The New Year is a time to reset, reprogram and re-shift our focus and put priorities first. For many, that simply means getting healthy. Eating better, getting active, sleeping more, and surrounding yourself with positive individuals are all ways in which one can improve health & longevity. The benefits of getting healthy is almost endless. From thinking clearer to losing weight and increasing libido, getting healthy is a valuable investment at any age. Below are 23 things you can do to improve your health, increase happiness and add years to your life. Along with this list of 35 ways to be the best you, incorporate these into your life one at a time with the ultimate goal of making each a lifestlye change in your new healthy life. Cheers to a new year, new you!
1. Be active at least ten minutes everyday.
Whether you walk during the lunch break or hit the gym before work, it is important to include regular activity in your daily routine. Not only will your waistline thank you, but your brain will benefit in the form of more focus and clearer thought process. Physical activity also improves sleep.
2. Eat a vegetable at every meal.
If you can’t remember the last time you ate something green, then shame. I’m not talking about green skittles either. Vegetables are chock full of antioxidants that keep your skin looking young and your immune system functioning. Make it a goal to eat vegetables at breakfast, lunch and dinner. Spinach is versatile enough to incorporate in scrambled eggs or be included as the base of a raw salad. Kale & cauliflower are some of my favorites.
3. Turn off all electronics at least one hour before bedtime.
The blue light found in many electronics keeps you focused when you are working during the day. The problem is at night: the blue light keeps you up longer than you intend thus effecting quality and duration of sleep. Do yourself a favor and stay off the electronics at least one hour prior to sleep. Fill your time with reading or taking an epsom salt bath. You will notice the more fulfilling sleep sessions almost immediately.
4. Get 7-9 hours of sleep every night.
Getting quality sleep will increase your productivity the next day. Not only will your thinking improve, you will have a more optimistic outlook and will be a better team player in the office. Everyone wins.
5. Replace sugary drinks with water or tea.
The blood sugar crash caused by consuming sugary drinks is not worth it in the long run. Sugary drinks contain empty calories and only leaves you craving more sugar. There was once a man who gave up soda for 40 days and 40 nights and lost 40 pounds instantly. Give it a try will ya.
6. Refrain from reaching for the bread basket.
When at a restaurant, forego the bread basket. In fact, tell the waiter not to bring out the bread basket to keep temptation away. This way you will save yourself the empty calories and carbohydrates and will savor your entree that much more.
7. Prepare lunch from home and bring to work.
I once had a co-worker who spent at least $15 per day on lunch and coffee. $75 saved per week can buy a single person enough groceries for 2-3 weeks! Part of getting healthy is making sure you have your financial house in order. The savings produced from not eating out can go towards your retirement fund or emergency savings.
8. Say no to dessert on weekdays, unless its fruit.
If having dessert after dinner is something you are accustomed to daily, then just adjust your plans: weekday desserts are fruit (berries & cream, anyone?) while you save the more decadent options for a weekend date night.
9. Have protein at every meal.
Best way to stay satiated, increase energy, and combat sweets cravings is to eat protein. Case in point, a breakfast of eggs and bacon can ward off hunger well past lunchtime but choosing a pastry with a side of fruit can leave one ravenous within 1-2 hours. Last I heard, eating less frequently naturally because of nutrient-dense, protein-rich meals is a great tool for fighting fat.
10. Walk or bike your errands on the weekend.
If you live in a town where your grocery store, post office, or drugstore is conveniently located within walking distance, then challenge yourself to walk your errands on the weekends. There’s nothing like taking a morning walk to the local post office to mail a letter then hitting up the local eatery for brunch with friends. BONUS: walking back home aids in the digestion process.
11. Get a library card & use it often.
How many of us have a library card but haven’t used it in years? This year, take advantage of the wonderful free resources offered by your local library. Rent books, magazines, DVDs, then take them back and rent more! Knowledge is power.
12. Try a new workout.
Trying out a new workout is a great way to add variety to your routine. If the treadmill is the only piece of cardio equipment you use, then how about trying the evening Zumba class for a good sweat session? You never know, you may discover a new passion.
