Kick off your healthy new year with these 5 “back-to-the-basics” lifestyle habits you’ll actually want to keep!
EA’s note: Thanks so much to my intern, Carly, for putting this post on healthy new year habits together. If you’ve been following The Spicy RD Blog for awhile, you know that I’m a huge fan of creating small, sustainable healthy habits that lead to long term results. Take it away Carly!
“New Year, new me” we hear this phrase getting every January. The New Year is a great time for analyzing your lifestyle and creating new goals. But, what if instead of trying to change yourself completely, why not live a healthier lifestyle through small daily habits?
Instead of making (and breaking!) unrealistic resolutions, let’s all make this year different and learn how to live healthier, treat our bodies better, respect our mental health, and create realistic resolutions that will better ourselves. Who’s with me?!!!
First Step: Create Realistic Goals…
Goal setting is the first part of creating your healthy new year habits. The most important part of setting a goal is making sure it is attainable. Before you jump in and say you want to lose ____ pounds, you must assess yourself. Self-assessment allows you to learn about yourself and reflect on the goals you wish to achieve. When self-assessing you should:
- Think about how much time and energy you can give towards achieving your goals.
- Consider finances, equipment, etc.
- Keep the focus on what YOU can achieve. Kick comparison to the curb!
- Consider your current level of motivation. This is key!
Tips for successful goal setting
- Make them SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound)
- Break down your big goals into smaller ones.
- Create a plan.
- Write your goals down.
- Get motivated. Stay motivated.
Ready to get started? Begin with these 5 back-to-the-basics” habits for a happy, healthy new year!
No. 1 | Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate!!!
We all know that water is important for good health, but do you know WHY water is good for you? Water has numerous health benefits including:
- Aids in digestion.
- Normalizes blood pressure.
- Stabilizes your heartbeat.
- Protects joints, organs, and tissues.
- Regulates body temperature.
- Maintains a healthy electrolyte balance.
With all these health benefits, drinking more water is a key back-to-the-basics healthy new year habit. While there is no medical consensus about how much water to consume daily, here’s a good starting point: (It this seems high, please note that this includes water from food and other beverages too!)
Try these tips for drinking more water
- Keep a reusable water bottle with you
- Set drinking reminders (EA sets her watch to move every 45 minutes AND drink water at the same time.)
- Replace other drinks with water
- Sip throughout the day
For more great tips on boosting your hydration, be sure to check out this post: Simple Tips for Healthy Hydration + a DIY Sparkling Water Bar
No. 2 | Eat More Veggies & Fruit for a Healthy New Year
You knew this one was coming, right? Ha! And, with good reason. While we tell ourselves to eat more fruits and vegetables, many of us not only fail to eat more, but we also don’t get enough variety in our diets.
Fruits and veggies are jam packed with key nutrients that support overall health. In addition, adding a greater variety of plant based foods is good for your gut microbiome too! Additional health benefits include:
- Lowers blood pressure.
- Reduces the risk of heart disease.
- Helps lower the risk of digestive problems.
- Lowers the risk of certain types of cancer.
Making sure you get enough fruits and vegetables daily can be hard so here are some tips to increase your consumption of fruits and veggies:
- Keep fruit where you can see it (i.e. in a pretty bowl on the counter)
- Go to the produce aisle and choose a new veggie to try.
- Make smoothies & juices loaded with vegetables and a little fruit (like this yummy Tropical Green Flaxseed Smoothie)
- Clean and cut veggies as soon as you get home. No excuses not to eat them later!
- Add something green to every meal.
For more delicious ways to eat fruits and vegetables be sure to check out this post at The Spicy RD: 25 Delicious Ways to Eat More Fruits & vegetables + Easy Tips for Eating More Every Day
No. 3 | Add 10+ More Minutes of Daily Movement or Exercise
Regular exercise and daily movement are essential for a healthy new year & lifestyle. Exercise not only makes our bodies stronger and decreases the risk of several diseases, but it’s mood boosting as well! . Regular exercise may reduce the risk of:
- Type 2 Diabetes.
- High cholesterol.
- Certain types of cancer, including breast cancer and prostate cancer.
