New Year resolution solutions

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Do you make a New Year's Resolution? If so, what's YOUR success rate? Mine's pretty dismal. I tend to overshoot the "achievable goal" standard. My birthday is the problem - well - part of the problem. My birthday falls literally a day after the New Year begins so I do what most people do and set goals for the New Year and then a day later for my birthday year. Doomed!

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By now, the first week of January, I'm thinking of good excuses. So this year, I decided to look at the top resolutions and then research what the experts say about a small step that you can take to reach your goal.

My brother gave me a fun book a while ago, called One Small Step Can Change Your Life. It's a great concept, especially for the New Year. It focuses on the journey not just the end result. Makes great sense and makes any goal seem a little more achievable.

So here's my stab at changing New Year's Resolutions to a few New Year's Solutions.

Lose Weight/Eat Better If you do one thing, just start watching your portion sizes. I found a great way to remember how much of what categories to eat and it's called a portion plate and here's the best part - it's all in your mind!

Just look at a dinner plate and mentally divide it in half - the top half should be reserved for veggies and fruit. Now divide the second half of the plate into half again. One of these blocks should be for whole grains, the other for your choice of lean protein.

This is a really quick way to think about your plate and how much food should be on it.

Another way to make some simple changes is to visually cue into portion sizes of various foods. Here are some things to keep in mind:

1 cup serving is about the size of a baseball. 1/2 cup serving is about the size of 1/2 of an orange. A serving of meat or poultry should be about the size of a deck of cards or an Altoids box. A serving of cheese is about the size of four dice stacked on top of each other or the size of your thumb.

Some other easy-to-remember tips are to cancel your membership in the "clean plate club." In a restaurant, ask for a to-go container and pack up 1/2 of your meal before you finish eating.

Use smaller plates. Your brain will trick you into thinking your eating more food if it looks bigger on a plate.

Train yourself as to how much a half-cup, a tablespoon, or a cup of your favorite foods look like. It'll prevent you from over-pouring things like cereal, olive oil, etc.

Save Money I'm focusing on grocery budgets here because that's where I see lots of extra money going lately. Prices are rising and I'm like everyone else so busy that I find myself slipping into the store nearly every day to pick up what I need to make dinner.

So all the experts say a way to really help control your grocery spending is to - get ready for how simple this is - make a list and TAKE it to the store. So, go back to what my mom used to do, make a list for those trips and stick to it. Good training for the kids, too.

Organize it/Simplify This one's easy too. And I must say it is the one resolution that I've actually had luck with. Experts agree that we need to rethink "stuff" now. Let's use what we have - even the good stuff. Bring out the good dishes for your family, wear your nice clothes regularly, use those nice bath products that you received as gifts, wear your good perfume - on a Tuesday! But here's the kicker, as you see that you're not using something, shed it. Donate, consign or give it to a friend. Let's use it or lose it.

Exercise The experts had few surprises for me on this one - we just have to figure out a program and then, gasp, just do it.

But I did find some fun facts. Consider:

That just climbing stairs instead of taking the elevator burns 8 calories per average flight of stairs. Walking burns 1 calorie every 30 steps.

Or, start out with some old school exercises. Skipping rope burns 100 calories in 8 - 15 minutes. Jumping jacks burns 100 calories per 700 that you do.

Worry Less This one is my biggie and all the psychology experts agree that the best way to overcome a worry habit is to figure out a way to put aside your worries so that you don't dwell on them. Find a box, any one you'd like and make it your worry box. As you think of something that you're worried about, write it down on a piece of paper and put it into the box. Then, forget about it. You've worried about it, consider it gone.

They say it's interesting at the end of each year to go back and see which of your worries actually came to be. A good lesson!

So, rethink those New Year's resolutions this year. They may not be as unachievable as they seem. Just take it one step at a time!

Live and Learn.