You can feel this growing sense of excitement bubble up: It’s time for a fresh start, with a healthy new lifestyle to unleash your full potential.
Inspired by all the success stories about former coach potatoes who ended up running a marathon in one year, you go all in. At first, the positive effects of exercising and healthy eating rub off on the rest of your life. You wake up way early and totally refreshed and you have no trouble saying “no, thank you” to that piece of cake at birthday parties. Inspired by all the success stories about former coach potatoes who ended up running a marathon in one year, you go all in.
Until after two or three weeks, life suddenly throws you way off course. After being up all night with your sick child, you’re so desperate for another shot of caffeine, and you miss your yoga class because you’re so swamped with so much work. When you finally get home at night, you feel way too tired to cook up a healthy bowl of chicken with grilled vegetables.
Of course, you’ll jump back in tomorrow, but you can’t shake that awful feeling that you’ve somehow failed. It starts to feel like so much effort to keep up this perfectly healthy lifestyle, and the next time life gets in the way, you automatically fall back into your old routine of crashing in front of the TV with a microwaved meal after a stressful day.
A total and complete transformation of your health surely sounds appealing, but too many drastic lifestyle changes at once usually isn’t the recipe for long term success. Research shows we only have a very limited amount of self willpower each day. So when you want to improve your health, it’s so much easier to focus on creating small, doable habits – those automated, healthy behaviors you do without thinking about it.
Start real small: pick one tiny health habit at a time, until it’s a natural part of your routine.
To help you kickstart a healthier lifestyle without too much stress and effort, here’s a list of 21 simple habits that can make a big difference.
1- Spice up your food with herbs
Adding herbs and spices to your meals is really one of the tastiest ways to boost your health. Not only are these seasonings packed with antioxidants and other nutrients that protect your health, but herbs and spices can also be used to replace salt and sugar in recipes without sacrificing flavor. Spicy food may even help you control your weight, as studies show people eat smaller portions of meals with fat-burning chili peppers than of bland-tasting plain dishes.
2- Go for a walk
Going for a brisk 20-minute walk every day, especially in green environments, has many health benefits. Besides the more obvious effects of physical activity, moving around outdoors provides you with fresh air and exposes your skin to sunlight, which helps your body to produce vitamin D. Make walking outside a regular part of your day: go for a stroll through a nearby park on your lunch break or after dinner.
3- Eat veggies with two of your meals
Eating plenty of vegetables is a key element of a healthy lifestyle. But it’s not always easy getting your five a day, especially if you have to get it all in at dinner time. So why not make a small effort each day to add vegetables to not one but two of your meals? Luckily, consuming more vegetables can be as simple as mixing spinach into your morning eggs, putting slices of tomato and sprouts on your regular sandwich and having a glass of fresh beet-carrot-apple juice.
4- Give yourself a bedtime
Pinpointing when it’s time for you to go to sleep can help you get in sync with your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle, circadian rhythm, and keep a more regular sleep schedule. According to happiness author Gretchen Rubin, giving yourself a bedtime is one of the secrets to more happiness and energy.
5- Pack healthy snacks
Sugary or fatty snacks can give you a strong but temporary boost, they will quickly lead to a blood sugar crash that saps your energy. Keep your energy levels stable throughout the day by carrying healthy snacks with you. Plain yogurt, a piece of fruit, raw unsalted nuts or a boiled egg are all convenient and portable bites Sugary or fatty snacks can give you a strong but temporary boost, they will quickly lead to a blood sugar crash that saps your energy. Keep your energy levels stable throughout the day by carrying healthy snacks with you.
6- Drink a glass of water first thing in the morning
It might be interesting to experiment how starting the day with a simple glass of water makes you feel. Water is still the most recommended, non-caloric way to maintain the balance of fluids in your body.
7- Fit several short bursts of physical activity into your busy day
Get into the habit of gently stretching your muscles as you get out of bed, doing standing push-ups as you’re waiting for the tea to boil or knee-bends when you’re brushing your teeth. At work, take the stairs and try to get up from your chair every hour – even a short walk over to the printer or coffee machine will get your blood flowing again. Come up with unique out-of-the-box and fun ways to fit in some gentle exercises every day!
8- Cut down on sugary drinks
More and more research shows that refined sugar wreaks havoc on our health. One powerful way to limit your intake of this sweet poison is to cut down on soda, (fresh) juice and energy drinks. Unfortunately, diet soda is not a healthy alternative to regular soft drinks. Artificial sweeteners trick your body into thinking you’re consuming real sugar and that confuses your metabolism, resulting into burning fewer calories while craving even more sweets and refined carbs.
9- Eat mindfully
Emotional (over)eating and mindlessly putting food into your mouth are an important cause of unhealthy eating habits and weight gain. If you’re an emotional eater, stop for a second and become aware of why you’re suddenly craving comfort food. Find better ways to feed your emotions
Taking a digital detox is related to many healthy habits on this list, like getting enough sleep, preventing information overload and deepening your connections with others. Just know when it’s time to forget your phone and enjoy life as it’s happening in front of you. Taking a digital detox is related to many healthy habits on this list, like getting enough sleep, preventing information overload and deepening your connections with others.
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