Recommended levels for weekly exercise to promote overall health are 150 minutes of moderate exercise (i.e. brisk walking) or 75 minutes of vigorous activity (i.e. jogging).
That being said, it’s really important to start where you’re at, and aim to add at least 10 minutes of additional exercise each day to start. As well as improving psychological well-being, 10 minutes is only a short period of time to take out of your day to promote well-being.
Here are some tips to sneak in 10 minutes of exercise:
- Lace up your sneakers and do a lunch break workout or walk.
- Make excuses to walk more. Park away from stores, go grocery shopping, vacuum your house!
- Take children, pets, significant others with you.
- Listen to podcast while you walk (these are EA’s favorites).
- Multitask on a cardio machine & catch up on your favorite Netflix show.
- Get in a quick desk workout.
Keep in mind that exercise doesn’t need to be a 5-mile run or an intense lift session. You should do the type of exercise that you look forward to-not dread. Exercise might be:
- Walking the dog
- Playing tennis with friends
- Fill in the blank _______
For more fun exercise ideas, be sure to check out this post: This Home Exercise Program Will Keep You Happy, Healthy, & Fit.
No.4 | Better Sleep = Better Health!
Sleep is just as important as eating better and exercising regularly for a healthy new year. Making sure you get enough sleep is vital for several reasons, including:
- Helps maintain a healthy metabolism.
- Improves concentration and productivity.
- Decreasing the risk of heart disease.
- Promotes healthy blood levels.
- Decreases your risk of depression.
- Boosts your immune system.
There are SO many reasons we don’t get enough sleep. Some of us are busy and must work late or wake up early. Insomnia, sleep disruptions (kids & pets!), anxiety , and others.
Healthy adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night and people over 65 should aim to get 7 to 8 hours per night.
This year let’s try to wind down 30 minutes sooner at night in order to focus on ourselves and set ourselves up for a good night’s sleep. Let’s try to not stare at our phone or technology before bed. Instead try meditating, journaling, or reading a good book.
There are also sleep aids and supplements that can help us get more zzzzz’s. (Speak with your doctor or health care provider before taking sleep supplements).
Melatonin production naturally occurs at night, but may be suppressed by artificial light exposure in the evening. Melatonin supplements may help make falling asleep easier, and can lead to improved quality of sleep. Dosages range from 3-10 mg, however, much smaller amounts may be beneficial with less chance of side effects.
For lots more information on natural sleep techniques be sure to check out EA’s post: The Ultimate Guide to Natural Sleep Tips for Better Health.
No. 5 | Build a Positive Relationship with YOURSELF
2020 was a rough year for most of us so let’s promote our mental well-being in the new year so we can conquer anything that gets thrown at us. Let’s all schedule one thing that will better ourselves and our mental being at least once a week.
It is important to reward ourselves with things to make us feel better. It will not only improve ourselves but it will better our relationships as well. Self-care is being kind to yourself which is one of the best things that you can do for a healthy new year.
Happiness is key, so schedule activities, exercise, beauty appointments, and me time for yourself at least once a week. If you use a calendar make sure to write it down and or set reminders on your phone. Some examples of weekly self bettering involves
- Exercise classes (yoga, pilates, spin)
- Hike/ Walk
- Try a new recipe or create your own
- Bath and face masks
- Enjoy a cup of tea with a book
- ????????????????????????? (Add your own!)
The list is endless for self care activities. Everyone enjoys different things so be sure to to do whatever makes YOU happy!
This is YOUR Year for a Healthy New Year!
Let’s all try to move past the hardships of 2020 and look forward to a healthy new year! Remember, you are not alone. Reach out to family and friends to work together on new healthy habits in order to live a healthier lifestyle.
Let’s Chat! What healthy new year habits are you working on? Which ones do you find most challenging to stick with? Want more motivation and community support? JBe sure to join my Healthy Habits for a Happy Life Group on Facebook!
Carly Waldman is a graduate student at West Virginia University getting her Masters in Nutrition & Food Science. Carly is passionate about treating food as medicine. She strives to assist individuals to find the right food to boost their mood. She plans on becoming a Registered Dietitian who will counsel patients to reach their health goals and use holistic medicine to treat mental health disorders.