It’s been almost four weeks since we’ve made resolutions for better health in 2015. But so often our lofty health aspirations set us up for failure; this year, let’s make the resolution to be easier on ourselves and more accepting of our limitations. Instead of a whole life-overhaul—strict juice cleanses, promising to work out every day, consuming nothing but kale and water—consider a simpler approach: step by step, add in a few healthy habits. By starting small, we can eventually effect dramatic change.
- Get an exercise buddy. Accountability is so important. Letting others down doesn’t make us feel good, so committing to an activity with someone else makes us more likely to stick to the plan. Find someone with similar health goals to meet up with for a walk around the park, a class at the gym, or a run around your neighborhood.
- Sub a smoothie for a meal. Breakfast, lunch or dinner, you can get your garden-fresh greens and fresh fruits in a delicious, rich and quick blend of fruits and vegetables to give you all the vitamins and nutrients your body needs. On the go? Fill a Blender Bottle with Vega’s Protein Smoothie or Nutritional Shake powders for a fast, super healthy meal substitute. (Get inspired by a few healthy, green smoothie ideas here.)
- Eat more fruits and vegetables. Studies show that you’ll be more likely to choose a healthy snack if it’s within reach. Set a fruit bowl on your desk or kitchen counter, making sure this cornucopia of good health is in your eyeline as a constant reminder of good fuel for your next snack attack.
- Get up, stand up. You’ve most likely heard about how too much desk-sitting can cause all kinds of health problems. If you’re a deskworker, considering asking your boss about installing a standing desk, which they may happily subsidize in order to prevent injuries and conditions such as carpal tunnel or chronic back issues. If you have a laptop, using boxes or books to elevate it can work in a pinch. Want to switch it up, but don’t want to stand? Rotating between a fit ball and chair may be just the thing to keep your core engaged and gradually strengthen back muscles.
- Fill your feed with healthy food. If you’re like the majority of the world, it’s likely one of the first things you do in the morning is to check your social media and news feeds. Get inspired by cooking magazines such as Cooking Light and EatingWell on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. If you surround yourself with ideas, you’re more likely to keep healthy meal ideas—and their fresh ingredients—in mind when grocery shopping for your next meal. Use your social media feeds to discover new blogs, get out of a cooking rut, or to explore other diets (Check out PaleOMG for paleo suggestions, or fulfill your quest for a Meatless Monday with ideas from vegetarian food blogs such as The Sprouted Kitchen).
- Make a meal for the week. A simple meal of quinoa and vegetables makes a filling, healthy lunch, is easy to prepare and stores well in the fridge. Whip up a batch on Sunday night, then separate into 5 to-go containers. By eliminating one decision from your week, life just got a whole lot easier. Similarly, make a healthy breakfast the most important—and most convenient—meal of the day by preparing a big pot of oatmeal and packing containers of healthy toppings (e.g. berries, flaxseed, granola, chopped nuts and toasted seeds) for each morning.
- Practice gratitude. The power of a gratitude journal can be surprising and life changing. Something as small as writing down what you are appreciative of can help you keep perspective while encouraging positive thinking, optimism and increased energy throughout the day.
- Make sleep a priority. Without enough sleep, productivity and efficiency suffer. Make sure to get 7–8 hours of quality sleep a night by setting a schedule and committing to a bedtime that gives you enough rest. Instead of watching TV or checking your social feeds, take the last hour of your day to prepare for the following day—making a schedule or to-do list, packing a lunch, laying out clothes. Creating a consistent environment is also key to sufficient sleep; for some, white noise helps to drown out distractions. Humidifiers do double-duty – providing both much-needed moisture and soft background noise (we like the aesthetically pleasing Drop Humidifier from Crane).
- Meditate. Intimidated by meditation? Don’t be. While deep meditation takes practice, a good beginner routine is as simple as relaxing your brain for 5–10 minutes a day. Similar to resting during periods of exercise, your brain also needs time to recharge after writing an intensive proposal, participating in a meeting or coordinating a day of intricate scheduling.
- Stay social, stay smart. When you connect with other people, your brain stays alert and focused through the exchange of ideas. Making new contacts and increasing your social circles also helps to keep the brain synapses firing, opening your mind to new opportunities and creativity. Make it a monthly goal to have lunch with someone outside your immediate network—chances are, you’ll end up happier and more well-connected.
Do these steps still feel too big? Start small: try to floss your teeth, drink more water and call your mother.