- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 20, 2018

It’s no surprise that Americans want to get healthier in the new year by working out more and eating less, but a recent survey shows that people are prioritizing small, achievable goals over strict resolutions.

Moving more and working out, getting enough sleep and taking time for self-care are the top three fitness resolutions, according to a survey of 500 people age 16 to 65, carried out by the health and fitness website BodyNutrition.org.

The changes are subtle in wording but drastic in meaning, departing from the typical resolution goals of going to the gym, exercising and dieting to lose a certain amount of weight.

“We wanted to know what trends were people leaning towards in 2019,” survey leader Michael Aragon said in an email to The Washington Times.

The survey yielded surprising results — that people are less invested in hard-stop measures such as cutting down on sugar, not eating carbs or losing a certain amount of weight, Mr. Aragon said.

“Instead, people were more focused on small, more achievable goals, like drinking more water, and getting more sleep,” he said. “We expected those to be popular, just not as popular as they were.”

Of food-related resolutions for 2019, 31 percent of respondents said they plan to drink more water and 26 percent said they will make time to prepare meals. The third most popular response: 13 percent said they will make time to “plan meals.”

Nutrition therapist Heidi Schauster said the responses show a more positive view of how people are approaching their health and wellness goals.

“My reaction is hooray that the top three things that were chosen were not about dieting or losing weight,” Ms. Schauster said. “We live in such a diet-oriented culture that the fact that people are actually thinking about taking time to prepare meals and taking good care of themselves by planning out home cooked meals, that’s a sign that the focus is more on self-care and not self-control.”

A separate survey, by the market research site Offers.com, found that while diet and exercise are still the top new year resolutions, their popularity is waning. About 38 percent of respondents said they resolve to work out more and eat less in 2019, compared to 41 percent in 2018.

Other findings from the BodyNutrition.org survey: 33 percent of respondents said work obligations and 29 percent said anxiety and depression are the greatest obstacles to achieving success in the new year.

These findings echo other statistics in the U.S. showing increasing rates of depression, anxiety and suicide among most age groups.

According to America’s Health Rankings, an annual survey of health and wellness by state, about 12 percent of adults are reporting frequent mental distress, meaning they feel depressed or anxious for longer periods of time. This is an increase from 11.2 percent two years earlier.

Yet access to mental health care is not always equal, America’s Health Rankings found. While there were about 8 percent more mental health professionals in 2017 than 2016, they were not equally distributed to some of the places that need them most.

The importance put on “self-care,” the third most popular resolution in the BodyNutrition.org survey, is a more recent buzzword to talk about treating mental health and overall well-being — less on a professional level and more on fulfilling individual needs and wants, said Ms. Schauster, who is also the author of “Nourish: How to Heal Your Relationship with Food, Body, and Self.”

“Self-care is really individual and it depends — each of us has different core needs and the best way to figure that out is to sort of sit down and explore what are your major needs and values,” she said. “Those are the things that you should probably be attending to on a really regular basis in your life.”

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