Ah, the first day of a new year! A clean slate; a chance to start anew. The many possibilities these 365 days entail encourage and empower us to take on new challenges, change bad habits, and generally improve ourselves. That’s why many New Year’s resolutions include a thing or two about being healthy.
Changing unhealthy habits is easier said than done. And when you’re coming from the season of feasting, the task could be doubly challenging. But here’s the thing: drastically shifting to a healthier lifestyle is difficult, but starting with simple tasks is easier.
All it takes is one baby step. Then follow it through.
Stock up on healthy food items
In her article on the website Eating Well, registered dietician Kerri-Ann Jennings said: “the first step in eating right is getting prepared.” Since we most likely eat the first thing we see on the counter or in the fridge when we’re hungry, it’s best to have healthy food ready to be eaten or cooked.
Jennings suggested stocking up the pantry with healthy cooking essentials and toss the “super unhealthy stuff.” Put fruits on the kitchen counter, stock up the fridge with whole foods and vegetables, and store healthy snacks at eye level in the pantry.
Store quick bites like almonds, dried berries, and dark chocolates in your drawer at work.
Make a meal plan
“A goal without a plan is just a wish,” thus if you want to eat healthy, organize your eating habits. Make a meal plan at the beginning of the week, shop the items needed, and cook them. Cooking your own meals allow you to know what goes in them—which means, you can be sure they’re healthy.
To make the task less taxing, cook meals at least three to four times a week. Or start even just twice a week, if your schedule is hectic. “You can leave a couple of nights open for eating out if you like, but planning it ahead of time will help you make intentional, healthy choices,” said Jennings.
Drink more water, less sugary drinks
Some go on fancy juice cleanse or consume an awful lot of detox teas, but the simplest way to be healthier is opting for water. Try to get your daily recommended water intake: the National Academy of Medicine suggests 3.7 liters (15 cups) for adult male and 2.7 liters (11 cups) for adult female.
And while you’re at it, make a conscious effort to reduce, if not remove, sugary drinks in your diet. According to Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, people who consume one to two cans of sugary drinks a day have a 26 percent greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes than those who rarely have such drinks—you seriously don’t need more reasons to cut down on soda.
Eat on smaller plates or bowls
According to a study by Cornell University eating on large plate tricks your brain into thinking that you haven’t eaten enough, hence it is suggested to eat on smaller plates or bowls to trick yourself into eating less.
If the Delboeuf illusion, which is the visual illusion where a dot surrounded by a large ring is typically perceived to be smaller than the same-sized dot surrounded by a small ring, does not work for you, at least manage your portions.
Schedule your exercise
Again, a goal without a plan is just a wish—if you write on your to-do-list that you’re exercising today but does not schedule a time when, it most likely will not happen.
“If you wait for the mood to strike or for a lull in your day, you might not get in an optimal amount of exercise,” reiterated Jennings. “Make sure you get enough by checking your schedule at the beginning of the week and penning in appointments to exercise.”
Experts recommend getting at least 150 minutes per week of moderate activity (e.g. brisk walking) or 75 minutes per week of vigorous activity (e.g. jogging). It’s best to squeeze in strength training twice a week, too. Break the total time into chunks that work for your schedule.
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