January is the traditional month for people to sign up for weight loss programs and classes and seek out ways to become healthier. It’s the month when gym memberships skyrocket, and exercise equipment flies off the shelves.

That’s only natural. People are coming off a month or more of feasting and celebrating with all its attendant sugary and fatty foods. And who has time to exercise when there’s so much to do in December?

So we make our New Year’s resolutions and begin again in earnest in early January. This year, I’ve decided to impart some of my suggestions for losing weight and improving on your health.

What qualifies me to do this, you might ask? Well, for starters, I’ve lost 145 pounds over the past two years and have gotten off all prescription medications.

A few years ago, I never would have imagined being able to do all of that at almost 70 years of age.

I’m also certified by Cornell University in Plant-Based Nutrition, and I’ve learned to cook healthy meals through the Rouxbe Online Cooking School.

So, let’s get started with my prescription for losing weight and becoming healthier in 2016. First, think fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains. Those, along with nuts and seeds, are the healthiest foods on the planet, period.

In addition to being loaded with the vitamins and nutrients that our bodies need in order to fight off diseases – from the common cold to cancer and heart disease – those foods also are the lowest in something called calorie density (with the exception of nuts and seeds, which have a higher caloric density).

That’s a fancy way of saying they have fewer calories per ounce of food than other foods do.

So, the more fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains we eat, the lower the number of calories we eat, and the more disease-fighting nutrients we get.

The second thing to focus on is eating whole foods, which is a fancy way of saying we should eat foods the way nature grows them. For example, the more real apples you eat, as opposed to picking apple-flavored foods, the better off your health and your weight will be.

I think food writer Michael Pollan said it best when he wrote, “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.” That’s a prescription for better health and greater weight loss in 2016. Your body will thank you.

J Lanning Smith is a local freelance writer and graduate of Cornell University’s Plant-Based Nutrition program.