Everyone loves the prospect of a brandnew year with exciting possibilities. But how many times have you set a New Year’s resolution for yourself only to find that come March, you’re back to your old habits wondering how you got off track?
So try one of these easy-to-keep resolutions that can mean big pay-offs over the months to come!
1. Drink more water. Getting plenty of water on a daily basis can do wonders for your digestive system, your skin, and your overall health. Water is the key ingredient used by all the organs in your body, for their everyday functions including moving nutrients into your cells and whisking toxins out of your body. Drinking enough water, especially when you usually forget to drink, during a busy work day, can keep sugar and salt cravings at bay.
2. Eat probiotic foods like yogurt, kefir, olives, and low-sodium pickles. Probiotic or cultured foods contain the “good bacteria” that aid not only in digestion but have recently been studied for their ability to ward off diseases like obesity and diabetes. Feasting on this pro-bug foods will also mean that you’re replenishing the colonies that normally live in your large intestine but only get there by the foods we eat.
3. Eat more Veggies. Ok, everyone has been telling you this for years, but it’s not as hard as you think. Plan on getting 2 extra cups of veggies into your day, every day! Add 1 cup of baby spinach to your smoothie and 1 cup chopped broccoli to your favorite pasta sauce, it could be that easy!
4. Eat less packaged foods. Instead of reaching for that packaged bread or box of cereal for breakfast, cook 100% unprocessed whole grains for breakfast (like oats, quinoa, or amaranth). They all cook in 20 minutes or less and you can flavor them with healthy toppings like a tablespoon of chopped nuts and a pinch of cinnamon.
5. Reduce stress in your sleep! Get 30 minutes extra sleep, at least 3 times a week. Going to bed early might seem like you’re “copping out” but putting away the phone, computer, or shutting off the TV 30 minutes early could mean a more restful, longer sleep. Some health experts say if you can get to bed around 10pm it’s the best time to fall asleep because that’s when the sleep hormone melatonin is at its strongest.
6. Skinnify your favorite family recipe, with two simple ideas. Swap out white carbs for the whole grain version (so white pasta for whole grain) and add more superfoods while taking highly processed foods out — so add baby spinach to your meatloaf instead of store-bought breadcrumbs, for example.
7. Fall in love with your body and think positive thoughts. Be thankful for the body you have instead of thinking about the parts you don’t like, then plan on doing something every week to take care of the body you live in! Plan a long relaxing walk with a good friend to catch up on gossip, or eat a salad, book a soothing massage, or make a fresh juice for yourself.
8. Exercise 20 minutes a day, at your own pace, any type of exercise. No need run a marathon in 20 minutes (unless you enjoy it), just take a brisk 20 minute walk, do 20 minutes of yoga in your living room. Or pop in an exercise DVD and follow along. Can’t swing 20 solid minutes in the day? Then do 10 minutes in the morning and 10 minute before dinner. Studies show that just 20 minutes of exercise a day can do wonders not only for your body but also for your memory!
9. Swap out just one unhealthy item in your diet that you eat on a regular basis with one healthy item. Used to having that candy bar every day around three o’clock? Try swapping it for an apple and watch the pounds start to melt away over the months. Hooked on soda? Swap it for sodium-free seltzer water and you could be saving 1000 calories or more a week (adding up to several pounds a month).
10. Worried about your salt intake? Instead of reaching for that salt shaker, reach for a pinch of hot chili — it will tingle your tongue without racking up the salt. Chopped jalapeno, ground cayenne, and thinly sliced Serrano chili are all good choices.
11. Have fun with your food! Love your burger, pizza and tacos? Have them — just make the healthier versions at home. You’ll lighten the calorie load, add more whole food ingredients like superfood vegetables, spices and whole grains to your meals the easy way.
12. Include one of these tasty and powerful anti-inflammatory foods into your meals weekly — ground cinnamon, hot chilies, or grated fresh ginger. Experts say that eating plenty of veggies and fruits along with other anti-inflammatory foods can not only ward off disease but also help you to lose or maintain weight.
13. Rethink snacking. Healthy snacking on a regular basis seems like a good idea but it’s only healthy if done correctly. An afternoon snack is OK if you’re hungry and you can’t make it to the next meal, but skip that snack if you’re not hungry. If you’re having trouble gauging hunger, have a glass of water or a cup of hot tea first.
14. Ditch the protein bar. Most protein bars are basically candy bars in disguise, they are high in sugar and carbs, high in preservatives, and high in calories. Sure, they have protein but they don’t fill you up because the portion size is small. Instead, try an apple with almond butter, or leftover chicken fingers you can pack in a snack bag, or a handful of antioxidant-rich nuts.
15. Save more money and eat better! Sounds like a dream but it might be as easy as making eggs for breakfast or making your own coffee drink. Breakfast out and those gourmet coffee drinks can add up to $5 a day or more, that means $25 a week, $100 a month. For a quarter of the cost you can have hot coffee and eggs at home, save money, save calories, and only add 10 minutes to your morning routine.