10 Little Habits That Sabotage Your Health

chocolate-lustMany New Year’s resolutions center around self-improvement — including weight loss, getting more exercise in or just adopting better eating habits.

The new year is a time for you to refresh yourself and get excited about all the great things you can achieve, so don’t let anything hold you back — including those pesky little habits that we’ve all been guilty of throughout the year. Here are just 10 to watch out for as you work your way towards living your healthiest life, any time during the year.

1. Trying to Exercise Off Unhealthy Food Choices

Exercise is never the antidote for eating unhealthy foods or overdoing it on calories. It might seem you can you just “work off” extra calories, but the body is made for survival — meaning extra calories really pack on the weight (or in the case of naturally slender tall people show up in their blood as fat). It takes about 1 hour of brisk running to burn off 400 calories, so if you want to indulge once a week with that high calorie treat, go ahead! But make it a weekly treat, not a daily one.

2. Ordering Out Because You’re Too Tired To Cook

Everyone falls into this trap because we all lead very busy lives! But ordering out can mean not only spending more money but getting anywhere from 400-600 extra calories in just one meal (meaning that meal can tally up to 1000 calories!). The easiest way to avoid the “order out trap”? Make a few meals in the beginning of the week that can be easily reheated, like soups, stews, taco meat, and lasagna. You can also freeze these items in doubled up sandwich bags or small containers for easy meals that just need to be defrosted/reheated.

3. Comparing Your Body To Others

I’m sure you’ve experienced this: “I wish my ___ looked like this person’s ___. The first step to being healthy is to have healthy thoughts about yourself, so do yourself a favor and dump the temptation to compare your body to someone else’s. Learn to accentuate your own beauty and care for the body you have. Embrace your shape and try these fun exercises that work for whatever shape you have — apple, pear or banana!

4. Not Knowing Your “Repeat Offender”

The repeat offender is something you eat daily (or at least 4 times a week) that seems harmless to your health but can really be sabotaging your efforts to being healthier. It might be candy bars, sodas, snack bars, or coffee drinks — but chances are, it has zero or very low nutrition, packs on plenty of empty calories and it’s your “go-to” food when you’re feeling low-energy or down. Keep a simple food journal for one week which will “reveal” the repeat offender! Then give it up for just two weeks and see what happens — the results may shock you — it could be weight loss, better sleep, less stress or even energy throughout the day.

5. Ignoring Body Pain

“My back’s been killing me for weeks” my husband always says. He sees it as a nuisance as a computer fiend who likes to work at his desk without moving for hours on end. But I see it as his body’s desperate cry for help, and it’s saying “I need exercise”! Believe it or not, a little exercise daily goes a long way. A twenty minute yoga routine that you do in your living room can mean the difference between a bad back and feeling pain-free and comfortable. Try building your own easy routine for back pain.

6. Skipping Meals Because You Feel Out Of Shape

It’s easy to get into an overeating rut during the holidays (or any time of year for that matter), but skipping meals doesn’t mean you’re doing right by your body. If you’re looking to lose or just get more energy, try eating a light salad or making this delectably easy asparagus soup that you can sip for under 200 calories a portion.

7. Setting Yourself Up For Failure

Are you setting your health goals too high, or trying to make a big chance happen in just a few weeks? One of the main reasons New Year’s resolutions and diets for that matter don’t pan out, has to do with making the goal or process too hard to follow. Be realistic when setting goals or set them in stages. If it’s weight loss, start with eating better and setting your sights on losing a few pounds gradually — small changes won’t feel like your trying to climb Mount Everest every day. Once you see results and feel confident, set another goal.

8. Not Getting Enough “Primary Foods” In Your Diet

As a grad of the Institute of Integrative Nutrition I learned about primary foods — other “foods” (or rather activities and relationships) that nourish our lives. Think about the things that give you joy, meaning or fulfillment, those that make life worth living. These so-called primary foods feed us beyond the plate — our spirituality, jobs, relationships, recreational and physical activities — and for me, cooking itself falls into this realm. Anything you feel passionate about is probably a primary food for you, that sustains your life, and as a result, has the potential to impact your health.

9. Not Getting Enough Sleep/Rest

Sleep is a highly underrated health habit in our go-go tech-focused world. Getting enough sleep can mean better immunity, less stress, make it easier to lose weight or maintain your weight, and make you a more positive person. Try to steer clear of habits that can keep you from falling into a deep sleep like watching too much TV at night (or violent shows in the evening), using your computer or texting on your phone (which keeps the brain activated), or exercising too close to bed time. If you’re a coffee drinker, try to limit the amount or stop drinking coffee by noon, it takes anywhere from 8-10 hours for caffeine’s effect to wind down in your system.

10. Having An Attitude Of Gratitude

Sometimes when things aren’t working out like we hope, it’s easy to get discouraged or feel like the “world’s” against you. But counting your blessings can make life seem easiest and alleviate a lot of the stress we actually create for ourselves with our attitude or our own expectations. Being a gracious and grateful person is a very attractive trait to have — and it can actually draw people and opportunities to you.

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