For many of us, 2018 was a doozy, but we here at Brit + Co are ready to hit refresh in 2019! Follow our Hit Refresh series through January and February for new ideas, hacks, and skills that will help you achieve (and maintain!) those New Year’s resolutions.

If you had to guess Americans’ number one New Year’s resolution year after year, we’re pretty sure it wouldn’t take you long to get the right answer. Across all states and demographics, we want to lose weight. Whatever our reasons, around half of Americans report trying to slim down, many of them at the beginning of the year.

healthy woman drinking water

But an obsessive focus on the number on the scale may actually do us more harm than good. While we might believe that a new diet would stick if we could just work up the right amount of motivation, research increasingly shows that diets — as in, temporary changes to our eating habits — don’t work. In fact, one Finnish study recently revealed that dieting and skipping meals appeared to actually accelerate weight gain.

So this year, why not shift the focus? If you’re looking for a New Year’s resolution to help you get healthier, ditch the diet mentality and opt for something a bit more positive. Who knows? Weight loss may result. But if it doesn’t, you know you’re doing something good for your health. Try one of these non-weight-focused resolutions.

1. Drink more water. For some people, it’s helpful to think of adding something to the new year, instead of taking something away. One easy option is simply to drink more water (or other healthy beverages). Though hydration needs vary from person to person, for most of us, reaching for a glass whenever we feel thirsty is likely enough to keep us adequately hydrated, according to the Mayo Clinic. The really interesting news? More than one study has found that the less hydrated a person is, the more likely they are to have a higher body mass index (BMI). Invest in a cute bottle and sip your way through the day.

2. Keep a clean kitchen. The chaos of a cluttered pantry or fridge can be enough to make you throw up your hands and hit the closest fast food joint for dinner. But what if you resolved to keep a cleaner, more accessible kitchen this year? It might not stay HGTV-perfect every day of the year, but a welcoming cooking space is likely to inspire you to make more meals at home, a proven factor in a healthy weight.

3. Get enough sleep. You know prioritizing a good night’s sleep will make you feel more refreshed and alert and probably boost your productivity throughout the day. So feel free to focus on these advantages when you make a resolution to turn in earlier this year. The hidden benefit you might not expect, though, is that better sleep may lead to weight loss. Research confirms that a lack of sleep puts us at risk for putting on pounds.

4. Meal plan. Save money, eat a wider variety of foods, and possibly lose a few pounds? Um, yes, please! The quick fix that can help accomplish these goals isn’t grabbing the latest diet bestseller or jumping on the keto bandwagon. It’s meal planning. A study involving over 40,000 adults found that plotting out a week’s meals ahead of time led to these desirable effects. Set aside a slice of time on a weekend to plan and shop for the week’s meals… and watch what happens.

 5. Start a self-compassion practice. We can be so hard on ourselves, especially about our weight. This year, instead of crash dieting (and beating yourself up when it doesn’t take), try turning the tables. Incorporate a self-compassion practice on a regular basis. Journal a few pages of kind words about yourself, or meditate on how you would treat a dear friend or small child, then apply those sentiments toward yourself. Once you establish this positive change for your mental health, changes to your physical health may naturally follow.

6. Read food labels. It’s a little tweak in your grocery shopping routine that could add up to surprising results. Simply turning around packaged foods to read their nutrition labels informs you about what they contain — and actually is associated with healthier weight. Take a little time to get educated about what to look for on those black-and-white boxes this year, since understanding the label is key to using it well.

7. Start your day with a stretch. Embarking on a serious yoga practice in the new year would be great… but if you’re a total newbie, maybe it’s better to start small. Even a few minutes of full-body stretching offers plenty of benefits. It increases flexibility, helps posture, and releases feel-good endorphins. (FYI, according to experts, it’s best to stretch after a few minutes of light activity, not before.) A quick morning walk followed by a bit of stretching could be the entry-level activity that leads to a deeper exercise practice. Once your muscles feel awake and alive, you may find you actually want to exercise, not just feel you should to lose weight.

What’s your healthy New Year’s resolution for 2019? Tweet us at @BritandCo.

(Photo via Getty)