Dr. Travis Stork offers tips for a healthier new year. (Photo courtesy of The Doctors)Losing weight and getting in shape are two of the most popular New Years resolutions we make—and two of the ones we're most likely to break as well. Dr. Travis Stork, the Emmy Award-nominated co-host of "The Doctors," tells Yahoo! Shine about his 10 best health tips for the new year, and we have to admit, these sound like things a real-life human being can actually handle.
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"I definitely try to practice what I preach," he told Yahoo! Shine in an interview." So all these tips? I do them. And I can say that with all sincerity."
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It's easy for celebrities to talk about staying in shape and looking good when they have a personal trainer, nutritionist, and stylist at their beck and call. For the rest of us, though, Stork offers these ideas:
- Find an activity you enjoy, and exercise with a friend. Finding an activity you really enjoy is the key, Stork says. And it's OK if that activity changes every few years. "Your likes and dislikes change throughout your life," he says. When he was in his early 20s, rock climbing was his thing, but as he grew older, riding his bike became a priority. "I don't even have a car out here," the California-based ER doctor says. "I bike to and from work every day."
- Sign up for a race. "Don't sign up for a marathon if you don't like running," he warns; the point is to set some sort of goal. "It's motivation," he explains. "It doesn't need to be hardcore; it could be a 5K walk to raise money for breast cancer, as long as it's something that you mark on the calendar and have as a goal."
- Wear a pedometer. Stork admits that he doesn't do this anymore, but that could change. "I don't wear a pedometer, since it doesn't work on a bike," he confesses with a laugh. But he's considering strapping one on, joking that the exercise will count twice.
- Eat an apple before a meal. Eating a healthy snack—like an apple—before a meal can help you cut calories. Apples offer fiber and volume, Stork said, both of which make you feel full and can help you stop eating more than your body needs. Don't have an apple on hand? A glass of water can also do the trick. "You're filling up your stomach beforehand," he explains. "You're going to get that signal to you brain a little bit quicker that you're full."
- Carry nuts with you. Nut are packed with heart-healthy fats and protein. "They're about the best fast food I know of," he says. "It's an easy go-to when you're traveling." If you're allergic to nuts (or in a nut-free zone, like a school or a plane), any high-protein, portable alternative—like Greek yogurt or hard boiled eggs—will do. "Be your own fast food outlet," Stork advises. "Nothing's faster than pulling some mixed nuts out of your bag, and it's cheaper and healthier" than other convenient choices.
- Add strength training. Aerobic workouts are well and good, but strength training can help you burn calories better, reduce your body fat, and increase your lean muscle mass. It can also help you increase bone density, reduce your risk of injury, sharpen your focus, and keep your stamina up, according to the experts at the Mayo Clinic.
- Use cinnamon and nutmeg instead of sugar. You can cut calories easily by boosting flavor, and so called "sweet" spices like cinnamon and nutmeg make things taste more indulgent without adding calories.
- Wait 20 minutes to beat a craving. This may be the most difficult tip for people to follow, Stork said. "We live in a quick-fix society, and we tend to give in to gratings, not because we want to, but because we're almost forced to," he told Yahoo! Shine. With vending machines in almost every office and a fast-food joint on almost every corner, "It's hard to walk anywhere or go anywhere without access to a quick fix to our cravings," he says. It takes about 20 minutes for your brain to register that you're satisfied, so waiting that long before indulging may eliminate the desire to indulge at all. In other words, "have a cookie," Stork says, "but wait 20 minutes before you eat 10 more."
- Take deep breaths to reduce stress. When you're stressed, your body releases hormones including adrenaline and cortisol, which amp up your heart rate and triggers your body's fight or flight repines. Deep breathing can slow your heart rate and reduce the rate at which the hormones are flowing into your system and giving you a chance to ward off anxiety.
- Be a part-time vegetarian. In his book, "Food Matters," New York Times food columnist Mark Bittman suggests avoiding animal products and processed food during the day, and eating "what you want" at night. Stork agrees that upping your vegetable intake is a healthy choice to make in the new year. Vegetables are loaded with fiber and water, which helps you feel full, and it's easy to incorporate them into meals without feeling like you're going completely vegan.
If you're struggling with making healthier choices, you may need to change your mindset. "Make health your hobby," Stork suggests. "Being healthy should be something you look forward to, not something you dread, and if you dread it that just means you need to incorporate more tips like this."
Be sure to catch Yahoo! Shine's Editor-in-Chief, Jennifer Romolini, on "The Doctors" January 7 (check local listings), as she counts down the most-searched health questions from 2012.
Also on Shine:
5 New Years Resolutions You Should Avoid
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Celebrating the New Year with Your Kids