Each day brings about an opportunity for a fresh new start. Are you considering losing weight? Getting back in shape?

Diets are hard to stick with (trust me, I know!) and more often than not we cave in at the first sign of temptation.

Other times, diets can make us  miserable when we watch our coworkers, friends, loved ones, or anyone in a five foot radius eat what we crave the most.

Some people even get to the point where when they cave in, they end up eating more than what they originally started with.

So what can we do to improve our health and lose some weight without the pressure of a strict diet?

1. Cut back on the junk food.

Let’s say that your favorite snacks are cheddar and sour cream potato chips. You’re eating them every other day. Try limiting yourself to eating them once a week, then progress to once every two weeks, then to once a month. Then only indulge in them celebrate special occasions. By slowly cutting out the junk food, your body will be able to adapt to not needing it anymore.

2. Replace a starch with a veggie.

In America, our diets revolve around starchy foods. Bread, bread and more bread. It’s around us all the time. It’s in our desserts. It’s in our sandwiches. It’s the base of our pastas. It’s even in rice.

Most of us end up eating way too many starchy foods in the day. Yet, many of us aren’t getting our daily servings of vegetables. A great way to improve your overall health would be to switch out maybe a bagel or a piece of bread with a veggie instead, such as a carrot or tomato or even spinach. You can even ask to remove the bread from your burger for a lettuce wrap instead!

There are many veggies that can bring the same type of satisfaction that you get from bread, but without the downsides.

3. Be active for 10 minutes a day

Whether you already have a workout routine or are new to it, invest at least ten minutes a day working on your physique. That can be through a walk, a light jog, a heavy run, lifting weights or whatever best suits you.

The most important part is to repeat the routine daily.

When you continue to invest ten minutes a day into your body, your overall health will improve significantly.

4. Be grateful

Having a healthy body isn’t everything. Being mentally healthy is just as important. One of the most simple ways to maintain a healthy mind is to start each morning by thinking of at least three things you are grateful for. Not only does it help jumpstart your day, it helps you improve your mood throughout.

This one thing alone will have a significant impact on your overall happiness. Give it a try for one month and see how much better your life gets.

5.  Get a check up

Doing everything to get on track is only half the battle. We are just unable to avoid certain things. The best way to check to ensure you are in top-notch health and on track to hit your goals would be to see your primary care physician.

Your primary care physician will be able to do a full assessment on your health to assess how physically fit and mentally fit you are. Plus, they will be able to scan you for any infections or diseases that may play a crucial role in your overall well-being.

Schedule an appointment early each year so you can make your resolutions tie in with your doctor’s assessment of your health.

If you’re in the Southern California area and are in search of a primary care physician, call (800)USC-CARE (800-872-2273) or visit www.keckmedicine.org/request-an-appointment/ to schedule an appointment.

by Leonard Kim