If you’ve ever made a litany of health goals only to let them fall by the wayside, you’re not alone. According to The Joint, around 40% of individuals only meet half of their goals, and one of the main reasons why is that they feel overwhelmed. It’s normal to be excited and to create a laundry list of things you want to accomplish.
However, instead of pledging to suddenly and simultaneously stop drinking, run a marathon, read a book every week, cut all carbs and sugar from your diet and learn Spanish, make small changes. Add the word “gradual” to your vocabulary, and set yourself up for success.
Let’s look at a few simple adjustments you can make towards a healthier new year with these ideas brought to you by Ok Healthy Living.
1. Eat More Plants
You don’t have to adopt a fully vegetarian or — gasp! — vegan diet to eat better, get slimmer and live longer. Per Eating Well, a diet that includes an array of colorful veggies has been shown to:
- Improve brain function
- Lower your risk of metabolic ailments such as diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure
- Help you maintain a positive mindset
- Improve gut health
If incorporating more fruits and vegetables into your diet has always been a struggle, start small. Add one new food each week. You may also make produce shopping an event by visiting the farmer’s market. There, you can find the freshest fruits and vegetables around, all while supporting local businesses and soaking up some Vitamin D.
2. Hide the Junk Food
Embrace the philosophy “out of sight, out of mind” when it comes to snacks and treats. Or, to put it another way, hide the Goldfish crackers. If you keep them in a big glass storage container on top of the fridge, you’re going to reach for them before you open said fridge to grab a healthy snack. That’s if you don’t reach for them every time you enter the kitchen out of habit.
Better still, banish junk food from your home altogether. Stock your pantry with minimally processed foods from your local health food store. As with the plants, it doesn’t have to be done all at once, either. Start by phasing out one source of empty calories and go from there.
3. Elevate Your Heart Rate
Research shows that regularly raising your heart rate does wonders for your longevity. It strengthens your heart and teaches your body how to move blood and oxygen more efficiently. It can prevent a variety of chronic conditions and lower your risk of cardiovascular issues. Because it improves circulation, it can boost your powers of attention and focus, too.
Experts recommend getting at least 30 minutes of heart-healthy activity five days per week. This can be any activity that raises your heart rate and keeps it there, from yoga to basketball.
4. Prioritize Your Career Advancement
Whether the goal is to enhance your career or advance your calling, with a healthy work-life balance always in mind, put your career happiness at the forefront. By achieving a goal you’ve been putting off for a while like wrapping up that elusive college-level degree, you can boost your mental health. Taking college-level courses doesn’t have to be difficult or costly, especially if you choose to take online classes. Completing classes and tests online to get your MBA, for example, allows you to continue with your life and work schedule. Once attained, your degree will add to your credibility and your sense of accomplishment.
5. Declutter Your Space
A crazy thing happens when you rid your environment of negativity. This can come in many forms, like clutter, stale air, and stale attitudes. By decluttering all of these, your mental clutter, i.e., anxiety and stress, decrease as well.
OK, so it’s not that crazy. It’s actually rooted in science. The brain thrives on structure. If your house or apartment is overrun with stuff, your brain freaks out because it wants to manage it all and can’t. This decreases your ability to focus and throws your cortisol levels out of whack. When cortisol is elevated, it can lead to a host of unsavory changes to your physical health such as higher blood pressure, increased blood sugar and more fats in the bloodstream.
To avoid these unhealthy effects, turn your home into a sanctuary. Get rid of items you don’t use, such as clothes you haven’t worn in the past year or books you’ll likely never read again. Open the windows to let in some fresh air, even if it’s only for 20 minutes at a time in the middle of winter. Consider also adding an oil diffuser to imbue your home with positive and calming scents like lavender.
Small habits create big changes. Kickstart your goals right by embracing healthy practices that will turn into rituals. In time, you’ll enjoy a stronger, healthier, happier you.
In order to make decisions about your health it is important to know where you can find the most up-to-date and reliable information, which is where the Ok Healthy Living blog can help.