Top 10 Tips for Starting (and Keeping) A Healthy Year
In order to make new habits and keep them, you need to give yourself about three weeks to get used to them. So, by the end of January, you can feel almost automatic about some new, healthy habits. Listed below are ten tips to make your body and mind feel better in 2009.
1. Drink fresh water and plenty of it.
Keep a water bottle that is easy to drink out of and is leak proof in your daily bag or purse. Rinse out the lid once a day and wash it with hot, soapy water a few times a week to keep it clean. Brita pitchers and Pur filters on your faucet make this even easier, and much cheaper than buying bottled water every day.
2. Take deep breaths several times during the day.
When you take a really deep breath and actually feel your lungs stretch inside your ribs, the pressure creates a sensation on your vagus nerve that sends a signal to your brain to tell your body to relax. So, it is great for stress relief. Breathing deeply will also help to make your posture more erect as you inflate your ribs, so it acts as a good reminder to return to neutral alignment which is better for your neck, prevents headaches, and is a great, gentle abdominal workout.
3. Stretch two times a day.
This does not have to be an elaborate stretching plan; it simply should relieve pain and tightness in certain areas and stretch out your entire frame to enable you to walk with a full stride and maintain your balance. Tight muscles do not respond as quickly, and you never know when a wet spot might be on the floor and cause you to slip. If you are more flexible, you will be able to regain your balance and get out of that slip without pulling a muscle.
Suggestions: lift your arms from the sides of your legs overhead and return (like a snow angel), spine roll (tuck your chin to your chest with your knees softly bent and lower your head towards the floor), calf stretch (hold on to anything stable and bend your knees with your heels on the ground), and a chest stretch (put your hands on your waist and squeeze your glutes together while looking up to the ceiling and leaning back slightly).
4. Sweat once a day.
If you think you are too busy to fit a workout in, then just "do your sweat" right before you get in the shower. March in place, do jumping jacks, lay on your bath mat and do crunches and sit-ups and reverse sit-ups alternating the three to create more heat, then stand up and do some squats. Before five minutes is up, you'll have created a sweat, energized yourself, and probably inspired yourself to do another workout later.
5. Listen to your dentist and brush and floss twice a day.
If you ignore your teeth, they'll go away. Brush well, floss well, and gulp down a few swigs of water afterward while you're at it. If you can't brush, chew a piece of sugarfree gum for a few minutes a drink some water to wash away excess sugars. Healthy teeth look good, feel good, and make you feel better about yourself which helps your self-image which can affect everything you do.
6. Get enough sleep. Experts recommend 7-8 hours.
You may need 9-10 if you are an athlete or a student because you'll need more recovery time and will need to be sharp at the start of your day. If you are a new parent, you probably won't be able to get all seven to eight hours in a row, so grab a couple of twenty minute naps to allow your muscles and brain to relax. It will help your moods too, and everyone around will appreciate that!
7. Vary your meals and snacks.
Eat a wide variety of foods to ensure that you are providing your body with all of the nutrients that it needs. Think of getting as many colors in as possible during your meals (different vitamins are found in different colors), and shop in the perimeter of the grocery store where all of the fresh foods are. The less foods have been processed, the more nutrients they have to deliver to your body.
8. Consume alcohol sparingly if you drink.
A couple of drinks a couple of nights a week is acceptable and a part of social events. However, if you attend happy hour with co-workers every day and party on weekends and drink excessively, you are harming your liver, your waistline, and your productivity the next day. Sip slower, order a club soda with lime between cocktails, and order drinks that you can't gulp (i.e. Guiness instead of a cosmopolitan).
9. Be or become a non-smoker.
The evidence of the damage smoking causes is many pages long and you have heard it before, so love your body and do what is best for it: throw your cigarettes or cigars out and replace them with a better habit.
10. Do one satisfying thing every day.
That's not hard to remember. Read for a few minutes, soak in a bath, call a friend you haven't talked to in a month, or whatever relieves stress and makes you feel like you've done something good and productive. It will go a long way in the long run to keep you well-balanced.