Want to have a really happy new year this year and for years to come? Then make this the year that you start getting serious about making improvements to your health. Make the commitment to start now taking small manageable steps that will pay back in health rewards as you get older. You don’t have to change everything at once, just start in this new year with one healthy living improvement to make a change. If you accomplish that one change, then move on to another and another. As many as you can do even if it’s only one thing in this new year will get you started towards your healthy living goals. Think you are too busy, too old, or too young to start on this journey? You’re not! No matter what your age or how hectic your schedule is, you can find simple things to do that will make a difference in your health now and in the future. Here’s some examples we’ve gathered from experts.
Develop Healthy Eating Habits – This category covers a very broad area, but break it down and make just one commitment for the week or for the month and you’ll be more successful. Forget about going on a crash diet as these seldom work for long term results. Instead examine what you eat now and choose to add more nutritional foods into your meals. Dr. JoAnn Manson, chief of preventive medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, advises committing to serving fish like salmon, tuna, mackerel or herring two times a week will help your brain and heart and can help you reduce your risk of cancer. These types of fatty coldwater fish have lots of omega-3 fatty acids and if you just can’t make yourself take the time to cook fish, at least open a can of tuna or salmon or even easier get your omega-3 the way the fish do by eating algae. AFA bluegreen algae wholefood supplements are a great way to add a variety of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and trace minerals to your diet from a whole foods source. Your goal might also be to eat more fiber and antioxidant foods by adding new fruits or vegetables into your meals. Just pick one new fruit or vegetable each week at the store that you’ve never tried before. Healthy eating goals might also include deciding to cook at least one time each week instead of eating out, taking a healthy lunch instead of grabbing a fast food lunch at work, cutting up fruits or veggies ahead of time for the week and packaging them to take for snacks, or making sure you eat breakfast in the morning. Pick something simple that you believe you will really do to insure greater success.
Cut Down on Sugar and Snacks – You may think that going without your sugar fix will leave you with less energy, but according to the medical director of the Boston Public Health Commission, Dr. Nancy Norman, the reverse is actually true. Too much sugar also can kill off the friendly bacteria in your intestines that you need to fight off bad bacteria and germs, can lead to an overgrowth of yeast which can lead to Candida symptoms, and helps add to the free radicals in your body that can damage cells. Take a hard, honest look at what you are eating and read food labels looking for added sugars. Start by cutting out one food or snack at a time that you find is filled with sugar. Find a substitute for that sugary snack that will keep you from being hungry, but that is a healthy alternative. If you eat a bowl of ice cream after dinner, try substituting a bowl of yogurt and berries, for candy bars substitute a square of dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa, or replace those donuts with a whole grain bagel and cream cheese. If you find there are certain times of the day you snack the most or that you snack during certain activities, be aware and plan ahead for those times. Try chewing sugar-free gum, getting up and moving around, or having a glass of water or cup of tea in your hands.
Add Water to Your Day – This certainly includes drinking more water which is essential to good health, keeping the body hydrated and helps clean out your body. Make the commitment to drink a glass of water every morning before you do anything else, have a water bottle at your desk to sip throughout the day, or keep count of how much water you drink now and decide to add one more glass a day. 8 glasses a day is the usual recommended amount of water to drink and if you are exercising or sick you may need even more. The other way to add water to your day though is to increase the amount you wash your hands. Washing your hands regularly throughout the day can help cut down on the number of germs that get into your system that can make you sick. Make the decision to wash your hands each time you use a public restroom or after touching the menu and before you eat at a restaurant, or anytime you are in a shared environment and touch surfaces that others have touched. Even if you aren’t about to eat, we usually touch our faces about three to five times a minute and that’s a lot of chances to introduce germs into the body. Pick one place or time to start with to become aware of washing your hands more often.
Boosting Exercise – You know how good walking is for you and for your health, but it isn’t always easy to find a 30 minute chunk of time to go for a walk. That’s OK. Break up that time and keep track of all the walking you do by wearing a pedometer. According to Dr. JoAnn Manson, studies show that using a pedometer to measure how many steps you take daily actually helps increase the amount of walking you do up to a mile more, helps in weight loss and helps with reducing blood pressure levels. Aim for 10,000 steps daily as a long term goal, but you can break that down into as small an amount as you need to. Get a baseline measure of how many steps you take now and commit to finding ways to increase that by a few more steps each day. You might walk around your office while talking on the phone, walk in place while reading a report, use the stairs to visit a co-worker on another floor, or use part of your lunch break to go for a walk around the block. Get creative and just become aware of times you could walk rather than ride.
Explore Healthy Options – Have you put off going to the doctor for a checkup because of time or money constraints? Have you ever wanted to try acupuncture, massage, or see a naturopathic or homeopathic doctor? Make this the year that you get serious about having preventative tests done or make an appointment to visit an alternative practitioner. Think about what philosophies you believe in and how you want to care for your body or good results you have heard from friends or families with practices they have used. There is a wide range of more natural type health care alternatives and many of them can help you get away from pharmaceutical drugs and give you the same relief in a more natural way. For example, some types of massage and acupuncture can help you with stress or headache or neck pain instead of reaching for pain relievers. If your main health goal is more oriented towards improving your nutrition, then getting started on a whole foods supplement program such as this algae based program that includes algae, probiotics and digestive enzymes may be something for you to checkout. Just pick one thing at a time that interests you whether it’s an alternative practitioner, energy healing work, aromatherapy, or any other type of alternative care and see what works for you. Or if you lean more towards Western medicine approaches, get a good wellness checkup from your doctor and have those preventative tests you’ve been putting off done.
Become Tobacco Free – This is a big one and if you are a smoker or use tobacco in any form, it really is time to get serious about letting it go. Make this the year that you change your attitude to one of choosing to be tobacco free rather than having to quit smoking. There are lots of ways to help you with this so even if you haven’t been successful before, try again and try something different. You could join a support group, seek out hypnosis, try the patches, visit with your doctor about medications that may help, try acupuncture. At the very least aim for cutting down on the amount of tobacco you use. Put that cigarette out after smoking half, when you get the urge to smoke take some deep breaths first and see if you can put it off, cut back to one less cigarette this week than last week, or just bite the bullet and go cold turkey. No matter how long you have been smoking or how much you smoke now, it’s never too late to make a change to this health detriment.
As you can see there are lots of ways to take small steps that are very doable to make changes in your health and help you make this a truly happy New Year for you and your health. This short list can give you some ideas, but your health goal should be individualized to cover whatever you need to do. Just keep it simple, take small steps and work your way up the health ladder to be more successful at making lasting changes that will pay off for the rest of your life.
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