January is right around the corner and with the new year comes New Year’s resolutions. Every year we make resolutions, even though most of us don’t keep them for more than a few weeks if that long! Yet we continue to set resolutions each year because we have hope and a certain level of belief in our ability to change and be more of who we really want to be. What can we do to actually accomplish our annual ‘Get Healthier’ resolution this year? First, don’t wait until January 1. Start now. As the saying goes, ‘there is no better time than the present.’ Second, choose small, easy steps that you can take. Here are 10 simple things that you can do every day to improve your health. If you can accomplish 1, or all 10, each day, you will be doing something good for yourself.
Start your day with a tall glass of water and add a slice of lemon to it. Lemons have all sorts of wonderful vitamins, nutrients, and antioxidants that can boost energy, reduce inflammation, improve your immune system, clear up your skin, and aid in digestion.
Eat a serving of berries. A half-cup of fresh or frozen berries (blackberries, cherries, blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries) contains micronutrients such as vitamin C and folic acid as well as phytochemicals that have a range of potential anti-cancer and anti- heart disease properties including antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and cell regulatory effects.
Exercise for 30 minutes. The basic recommendation for exercise is to include at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity a day for good health and well-being. Activities such as brisk walking, yoga, and biking are great options. If you are trying to lose weight, try increasing the intensity or duration of your daily exercise.
Have a green salad with your meal. Whether it’s a plain green salad or one full of colorful vegetables, fill half your plate with the salad. You’ll be increasing the amount of vegetables you eat every day and control your portion size at the same time.
Enjoy a piece of fruit or a small square of dark chocolate (at least 70% cacao) for dessert instead of cookies or ice cream. Studies have shown that a daily dose of dark chocolate is good for your heart, brain, and overall health. In addition to being healthy and delicious, dark chocolate contains much less sugar than other treats.
Stop eating 3 hours before bedtime. This is a good habit for many reasons, including – you will likely sleep better without all the food in your stomach, evening snacking usually involves reaching for unhealthy items like ice cream and/or potato chips, and you will likely wake up feeling lighter and more energized.
Move your body throughout the day. Sitting for long periods of time is not good for your body. Whether you are sitting in front of a computer or tv or even reading, you should be taking regular breaks. Try walking for a few minutes, stretching, or doing some bodyweight exercises like squats or lunges.
Eat at least 1 serving (½ cup) of cruciferous vegetables. Common cruciferous vegetables include broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, collards, arugula, and kale. Cruciferous vegetables are rich in nutrients, including carotenoids; vitamins C, E, and K; folate; and minerals. They also are a good fiber source and may help prevent cancer. You could easily add ½ cup of raw broccoli or cauliflower to your green salad (#4) to check off 2 of the 10 habits!
Make your meals colorful. Eating fruits and veggies in a variety of colors — red, dark green, yellow, blue, purple, white, and orange — not only makes your meals more attractive but including a variety of colors also provides a broad range of nutrients. For example, start with your green salad (#4), add ½ cup cauliflower and red cabbage (#8), and some tomatoes, and now you have green, white, purple, and red all on your plate, and you’ve accomplished 3 healthy habits!
Get outside. Getting outside for a few minutes a day during daylight hours can do wonders for your mood. Studies show that being outdoors, surrounded by nature and fresh air, can increase your energy. Even if you live in the city, being outdoors for just 10-20 minutes a day can benefit your health. Whether you stand in your backyard, on your porch or balcony, or take a walk through a forest or park, the fresh air will likely reduce your stress and increase your energy.