Try a New Year's Theme Instead of a Resolution

Last year around this time, I wrote about ditching the New Year's resolution to opt for a New Year's theme instead. The idea is simple -- choose a single word that resonates with you as something you would like more of in your daily life, and use it as a theme to focus on throughout the upcoming year. A theme is gentler than a rigid resolution, and allows you to come back to it when you get off track throughout the year. Themes from last year's post -- mindfulness, enjoyment, movement and nourish -- are still great ideas for the upcoming year, but here are four more suggestions for themes, as well as how they might help you have a healthier year:

Intention. My personal favorite for the year, this theme is for anyone who feels they're running on autopilot most of the time. Quite simply, the theme of intention has to do with deliberately choosing how you spend your time, and also choosing how you approach tasks. In other words, it's choosing to spend time doing what you consider important, and less time on activities that are mindless or wasteful. If you've found yourself zoning out for big chunks of time on social media rather than going outside to get some exercise, or inhaling your lunch while you drive to another appointment, this theme might be just the ticket to bring you back into balance.

Simplify. Sometimes, our path to getting healthier is just blocked by too much clutter. Cooking at home is easier to do when the kitchen is streamlined and organized; for many, this means getting rid of all of the extra spices, cans, bottles and gadgets that are bursting out of the cabinets. Getting yourself out of bed to complete a morning run is much easier when your running shoes are not buried at the bottom of a messy closet. Choosing the theme of simplify to guide your year allows you to spend the year de-cluttering your life, ultimately making it easier to spend more time on the more important things. The beauty of choosing this as a theme is that you recognize it will be a process, not something you have to accomplish in just one weekend.

Strengthen. Feeling a little soft and run-down after the overindulgent holiday? Rather than making the typical resolution of "exercise more" or " lose 10 pounds," go for the theme of strengthen to guide your year. Do activities that make you stronger -- building muscle with weight-bearing activities, and strengthening your heart with some aerobic exercise. Eat foods that strengthen your immune system, such as fruits and vegetables; keep your bones strong and healthy, such as with yogurt and kefir; and feed your muscles with lean protein. In fact, tuck your scale away in a closet and simply focus on getting stronger. As you progress, you'll likely notice your clothes fitting better, and you'll undoubtedly feel more fit and lean.

Adventure. This theme is for anyone who feels stuck in a rut. If you want different results than what you've gotten so far, you have to change something; this is where the theme of adventure comes in. Trying out new recipes, unique foods, different cooking techniques or checking out a new fitness app can help you become healthier in the New Year. The key is the attitude of adventure -- you're willing to try and give something new a chance.

Melinda Johnson, MS, RDN, is the Director of the Didactic Program in Dietetics and a Clinical Assistant Professor for the Nutrition Program at Arizona State University. Follow her on Twitter @MelindaRD.