Why wait until January 1st to start getting healthier when you can do a few things right now? Here are 31 healthy resolutions to stick to before the New Year begins. Each of them is easy to do. Get going right now.
1) Sleep 8 hours a night
Your body, in part, is a reflection of how you sleep. Healthy sleepers, that is people who sleep eight hours (give or take an hour), are leaner, more alert and generally happier. Sleep affects our body's ability to repair and get stronger.
2) Drink a shot of apple cider vinegar each day
Apple cider vinegar helps control appetite, regulates blood sugar levels and buffer the acid in the body that creates inflammation. Try a shot a day for a healthier, happier body.
3) Take 10 to 20 deep breaths in and out
Breathing deeply is the cheapest easiest stress-buster anyone can do anywhere. Focus on nothing but your breath. Not only will you be in the moment, but you'll also relax your body from head to toe.
4) Cut out soda, juice, sugar-sweetened drinks, diet soda
Try this for the next 31 days. If you're hooked on sugar-loaded beverages or diet sodas, you'll reap the rewards by giving your body a rest for a month - and hopefully longer. Diet sodas and sugar-sweetened drinks are both acidic, which can trigger inflammation in the body. If you're trying to lose weight with inflammation, you're swimming upstream. Make things easy on your body and cut them out.
5) Stop eating at 6pm
If you're usually in bed between 9 and 10pm (or even a little later) stop eating at 6pm. Unless you have a metabolic concern, like diabetes, your body will benefit from the break between dinner and breakfast the next morning. Lots of food left in your stomach will likely get stored as fat.
6) Eat veggies for breakfast
Why not? Throw some spinach in with your eggs, or have some leftover roasted vegetables from the night before. There is no law that says vegetables can't be a part of each an every breakfast.
7) Do 3 planks and hold them as long as possible
Whether you exercise regularly everyday or not, do 3 planks every day for one month, and hold them as long as you can. You'll build muscle in your abdominal region, but also your shoulders, arms and legs. Set a record! Add 10 seconds on to each set of planks. Build your time as you build strength.
8) Increase your omega 3 fatty acids (fish oil, flax seed oil)
Increasing expeller-pressed omega-3 fatty acids will do nothing but give your body a helping hand. Some recent studies have linked omega-3s to cancer. Omega-3s are fragile, meaning they can oxidize quickly and create free radicals in our bodies. If you're supplementing with an expeller-pressed fish oil or flax seed oil, there is nothing to worry about. We NEED omega-3s. They're essential fatty acids. We can't live without them and right now, most of us don't get nearly enough.
9) Drink lots of water
Make a commitment to drink plenty of water each and every day. Water helps to regulate metabolism, and keeps us looking younger longer. Drink up. Start in the morning with 8 to 12 ounces. Just before bed, drink another 8 to 12 ounces. Of course, drink throughout the day.
10) Stand up and walk around every 15 minutes
Standing up and walking around from any seated position will get blood flowing and joints moving. We simply don't move enough. Set a timer on your watch to go off every 15 minutes or so as a reminder to get up and move around. You don't have to move much, but you do need to move. Why not take big drink of water every time you get up, combining tip #9 with #10?
11) Stay away from people who bring you down
Limit exposure to people who thrive on gloom and doom as much as possible. Being around people who always look at the glass as half empty not only drains our energy, but can skew the way we view the world.
12) Surround yourself with people who make you happy
One way to counter the effect negative people have on your life is to surround yourself with positive people who make you happy and lift you up. Happy people are healthier. Happy, healthy energy does rub off.
13) Drink peppermint, chamomile or lemon balm tea after dinner
Eating is one thing, digestion is another. After you eat, sip a cup of peppermint, chamomile or lemon balm tea - all of which help with digestion. Each of these teas also happens to be very relaxing.
14) Avoid words like “I can’t” “I don’t like” and “This sucks”
Sometimes the words we say act like a self-fulfilling prophecy. When we make limiting statements like "I can't," they become internalized. Avoid these words and replace them with more positive phrases like, "I can" and "I will."
15) Do at least 3 high intensity intervals a day
Absolutely do this as much as possible for the next month. High intensity intervals elevate human growth hormone, burn fat like crazy and increase lean muscle mass. Here's a sample interval running workout and a sample body weight only workout.
16) Avoid caffeine after 10am
If you have to have caffeine, eliminate it after 10am. Caffeine from coffee, tea or soda can elevate cortisol levels, which can throw off insulin and adrenal levels - all of which are stress hormones. For the next month, go easy on your body by reducing the things that stress it out - caffeine being one of them.
