Health Resolutions You Shouldn't Make

By Corrie Pikul

Photo: ThinkstockDon't resolve to: Skip your morning snack.

You've always enjoyed a post-breakfast bite of bagel or muffin with your coffee. Then two years ago you heard the news that dieters who eat midmorning snacks have a harder time slimming down. But this could have more to do with what those people were eating than when. This year, nutrition researchers at the U.K.'s Leatherhead Food Research found that people who ate 1.5 ounces of almonds at snack o'clock (i.e., around 11 a.m.) were less hungry at lunch and dinner and ate fewer calories for the rest of the day than non-almond eaters. Another study from Purdue University found that you can extend that feeling of fullness by chewing your almonds up to 40 times before swallowing. Not feeling like nuts? Snack on a piece of fruit. Many nutritionists recommend eating fruit between meals to dampen the desperation of hunger, and some diet plans allow for them as snacks at any time of the day.

Do resolve to: Cut out midmorning bagel quarters, donut halves, Danish pieces and other breakfast-meeting leftovers.

Related: 5 Things You Never Need to Worry About Again

Don't resolve to: Get more sleep.

Nobody seems to get enough sleep: Not your overworked boss, not your exhausted mother-in-law-and certainly not you. Which is why it was surprising to see a study come out earlier this year announcing that an increasing number of Americans are getting nine hours of sleep a night-two hours more than the optimal amount recommended by experts. The percentage of survey respondents who reported sleeping for nine hours rose from 28 percent in 1985 to 37 percent in 2007, and the trend seems to be continuing. So why do we all feel so tired? The study authors pointed out that participants may have been reporting how long they spent in bed, not necessarily how long they spent in bed asleep. Most likely, the problem isn't that we're all sleeping less but that we're sleeping erratically, tossing and turning and waking frequently throughout the night.

Do resolve to: Get better sleep. Regardless of how much time you spend in bed, you should feel refreshed when you get out of it. If you don't, here's what you could be doing wrong.

Don't resolve to: Run farther and longer.

If you're trying to lose weight and you're already running (or cycling or doing another form of cardio) for 30 minutes a day, tacking extra time on to your workout isn't going to help-and it may even hurt. In an intriguing study by Danish researchers last year, men who worked out daily for 30 minutes lost more weight than those who worked out at the same intensity for an hour (an average of 7 pounds vs. 5 pounds, over 13 weeks). The researchers concluded that the added exertion may have prompted the 60-minute group to feel hungrier than usual (so they ate more) as well as more drained (so they took the elevator instead of the stairs and spent more time recovering and relaxing).

Do resolve to: Lift weights. Research has shown that adding strength-training to your workouts can help you build muscle and lose weight-in the form of fat, no less.

Don't resolve to: Go yolk-free.

Somewhere along the line, egg yolks got lumped with foods like bacon: high in cholesterol, bad for hearts, best eaten only as a once-in-a-blue-moon brunch treat. The American Heart Association does suggest limiting your cholesterol intake to less than 300 milligrams a day, and one large egg has about 186 mg. But recent research has shown that eating an egg a day-yolks and all-doesn't increase heart disease risk in healthy people (for those with a history of heart problems or diabetes or who are over 55, the AHA recommends a limit of 200 mg of cholesterol daily). What's more, eggs contain nutrients that experts say may help lower the risk for heart disease-including protein, vitamins B12 and D, riboflavin and folate.

Do resolve to: Eat less than 7 eggs a week.

Don't resolve to: Work less.

Have you ever wondered why your CEO always looks so rested and focused-more rested and focused than people on the lower branches of the org tree (like, say, you)? A leadership study from Harvard Business School may provide some insight. Researchers found that people with more responsibilities often had lower levels of stress hormone levels, less anxiety and lower burnout rates. They concluded that certain forms of leadership-those that give people a sense of power and strengthen their morale-boost a sense of control and, as a result, provide a buffer against inevitable stress.

Do resolve to: Work strategically. Even if you aren't a CEO, make choices like one. Try to minimize the amount of time and effort you spend on busywork and invest your energy in work that makes you feel empowered-which may mean volunteering to head up a project, getting involved with a new initiative or taking on tasks that showcase your talents.

Read More: 8 Ways to Get a Better Body in 30 Minutes or Less

Don't resolve to: Give up gum.

You've been caught snapping, popping and chomping in meetings, and you worry that your mom was right about gum wrecking your teeth. Chewing sugarless gum for 20 minutes following meals, however, can actually help prevent tooth decay. Gum-chewing causes you to produce more saliva, which neutralizes decay-causing acids, rinses away food particles and carries calcium and phosphate that strengthen tooth enamel. The American Dental Association now encourages gum after meals (in addition to brushing and flossing, of course)-but stresses that it must be sugar-free, because sugar can cause tooth decay. (An added bonus for gum lovers: Chewing it can help you focus while working on a challenging cognitive task-in many cases, it works better than a cup of coffee.)

Do resolve to: Chew gum only after breakfast or lunch, in the privacy of your own cubicle.

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