As we usher in a new year, it’s natural to start thinking about what you want to accomplish with another 365 days ahead of you (give or take). Many people like to focus on health and wellness, and we think that’s a pretty good place to start. When you feel your best, it seems like other areas of your life begin to improve, too. From nutrition and sleep to daily activity and goal setting, we’ve got eight tips to start your year off on the right note.
1. Add a different nutritious food to your meals each week
Change is good and that extends to your fruit and veggie choices, too. Start with the alphabet: week one, A is for asparagus. Eat them grilled, sauteed, baked or raw. Week two, B is for brussels sprouts. Eat them sauteed or baked with balsamic glaze. Week three, C is for clementine. Grab one or two and eat them as a snack throughout the day. Adding some variety to your meals will allow you to try foods you might otherwise avoid and will help you benefit from the specific vitamins and minerals each provides.
2. Drink more water
It’s no secret that drinking more water is one of the easiest ways to improve your health and wellness. When your body is hydrated well, it runs more efficiently and helps provide increased energy, improved skin complexion and boosted immunity. Have a headache? Before you reach for the Tylenol or Advil, try drinking a large glass of water. It’s amazing what a well-hydrated body can do. If you’re not sure how much water to consumer each day, start by drinking half your body weight. So, for example, if you weigh 150 pounds, drink 75 ounces of water daily.
3. Replace harsh household cleaners with natural products
There are numerous substitutions you can make to replace harsh chemicals found in most household cleaners (like bleach or ammonia) that are easy to find at your local grocery store. Talk to any green-living expert or organic devotee, and they’ll tell you that the best natural cleaning product is regular white vinegar and baking soda, with a little lemon or orange thrown in. But, if you don’t have the time or desire to make your own, there are plenty of natural cleaners on the market. Here’s a list of 17 of the best to get you started.
4. Be active daily
Sounds simple enough, right? That’s because it is. All you have to do is aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate activity each day. It can be as simple as walking (many studies show that daily walking promotes disease prevention) or as ambitious as full strength training. You can even break it up throughout the day as your schedule allows. Maybe you walk for 15 minutes in the morning and then run through some light circuit training for another 15 minutes at night. Also, you can use this as an opportunity to try a new activity like indoor rock climbing. Sometimes, we get stuck in a rut when it comes to our fitness regiment, so by adding something different like climbing to the schedule, you activate new muscle groups and have fun while doing it.
5. Create your own space
We all need time to ourselves to regroup and recharge. Find a good space in your home or office where you can decompress and take a moment to yourself.
6. Sleep 8 hours a night
We know how difficult this can be, but studies confirm that we really do need at least 8 hours of sleep per night. With hectic family and work schedules, getting to bed at a decent hour and logging a full 8 can seem daunting. However, it’s hard to argue the benefits. Among them: adequate sleep makes you feel better overall, decreases your risk of cardiovascular disease and boosts memory. So go ahead, hit that snooze button.
7. Reduce your sugar and caffeine intake
These two are also commonly referred to as the “legal evils.” It might be difficult to believe, but decreasing your sugar intake can actually increase your energy levels, by minimizing the highs and lows that sweet foods triggers. As for caffeine, it affects people differently, but most of us are already overstimulated and don’t really need it. If you feel like your energy is low, try drinking some water with lemon, eating a snack and taking a short walk.
8. Focus on eating, not dieting
When thinking of nutrition (and especially weight loss), many people immediately try to cut the number of meals they consume each day. That’s a recipe for disaster, since you’re more likely to overeat later to compensate for your hunger. Instead, try eating more often during the day to avoid hunger pangs and late-night binge eating. Eat every four hours or so, and make sure to eat a “second lunch” - think of it as another meal rather than a snack - in the mid-afternoon to keep your energy levels up. Opt for healthy choices in smaller portions and you’ll remain full and satisfied without overindulging.
Have other ideas or tips we should try? Feel free to share them with us on Facebook or Instagram, @lifestylecommunities. Happy New Year!