10 ways to start a healthier lifestyle now
New Year's resolutions get a bad rap — for a good reason. Does anyone actually find those things useful? Are you still working on them, 6 weeks later? Probably not.
Instead, set a few small intentions now that will make this year your healthiest ever, guaranteed.
Here are 10 easy ways to get started on a healthier lifestyle:
Cook at home more
It's true. Weight loss begins in the kitchen. As a rule of thumb, getting in shape amounts to about 75 percent diet and 25 percent exercise. That means even if you workout religiously, you still can't sneak away to the corner cantina for daily overstuffed burritos and expect to shed pounds. Homemade meals will always be your best bet because you're more aware of what you're eating — and you can control it. You can ensure you're getting the protein, fiber and other nutrients you need to feel your best and also keep risks for obesity, heart disease and diabetes at bay. If your busy schedule gets in the way of home cooked meals, let the Crock Pot be your new best friend. You can have a piping hot homemade dinner ready when you get home.
Schedule your doctors check-ups now
Make a list of all of the checkups and doctors appoints you know you need, and schedule them right away. This way, they're already on your calendar, and you're not missing out on potentially life-saving medical advice. If you wait to schedule appointments, it's easy to let them slip out of mind or find reasons why you can't fit them in this year. From dentist appointments to physicals, commit to your health now.
Disconnecting from your laptops and cellphones allows you to connect more with those people around you. It can also give you much needed time away from screens that can cause unpleasant side effects like blurred vision, neck pain or headaches. Set a specific hour of the day when you'll cut off use for the day, or designate one night per week as a "no phone night" and commit to no digital distractions.
Commit to an exercise
Doctors recommend getting around 150 minutes of moderate exercise activity per week, but this doesn't mean you have to spend it slamming weights around for hours. Choose an activity that you genuinely enjoy. Walk with a friend. Enroll in yoga or martial arts. Hike an outdoor trail near your house or explore your city or town by bicycle. Exercise doesn't have to mean marathon training — but of course, it can. Just choose something you love and commit to letting yourself have that time to work on your health.
When you're in a hurry, you're much more likely to grab whatever is handy — and that can lead to some pretty poor choices. Spend some time on Sunday evenings preparing weekly meals and ensuring you have healthy, handy, portioned out snacks available so you avoid the temptation of taking down a whole bag of tortilla chips. Low-fat string cheese, carrot sticks and hummus and Greek yogurt, make great grab-and-go items. For meals, plan on lean proteins and lots of easy-to-prep fruits and veggies.
Drink more water
Dehydration can cause tons of problems — everything from acne to obesity. It can even zap you of your energy. Reach for H20 even when you're not thirsty. If plain water doesn't excite you, add some fresh slices of citrus, cucumber or even jalapeño to make it more palatable without adding sugar or empty calories.
Thinking of things you are thankful for can help put you in a better mood. Showing others that you are thankful for them or their actions can put them in a better mood, too. Let happiness and positivity start from you and move outward through all the people you interact with. Send thank you cards or even "thinking of you cards" when you get vibes someone could use it. Do random acts of kindness, and make someone's life a little bit easier. If you hear yourself complaining, stop. Volunteer in your community. Tip well. Give a hug. Whatever showing gratitude means to you, make it a point this coming year.
Slather on the sunscreen
No matter who you are, no matter where you live, everyone should be wearing, at minimum, 30 SPF daily. Find a daily sunscreen moisturizer you love or mix some in with your current brand. Apply at least 30 minutes before heading outdoors.
Learn something new
Always wanted to learn Spanish? Play the harmonica? Master Sudoku? What about becoming a better investor or learning how to rock climb or create calligraphy? Learning new things makes you feel excited and more fulfilled. It also promotes brain health and may help ward off Alzheimer's disease. At the very least, you'll have a new hobby that can give you a personal or social outlet that can help manage stress.
Test your water
Instantly make your year healthier by testing your water. If you don't know what's in it, you could be drinking dangerous contaminants that can increase your risk of cancer or brain or nervous system damage. Visit EWG's Tap Water Database to enter your town and see what comes up. If your water poses a problem, the site has plenty of resources to help you choose the best way to filter it.