Collagen Protein Powder Pure (45 servings)

$44.95

Shop

SBO Probiotics Gut Restore Capsules (60 Capsules)

$49.95

Shop