17) Curb holiday treats indulgences to once a week
It's the holidays, which means it's high season for candy, cookies, pastries...not to mention savory treats. Just because it's December doesn't mean you have to eat treats every day. Count on a cookie weighing in between 100 to 200 sugar-loaded calories. Eat one a day and you'll have a lot of work to do to get back to where you were before the month started. Instead, save those indulgences to once a week. Enjoy the foods of the season - just not as often.
18) Take a chance and try something you’ve never done before
Take a trapeze class, try a cooking class, check out a new museum. Whether for your physical or mental health, trying new things broadens your horizons and allows new experiences to be a part of your life. Now is a great time to try that one thing you've been meaning to do! At the very least, you'll check it off your bucket list.
19) Workout SMARTER, not LONGER
If you workout for hours a day in an effort to lose weight, you're probably doing something wrong. Make each and every workout count. Fill them with vigor and lots of different movements. If you're on the right track, working out most (not all) days of the week for 45 to 60 minutes should be all you need.
20) Don’t feel guilty about doing something nice for yourself
Put yourself first and don't feel bad about it. Be responsible, take care of that which needs to get done and don't forget that you're part of that list. Whether it's taking five extra minutes in the bath, a half hour to workout or a few extra minutes to make something for dinner that you really like, it's important.
21) Remind yourself daily that NOTHING tastes as good as healthy feels
Why do you want that extra piece of pie? How will it help you reach your goals? If you can't really answer why you want to eat something and if you know it won't help you reach your goals - reconsider. Self-sabotage is very real and I've watched a lot of people do it. The moment they take one step forward with their diet, they take two steps back. If you've made progress, keep flow going and don't make exceptions. Your health is too important.
22) Eat when you’re hungry and not when you’re bored
The next time you catch yourself walking back to the refrigerator for no go reason at all, stop! A handful of mixed nuts here or a bowlful of chips there can add up quickly. Eat when you feel hungry. It's that simple.
23) Move your body in all directions, not just in a straight line
Most of us move in a straight line. Rarely do we incorporate lateral movements. Our joints were meant to move in all sorts of directions. If you don't do it already, take advantage or yoga, pilates or some other form of training that allows for better movement. The muscles around those joints will get stronger and your mobility will increase.
24) Increase healthy fats, like avocado, butter, eggs, nuts, seeds, coconuts and olive oil
Even though many of us are eating more fat, the quality of fat is most important. Avocado, butter, eggs, nuts, seeds, coconuts and olive oil are all examples of healthy fats. Healthy fats help us absorb nutrients and keep us feeling fuller longer. They also help keep our skin supple. Unfortunately, the same does not hold true for less-than-healthy fats like corn, canola and soybean oils. Avoid these when possible.
25) Read the ingredients on the label
Reading ingredients is the first and most important step to getting your arms around your diet. Ingredients are listed in order from the most to least abundant. If the first few ingredients on the food you're about to eat contains corn syrup or enriched flour, it's probably not good for you. Take a moment to read the labels. Your body is worth it.
26) Call an old friend to say hello
Close the computer or turn off the i-Pad and pick up your phone. Old fashioned communication is quickly going by the wayside. Call a friend you haven't heard from in a while just to say hi. Exchange a story or share a laugh. It may sound corny, but it just might make your day.
27) Give someone a compliment today
Make yourself feel better by making someone else feel good. You don't to know someone to tell them you like their shoes or their shirt or that their child is cute. A few small words and you're on your way.
28) Let go of mistakes and learn from them; they happen to us all
Don't beat yourself up because you messed up. If I fell prey to guilt for screw ups, I'd be permanently black and blue. The most important thing you can do is acknowledge your mistake. That's right - own it. After that, move on.
29) Eat slowly and in a relaxed environment
Rushed meals don't digest well - and that's a fact. Relax and give your body a chance to breakdown food. You'll probably eat less. You'll also probably suffer from less indigestion. This sounds simple, but it's so crucial to our health. Take time to chew, taste and enjoy.
30) Do not compare your life to someone else’s highlight reel
Social media is here to stay, but let's face it - for the most part we all want people to see the best of the best on our timeline. If you have a Facebook or some other social media account, spend quality time, say hi to friends and check things out. But if that quality time starts wearing you out and you find yourself feeling worse, not better, take a break.
31) Make a daily list of what you want to accomplish, then do it.
Accomplishments are easier to achieve when they're written out in front of you. Whether it's a daily task list or a yearly bucket list, make a list of what you want to do and then do it.
Hopefully these give you a good start to the last month of the year.