Home » 30 Days and 30 Ways to Jumpstart a Happy and Healthy New Year

30 Days and 30 Ways to Jumpstart a Happy and Healthy New Year

  • by

A new year can bring about new beginnings and a desire for change, which isn’t always easy.  If creating a healthy lifestyle is on your radar this year, you don’t have to create lofty goals or make resolutions that don’t stick.  Instead aim to make health and wellness a priority using the following tips: 

  1. Make time to get outside daily, natural light from outdoors can help alleviate stress, improve sleep and boost vitamin D levels, which in turn helps prevent bone loss and reduce the risk of heart disease.
  2. Move more, sit less. Pace or walk around your house or office while talking on the phone Stand during meetings or while at your desk and you’ll burn more calories.
  3. Schedule exercise as an appointment on your calendar that you keep with yourself. Plan what workout you will do and for how long.
  4. Add strength training to your workouts. Resistance training improves muscular strength, increases bone density, improves balance and helps with weight management
  5. Aim for 30 minutes of activity daily. If you can’t do it all at once, break it up into 10 minute increments throughout the day. Every little bit counts and it can instantly boost your mood.
  6. Drink water. Water flushes out toxins, and can help with satiety. Add a splash of fresh fruit to water for flavor
  7. Get adequate vitamin D. Vitamin D, also known as the sunshine vitamin, plays a critical role in helping the body absorb calcium and phosphorus, supports normal immune function and plays an important role in the growth and development of bones and teeth.  It can be difficult in the northeast to get enough of this vitamin from sunshine.  Good sources of vitamin D include salmon, egg yolk, shrimp, fortified milk and yogurt.  Adults may want to consider supplementing the diet with 600 IU per day. 
  8. Eat real food. Fruit, vegetables, whole grains, dairy products and lean protein provide all the nutrients your body needs to be healthy.  In addition real food doesn’t contain sodium, added sugar and it’s low fat
  9. Aim to add one fruit or vegetable to every meal. Try berries in oatmeal or try them in a garden salad.  Add spinach and mushrooms to eggs.
  10. Plan your meals. Plan out your meals in advance so you know what’s for dinner and you can be sure you have everything you need to make a healthy meal. You’ll be less likely to call for take-out
  11. Try a plant based meal once a week. Plant based meals tend to be lower in saturated fat, higher in fiber and other vitamins in minerals. In addition, a plant based diet can help reduce the risk of heart disease, lower inflammation, reduce cholesterol and decrease the risk of diabetes.                                                                          
  12. Keep your kitchen filled with healthy snacks to help resist temptation; after all, we’re only as strong as our environment.  Stock up on fruit, vegetables, whole grain crackers, hardboiled eggs, string cheese and popcorn.
  13. Eat slowly, it takes the stomach 20 minutes to signal your brain that you’ve had enough to eat. Try eating with your non-dominant hand, use chopsticks or put your fork down between bites.
  14. Cook more at home. Try some new recipes or make your old favorites. Not only will this save money, but preparing your own meals allows you to control what goes into them.  Think about meals that feature lean protein, vegetables and whole grains. 
  15. Reduce added sugar. Sugar adds empty calories to our diets and contributes to weight gain, which in turn can lead to cardiovascular disease and diabetes. The daily recommendation for added sugar is 6 teaspoons for women and 9 teaspoons for men, but Americans average 20 teaspoons per day! Most packages list sugar in grams, 4 grams equals 1 teaspoon.  Retrain your taste buds to prefer foods less sweet.  Try reducing your intake by half to start. 
  16. Budget your calories, like you do your money. Distribute your calories evenly throughout the day to balance blood sugar, maintain your energy level and stave off hunger.
  17. Eat the colors of the rainbow. Load up on colorful fruits and veggies, they’re full of vitamins, minerals and fiber. Aim to get 5 servings of the bright stuff; think red and orange peppers, blueberries, yellow summer squash and dark green leafy veggies.
  18. Practice Mindful eating. Eating mindfully can help you distinguish the difference between emotional hunger and physical hunger, improve digestion, and change unhealthy eating patterns. Take time to enjoy your meals. Savor the taste, color, smell texture and flavor of your food without distractions.  Becoming more attuned to your hunger and satiety cues can also help with weight loss.
  19. Prioritize sleep. Sleep helps to boost memory, reduce cardiovascular disease, regenerate the body and stabilize energy. In addition sleep helps to regulate hunger and satiety hormones. Adults should aim for 7 hours a night.
  20. Build “Me time” into your schedule. Taking time to do something for yourself that you enjoy helps you recharge, gives you something to look forward to and provides balance to life. Practicing good self-care is critical to emotional health and wellbeing.
  21. Laugh More. Studies show laughter has positive effects on health. A deep belly laugh can help reduce stress, strengthen the immune system and lower blood pressure.
  22. Track progress. Track your exercise, the amount of water you drink or the number of steps you log daily. Logging these things can help to create motivation and keep you on track.  Set a reminder on your phone or computer to do it every day
  23. Breathe deeply. Diaphragmatic breathing, where you slow down the breath and create a full exchange of oxygen can help reduce stress levels, lower or stabilize blood pressure, and slow the heartbeat. Next time you’re stressed or feeling overwhelmed, tune into your breath and try inhaling for a count of five and exhaling for a count of five for several breath cycles to create a natural relaxation response. 
  24. Adopt a new hobby. Novelty makes us happy. New experiences and information stimulate the memory center of the brain and creates a rush of the feel-good chemical, dopamine.  Try an adult paint by number kits, Sudoku, or learn a new language
  25. Try a new activity. Walk in a different neighborhood, stream a new exercise class, or try a new cardio machine at the gym. You’ll generate more novelty in your life, and increase your happiness from the burst of dopamine novel experiences create.
  26. Cut screen time. The average adult spend 3 plus hours a day on social media. Reducing the amount of time glued to a screen will help to improve sleep, reduce eye strain, eliminate headaches, reduce the likelihood of obesity and improve and strengthen personal relationships.  In addition, there will be more time to pursue other activities like exercise.
  27. Make your goals known. Let your friends and family know your intentions which can help keep you accountable and more likely to stick to your plan. This can increase your chances for success.  You may even find someone to buddy up with you.
  28. Reward yourself, but not with food, when you reach a short term goal. Pick up a new work out top, buy a new water bottle or read the latest best seller you’ve had your eye on. These small rewards can help increase motivation.
  29. Resist quick weight loss diets. Rapid weight loss plans usually start with unreasonable expectations, decreased calorie intake and lead to feelings of deprivation. What’s more, they’re not sustainable.  In addition severe calorie restriction slows the metabolism making it difficult to keep the weight off.   
  30. Be kind and gentle with yourself. Stay judgement free and remind yourself you’re doing the best you can. Don’t hold yourself to perfection because there is no such thing, and don’t compare yourself with others.  You are enough!   

Content submitted by Janyce Gately MS, RD, LDN, CHC