Have many pounds have I lost this week?”

This question will be asked by hundreds of thousands of men and women this month who are intent on conquering their New Year’s resolutions at the onset of 2016. According to a study by the University of Scranton, the most popular New Year’s resolution is losing weight. Also found in the top 5 is staying healthy and fit.

Of the 38% of individuals who make annual resolutions related to weight loss, many are eager to see the superficial benefits of trimmed waist-lines, toned legs and abs and a younger gait. Feeling comfortable and confident in the way you look is incredibly important to a sustainable healthy lifestyle. Still, it’s only one benefit of living an active, nutritious lifestyle.

Instead of focusing primarily on weight loss, a more productive way of framing that New Year’s resolution is to eat healthier and exercise regularly. Weight loss is a natural bi-product of incorporating organic, power foods into your diet, relegating your meals to manageable portions, eating on a regular schedule and consuming only as much as you need to lead a productive day.

Too often, people place harsh restrictions on their diets and raise the bar on their exercise initiatives to the point that the act of losing weight is seen as more of a hassle than a positive behavioral change.

As people lose weight, their moods improve, or vice versa — as their moods improve, they lose weight.”

Weight loss and happiness go hand-in-hand.

A commitment to incorporating healthy foods into your diet and exercising regularly has a much greater and more widespread impact on your lifestyle than simply slimming down your physique. A new book by Elizabeth Somers titled “Eat Your Way to Happiness” describes the ways in which altering your diet can lower your risk of disease and illness, help eliminate stress hormones and sleep better.

The residual effects of eating well and exercising positively impact all parts of your life. Instead of resolving to lose weight in 2016, here are simpler, mini resolutions you can make to achieve your health and weight loss goals.

Cut down on sugar, feel refreshed

Recent studies show the negative impacts sugar has on our health go far beyond the potential to grow out of our favorite pairs of jeans. Diets high in sugar are linked to learning and memory deficiencies. They also damage cells throughout the body, leading to higher risk of heart disease and cancer. The real enemies are foods with high-fructose corn syrup, fake sweeteners and preservatives, which can be difficult to recognize on the surface.

By familiarizing yourself with the labels on the foods you eat, taking your sugar reduction slowly and rewarding yourself with a sugary treat once in a while, you will be invigorated to continue your trend of healthy living in 2016.

Eliminate soda, lower risk for disease

The fizzy pop drinks may be the worst thing you can consume altogether. One can of soda includes 10 teaspoons of sugar, which can be considered an overdose.

The Harvard School of Public Health links soda consumption with diseases and chronic illnesses such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, gout, obesity and other debilitating conditions. Recently, a British pharmacist named Niraj Naik created an inforgraphic showing what happens to the human body when soda is consumed and none of it is good. In fact, researchers liken the impact soda has on the brain to the addictive qualities of heroin.

Diet soda is no better for your health. In many ways, it’s even worse. Once you realize just how awful sodas are, it shouldn’t be too hard to kick the habit. A great alternative to your regular Coke or Pepsi is to grab a seltzer water instead.

Even better, you can acquire a taste for another beverage…

Drink more tea, speed up your metabolism

As many negative impacts as soda has on the body, tea has positive impacts. Maybe even more.

The list of health benefits from drinking tea is long and includes developing a slimmer figure. For one, tea will speed up the body’s metabolism to allow you to burn calories more efficiently, particularly during exercise. Tea also has calming, relaxing properties and less caffeine than coffee, which makes its consumption more conducive with a steady stream of energy and productivity throughout the day.

There are plenty of different types of teas for you to choose from, including white, green, black and oolong varieties, each with their own strength of flavor, antioxidants and potency. Herbal teas are in a category of their own, though they still have unique health benefits.

If your goal is weight loss, these three steps are the easiest ways to help your body help itself to become trimmer, more fit. More importantly, they can give you renewed energy and confidence to keep you on track to stick with the rest of your weight loss initiatives and keep your spirits high.

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