New Year, New You: 10 small daily changes to improve your health in 2015
It's a new year, and that means it's time to reevaluate your diet and fitness plan. This can be a big job, and many times you get burnt out just thinking about it. But, there are a lot of small changes that can yield big results in the long term. Commit to making a few of these small changes every day and you'll feel better, and chances are you'll end up losing a few pounds without even realizing it!
1. Let's start with something you know: drink more water.
Make it a goal to drink a full glass of water first thing in the morning. Your body craves it after a nights sleep and it will energize you more than a cup of coffee. Continue drinking through the day - carry a water bottle with you wherever you go to encourage yourself to keep it up. Here are a few more tips to help you make sure to drink enough water.
2. Track what you eat.
Start a food diary this year and write down everything you eat (or use a food tracking app on your phone). Having an actual record of what you're eating may stop you from over-indulging and will help you understand how many calories you're actually ingesting. Keeping a log takes the guesswork out of amending your diet- if you're trying to lose a few pounds - as you'll know exactly how (and what) you're eating and that in-and-of-itself can help inspire change.
3. Understand what you're eating and how food affects your body.
Stock up on fruit and vegetables and stay away from preservatives as much as you can. Easier said than done, I know, but if you make it a habit to replace one processed snack a day with grapes, carrots or an apple, you're moving in the right direction!
I never necessarily thought of Cameron Diaz as a health expert, but last year I read her book, Body Book. She really dives into nutrition and understanding why your body needs food, what food it needs, and how you can feel your best by feeding your body right. If you have some time, give it a read.
Even if you don't have time for a workout, dedicate 15 minutes in the morning to some good stretching. Stretching improves flexibility, decreases muscle stiffness and pain, improves posture, promotes circulation, helps reduce stress and much more! Here are 6 full body stretching exercises you can start today.
If you have more time, check out these indoor fitness apps that can help you get a great workout in, in the comfort of your own home.
5. Get moving!
A walk at lunch, taking the stairs, going an extra block while walking the dog - all of these small steps add up. Don't forget how important it is to keep moving throughout the day, especially if you work in an office environment.
For Christmas this year I asked for a Fitbit. But in my competitive nature, I also bought my husband one (and if I hadn't got one, at least I'd have his :)). Anyway, he came through, and I gave him his, and every day since we've been competing for most steps. I'm definitely putting in some extra steps and taking the stairs whenever possible, just to get ahead of his step count. So, if you have a competitive nature, grab a few activity trackers and get moving! Fitness trackers range from anywhere from $20 to $200 - here is a good comparison chart to make sure you find the best one for you.
6. Cut out the sugar.
Before you panic, know this: sugar, while not evil, is not your friend. Processed sugar not only leads to a spike in obesity, diabetes and heart disease, your body doesn't need it. Now this doesn't mean you can't have something sweet now and again (think dark chocolate and natural sugars like dates, grapes and figs) but if you really knew the amount of processed sugar you ate in a day, you'd probably faint. So start by omitting sugar when it comes to your coffee or cereal, and then start reading the labels on the foods you buy. With so many healthy alternatives out there, you owe it to your family and yourself to get educated.
7. Get more sleep.
Not only is sleep directly tied to weight loss (yep!), you can't go anywhere without hearing how we need at least 7 hours a night. Your body is tasked with so much during the day, it needs to recover. If you're struggling to get some shut-eye, we've got some tips to get you on the way to dreamland.
Start each day with a mug of warm lemon juice, sprinkled with cayenne. This combo will help cleanse your body for better digestion and rev your metabolism, according to The Food Babe. She also offers other great tips and even healthy eating guides on her site to rid your body of toxins, if you want to take it a step further.
9. Take vitamins.
While we'd hope we're getting all the nutrition we need from our food alone, a boost of vitamins will help ensure you're truly getting the optimal amounts. Especially in the winter, people's vitamin D levels are more prone to dropping, which can lead to a case of the blues and other issues. So look into a good daily multi-vitamin, and especially vitamin D. If you're taking multiple vitamins and/or pills each day, it's helpful to use a weekly pill holder to serve as a reminder to take your vitamins - this Ezy Dose Travel Pill Container is convenient and also allows you to pop out individual days' rations to bring on a trip if needed.
10. Portion Control.
Ok, sure, this may seem obvious...but, if it really is obvious then why do so many of us not even think twice about mowing-down the full rack of BBQ ribs platter or etxra-large value meal from the drive-through as if it were our last known meal? As more research is conducted into both our eating habits and the content of what we're eating, one of the first trends that you'll note is meal size. What used to be an extra-large fountain soda at a fast-food restaurant is now merely medium. Restaurant meal portions, particularly chains, have continued to grow.
What can be done about it? Well, in addition to items #2, #3 and #6, you can work on preparing meals that stick to the hand method. Consciously work to s-l-o-w d-o-w-n your eating. Allowing your stomach time to communicate with your brain via digestive hormones about the state of hunger or satiation that you might be feeling can take several minutes. Allow it to take place instead of ramming an oversize portion down quickly while your stomach and brain struggle to catch-up.
What changes are you making in 2015 for a happier, healthier you?