Durkin: Resolutions, down-to-earth this time

By Mollie Durkin

Our New Year’s resolutions need serious makeovers.

Many of us outline New Year’s… Our New Year’s resolutions need serious makeovers.

Many of us outline New Year’s resolutions, but to what avail? According to The Huffington Post, about one in three Americans resolves to better his life each year, but less than half of participants are actually still sticking with their plans six months after Jan. 1.

So what do we owe 2011 — a better bod, better grades or a better bank account?

None of the above, I say. Fie on difficulty! Here are the top five easiest things you can resolve to do — and stick to — in the new year.

1.) Manage your beauty sleep. If you weren’t looking your best over finals week, it might have been because of those exhausting all-nighters. It’s also possible your sleep routine might be out of whack from the suddenly lighter schedule during winter break.

It’s time to get on track. Too little shut-eye has been linked to a greater risk of obesity and Type 2 diabetes, and sleep is crucial for strengthening memories, The Huffington Post reports. And on the other hand, too much sleep can lead to time management issues if prioritized poorly.

There is one simple solution available for the industrious among us: Keep a sleep log. To keep a sleep log, you write down the time you fall asleep — this might seem impossible, unless you know the average person falls asleep seven minutes after hitting the pillow — and then recording the time you wake up. Throughout history, sleep logs were kept by pen and paper on nightstands, but today in the smartphone era, you can browse the app market for a free sleep logger.

It’s a simple, yet effective way to manage your body’s clock and reap the health and mood benefits that are sure to follow you far into 2011.

2.) Stop obsessing over yourself. With the new year arriving and first lady Michelle Obama promoting obesity awareness, men and women everywhere are examining and then reexamining their waistlines. And for some, it’s natural to be a mirror-scrutinizer. But rather than prodding at our “trouble areas,” we should embrace our shapes.

It’s obvious that body image is a mental issue and that being too, let’s say, “bootylicious” isn’t viable for our health, but the basis for the solution begins with your very own mirror. This year, learn to love your body. Avoid anything or anyone that leads you to feel ashamed or critical of it. This might mean cutting down on your Taco Bell intake, drawing your eyes away from celebrities or pitching clothes that don’t flatter you.

Getting rid of those bad influences will let you focus on important tasks and ideas — not scrutinizing your body.

And if you’re already fit, you don’t have to be a gym rat. The New York Times reported that working out just once a week might just be enough for athletes to maintain strength gains.

So if working out is a chore, give those dumbbells a rest. You’ll still look fabulous.

3.) Party soft. It’s cool to have fun on the weekends, but this year, don’t be opposed to turning the alcohol intake down a notch. The Huffington Post reports that drinking alcohol in excess can increase the risk of depression, memory loss and seizures, and chronic heavy drinking boosts your risk of liver and heart disease, hypertension, stroke, mental deterioration and even cancers of the mouth, throat, liver and breast. That doesn’t sound like much fun.

It’s OK to let loose sometimes, but if drinking has gotten you into trouble, made you do something you regret or caused you to neglect more important things, put down the booze. It’s one of the easiest things you can do this year for your health.

4.) Get into blogging. There are many blogging sites that make it easy to start your own page, but if you don’t have time to start your own, following other bloggers can teach you a lot about current events, Internet memes and what people think about the world.

There are blogs devoted to Marilyn Monroe, animals, curvaceous women, Pokémon, funny things and women with hairy armpits. There’s a blog out there for everyone. Give the blogging world a try.

5.) Talk to someone new. Even if you are an introvert, talking to people is still beneficial. Having friends might keep you healthier and help you deal with stress better, and some studies show that people with close friends have a greater ability to fight disease those who prefer to be alone, Reader’s Digest reported.

Branching out can lead to even closer friendships than the ones you have. Say something to the girl next to you on the first day of class or smile at that one guy you always see around. Pitt has more than 28,000 students.

It might seem daunting, but in that number there is a great chance there is someone here just like you. Talking to a couple new people isn’t hard when circumstances like classes and clubs bring together people with similar interests and goals.

The new year is the perfect time to begin to let yourself grow. It is a fresh slate of professors, curricula, classmates and opportunities. Your wellness doesn’t depend on a list of impossible resolutions. Let this small, easy list be your starter guide to a simpler, healthier 2011.