With the New Year approaching, you may already be planning to overhaul your current diet, exercise and life routine. Yet, for most of us, this is a fleeting endeavor.
This time, instead of cutting things out of your life (goodbye sugar and alcohol), how about resolving to add something in the new year?
Here are five things to add to your lifestyle this year:
Aim to increase the amount of vegetables and fruit in your diet.
Most people don’t meet the daily recommended amount of fiber (25 grams for women and 38 grams for men). Fiber has many health benefits, including keeping you regular, lowering your cholesterol and helping you stay fuller longer. Since fiber slows the absorption of sugar, it can also help normalize blood-glucose levels. Additionally, by eating more foods with fiber (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes), you’ll probably find yourself eating less processed foods and added sugars.
Try creating a bedtime routine with the aim of getting 7–9 hours of sleep.
When life gets busy and commitments pile on, sleep is often the first thing to take a backseat. But, skimping on sleep is one of the worst things you can do. Sleep, or lack thereof, affects so many parts of our lifestyles, including energy levels, exercise motivation, concentration and appetite regulation. Research shows a lack of sleep can elevate ghrelin, the hunger hormone, while reducing leptin, the hormone that suppresses appetite. Limit blue lights and screen time before bed and aim to wind down a little earlier.
READ MORE > THE BEST AND WORST FOODS FOR SLEEP
Try to drink at least eight glasses of water, but also figure out what is the right number for you.
The benefits of staying hydrated are endless, considering more than half our body consists of water. Water helps deliver nutrients to our cells, prevents cramping and aids in physical performance. It also has an impact on our mood, energy levels and brain function, as even mild dehydration can affect memory and concentration. Drinking enough water helps with digestion, constipation and weight management. If you hate the taste of plain water, try heating it up, flavoring it with fruit or herbs or try sparkling water.
Aim to get at least two servings (about 8 ounces) of seafood a week to reap the health benefits of these unsaturated fats.
Not only does fat provide flavoring and a satisfying mouthfeel to food, our bodies need it for energy, vitamin absorption and protection of our brain and heart. Unsaturated fats, particularly omega-3 fatty acids in fish, chia seeds, flax seeds, flaxseed oil, canola oil and walnuts can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and improve heart health.
Set a specific goal to workout and do something you enjoy.
We’ve all heard the benefits of exercise, from losing weight — to reducing the risk of chronic disease, to feeling and sleeping better. Don’t set a vague goal to work out more, but be specific and pick something you like and enjoy. If you hate running, it’s probably not realistic to aim to run a half-marathon next year. Common sense tells us that if we’re doing something we don’t enjoy, it’s only a matter of time until we stop.
Set up a walking date a couple times a week, join a cycling or yoga studio, take your stress out in a kickboxing class or sign up for a new strength-training class. With so many class options out there, the opportunities to find something you enjoy are endless.
Take the challenge to add some healthy habits to your routine this year by commenting below!