New Year's resolutions don't have to be intense, hard-to-achieve dreams. Studies have shown that setting small goals is actually more effective for creating lasting change. The American Psychological Association suggests changing only one behavior at a time. It takes time and repetition to develop a new behavior. Instead of trying to focus on implementing a bunch of healthy changes all at once, start by evolving just one behavior in January. Add the next behavior modification in February, and so on. Just the term "New Year resolution" can sabotage people into subconsciously believing that the changes they make at the start of the year are just that - only at the start of the year. Instead, try thinking of your resolutions as "new you evolutions." This will help you commit to the changes you are making as a new and improved lifestyle, rather than a short-term solution to a problem.
Here are 5 small-but-mighty steps to get you started on your health evolution.
1. Redefine your plate.
This means controlling portion sizes and embracing the two-thirds rule. Modern portion sizes are grossly out of touch with what our bodies actually require to live and thrive. You might try using smaller plates or measuring tools to help you control your portion sizes. And, a healthy, balanced plate should be covered with two-thirds of healthy, fresh vegetables. The other third of the plate should contain your protein. Save the fruit for breakfast, snack, or dessert.
2. Treat your body to plenty of H2O.
Your body loves water! In fact, it is made almost entirely of water. And just like any body of water, your body requires a steady flow of water to avoid dehydration. Just how much water you actually need depends upon your weight. Multiply your weight by two-thirds or 67%. The product of that equation is roughly how much water you should take in daily. To help you meet this goal, try drinking a 16-ounce glass of water before every meal. As a bonus, this practice will also help you feel full and help you to control your eating. You might also try sneaking in a couple of glasses in the morning, and another before bed. Keeping track of your intake can be made easier by using a specified water bottle or source container.
3. Add 30 minutes of exercise daily.
If you're not already an active person, start small. This could be as simple as taking a brisk walk through your neighborhood, stretching, or taking the stairs anywhere you go. All of these things will help get your blood flowing throughout the day and will help you easily fit exercise into your schedule. After a couple of weeks, find other activities to give yourself a more challenging workout. Always check with your doctor before beginning a new exercise routine.
4. Get a boost with supplements.
While it's best to get your vitamins from natural sources, it might behoove you to go the extra mile with supplements. Each person is different and will do best with an individualized supplement regimen. Talk to your Naturopathic Doctor about what supplements are the most beneficial for you.
5. Catch some zzzzzs.
Sleep is one of the best things you can possibly do for your health. Sleep helps reduce cortisol and stress levels while allowing your body time to recharge. Whether sitting at a desk all day or actively taking life by the horns, we all need plenty of sleep. The general rule of thumb is 8-10 hours of restful sleep per night.
The Healthiest Food is Home-Cooked Food
A study by researchers at Emory University suggests that Americans eat fewer than 70 percent of their meals at home. Still, the outlook for the health of Americans may be even bleaker when we consider the incredibly low percentage of fresh, whole foods purchased, compared to the disproportionately high sales of frozen, already-cooked meals. To help boost your health this year, strive to cook at home more often. From choosing your ingredients to preparing and cooking for nutrient preservation, and being able to control portion sizing; home cooking allows you to have complete control over what goes into your body. Regularly preparing and eating healthy home-cooked meals will help train your palate to enjoy the healthier fare.
Short on time? Try setting 1-2 days aside each week to do cooking for the week. Cook in large quantities that you can enjoy your home-cooked food as leftovers. On your cooking days, clean, prepare and package raw veggies like carrots, cucumbers, or celery for quick grab-and-go snacks. Remember to store food in glass whenever possible. If you are at a loss on how to start cooking at home, check out classes offered locally. Also, consider checking out any one of hundreds of online cooking websites and videos.
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