13. Cut back on watching Television.
If you regularly watch 5 hours of television each evening, challenge yourself to cut back to just 3 hours. Slowly reduce the amount of time being sedentary watching television and instead fill that time with reading, exercising, or catching up with loved ones on the phone or video chat. Personally, I do not have a television and its the best gift I could give myself both health-wise and financially.
14. Put a budget together & follow it.
Often times we get so used to spending money because we have it. $5 here for coffee, $80 there for a pair of new shoes. Yes it is great to be able to treat yourself to the simple indulgencies life has to offer, but what if you were able to save an extra $100 each week? In a year’s time you would have enough to treat yourself to an international vacation. Cut expenses where you can and save for something better. Here is a useful budget guide.
15. Enjoy the outdoors more.
We as humans tend to feel better after spending time outside in the sun. Not only for emotional benefits, but the outdoors re-energizes us and gives us that boost we need to accomplish tasks. At the office eat your lunch outdoors, take strolls with co-workers, and enjoy picnics and BBQs with the family.
16. Cook dinners starting from fresh.
Canned and frozen foods offers flexibility and convenience. But often times these options pale in taste and nutrient content compared to their fresh counterparts. Fresh fruits & vegetables from the farmer’s market is the best choice you can make in terms of nutrition and from an ethical standpoint. As soon as you buy your produce, wash and cut them up, then refrigerate so that they are ready to use when needed. Prepping your produce ahead of time is a smart way to reduce the occurrence of a notorious, money-wasting phenomenon I like to call rotting-by-expiration.
17. Eat seafood 2-3 times per week.
Fish is rich in anti-inflammatory omega-3 essential fatty acids. Omega-3s has been shown to improve cardiovascular health, fight joint pain, beautify skin, hair & nails, reduce PMS and cramping as well as improve post-exercise muscle recovery and reduce soreness. Eat seafood 2-3 times per week and/or supplement with quality fish oil to reap the benefits.
18. Replace sugary snacks with fruit and protein.
Like any drug addiction, the best way to fight sugar addiction is to remove sugar from the diet. Otherwise, even a small taste of sweet can trigger a binge. This year, overcome your reliance on sugar by removing sugary snacks and replacing them with fruit and protein. The combination offers a nutrient-dense, fiber rich sweet option paired with the satiating powers of protein to ward off cravings.
19. Choose non-sugary alcoholic drinks.
Those expensive cocktails with the pretty names can prove ugly to your waistline. In the name of health, the best alcoholic beverage options include red & white wine, and clear spirits mixed in with a dash of soda water (tonic) & lemon or lime. This way you can enjoy a beverage or two with friends without sabotaging your health goals.
20. Supplement with vitamin D.
Over 80% of Americans are vitamin D deficient and don’t even know it. That number is higher within the African-American community. I was baffled to learn that I had exceptionally low levels of vitamin D considering that I eat well, take a multi-vitamin and absorb California sun almost daily. However, being dark skinned can block the vitamin-D filled UV rays from penetrating the skin. Vitamin D in foods are so minimal that it is close to impossible to optimize vitamin D levels without supplementation. The best supplement type is the liquid drops D3 variety which gets absorbed and utilized better than D2.
21. Enjoy life – smile at the good times & learn from the bad.
What’s the joy of life if you always complain about things that happen to you? True, bad things happen to all of us. The key to overcoming it is how you react to such misfortune. Stay optimistic and find the lesson in each life event. Happier days often equals a longer, more fulfilling life.
22. Surround yourself with people that bring out the best in you.
Who you socialize with reflects a piece of who you are. If your friends are pessimistic and have no drive to grow and excel, then subconsciously that behavior will rub off on you. Slowly, you will find yourself making excuses not to take care of business and do the things that are important for your success. Make sure the people you hang around with share your passion and drive towards success and self-improvement.
23. Hire a Nutrition Coach and Personal Trainer
Hiring a certified health professional can help you achieve your goals faster by taking the guess work and stress due to lack of success out of the equation. Not to mention, the accountability factor plays a huge part in you staying dedicated and plowing through stressful times. After all, you ARE worth the investment right?Follow @soulwholesome