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Baby Steps To Getting Healthy In The New year

Written by James Kicinski-McCoy and Mindy White

Photography by Image via Healthy Monkey

With a New Year comes new wants, desires, and goals. One common ambition that many of us share is wanting to slim down, build some muscle, or simply eat and live better for improved heath. With some determination, you can make this upcoming year a clean one. Small changes make a huge impact. Of course, you won’t see a difference in the way you look and feel overnight, but over time you will notice improvement, and your body will adjust slowly, so you don’t feel like you’re missing out on anything, and you’ll be less likely to throw in the towel. Goals are for achieving in steps, and they have much less pressure than resolutions. So this year, don’t make getting healthy a New Year’s resolution, instead make some simple, realistic, and obtainable goals like the ones listed below.

Quit Smoking. If you’re a smoker, you already know it’s bad for you. Make the plunge to quit cold turkey and don’t look back. The slow process makes it harder to quit and you’re more likely to give up halfway through. Go all in, and decide that this is the year you finally quit.

Drink More H20. Instead of reaching for a soda or juice, choose water. Those other drinks are packed full of ingredients that contribute to weight gain, acid erosion, and diabetes. Diet sodas contain sugar-free sweeteners that carry potential health risks. If you’re an avid soda drinker, try to ween yourself off by drinking carbonated water instead. These waters have the same essence of a soda without all the sugar and calories.

Have An Open Mind. A big part of getting in shape is mentally preparing. If you dread the gym, you’ll never go. If you think you’ll be stuck eating salads for a year, you’ll never commit. Go to the grocery store specifically with the mind set to try some new foods. Grab vegetables and fruits that you don’t normally get. Shop for fish and lean meats instead of processed items. Look for vegetarian protein in place of regular meats. Stay optimistic while trying these new foods and you might find some new favorites!

Eat Cleaner. You don’t have to be a nutritionist or a millionaire to eat right. Become aware of labels and learn what ingredients and chemicals to avoid. Cut out processed sugars and flours, and look for whole grain or gluten-free options. Replace unhealthy fats with healthy ones found naturally in coconut oil, avocados, nuts, and more. Keep your house stocked with fresh vegetables and fruits (or frozen) for a quick, healthy option. Cut back on eating out and fast food, since it’s pretty tough to eat well at a restaurant not knowing what goes into your dish.

Say “No” To Sugar. It’s one of the leading causes of weight gain and diabetes. Remember that fruit contains lots of sugar, too, and even though it’s natural, it can add up, so keep portions low. Look for low-sugar or naturally sugar-free options when a sweet tooth strikes. Don’t be too hard on yourself, either. If you eat well for a week, treat yourself! Just don’t go overboard.

Exercise. Make it your goal to become more active. Check out Couch To 5k. It’s an app that literally takes you from couch potato to running 5 miles. Sound impossible? It’s not. Give it a try and see for yourself! Or, if running is not your thing, start with simple daily exercise. Walk a lap or two around the neighborhood during free time or push your kid’s stroller up a challenging hill. Take the stairs instead of the elevator when it’s an option. Join a gym or workout group if that’s an encouraging atmosphere for you. If you’ve got achey joints or prefer a slower pace, try yoga or pilates. And take your time! Remember that no matter how slow you go, you’re still working harder than you were before and towards your goal.

Get App’d. With the technology we have today, keeping up with your routine and staying accountable is easier than ever. Look for apps that can track your calories and meals like Lose It! that will remind you when to hit the gym and log your progress. You could also invest in a fitness watch like FitBit or Jawbone UP, to keep your focused and tracking your miles.

Journal. If you don’t have a workout buddy, the next best thing is a journal. Here, you can keep a log of what you eat daily, how much you worked out, and how you feel. It’s amazing to go back after a few weeks and realize how far you’ve come. In a few months, “out of breath and cranky” will turn into “refreshed and entergetic.” A journal can be inspiring and help you stay committed.

Get Natural. Toss out any cleaning products that contain harmful chemicals and ingredients. Using these items in your house can effect your health overtime and are dangerous for pets and children. Opt for natural cleaners like Honest Company and Method, or make your own in DIY tutorials. You’ll have a cleaner, healthier house to relax in, knowing that it’s not soaked in dangerous chemicals.

Sleep More. Getting all of your Z’s is a very important part of staying healthy. You may be surprised just how important resting your body is. An earlier bedtime will not only make you feel better and help with under-eye circles, sleep also helps with memory, inflammation, is a mood booster, sparks creativity, improves performance, understanding, and attention span. Adequate sleep will also help reduce stress, depression, and can help you live longer, lead to a better sex life, and can help with weigh control—all great things that’ll make you want to hit that snooze button!

Find “Me” Time. In the craziness of everyday life, it’s hard to find some alone time. Silence is something a lot of us rarely experience. Set out to make sure that you take a break in your day, everyday. Even if it’s only 5 minutes. Set a timer on your phone to remind you, if you must. During this time you could read, write, do some yoga stretches, or simply close your eyes and do nothing. But do it. Stress and worries can really take away years from your life and simply setting time out to relax can help keep those years in place. So, breathe—say it with us, “Ahhh.” Here’s another great post on Tips To Finding Me Time Throughout The Day.

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