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21 Healthy Habits for 2014

21 Healthy Habits for 2014

 

What if we commit to starting healthy habits in 2014? Here are a few ideas to get you going!

I think the reason that so many of our New Year’s resolutions fizzle is that they’re just too vague, and that makes it hard to actually put them into action.  A resolution is really just a goal, though, right? What if this year you had a structured goal to help you incorporate healthy habits into your life?

A resolutions like “eat healthy food,” for example, is kind of tricky, isn’t it? What do we mean when we say “healthy food?” Did we fail if we break down and devour a box of cookies? Are we planning to ditch those cookies from day one? An open-ended goal like this can be overwhelming, but healthy habits are made to stick.

What are Healthy Habits?

Healthy habits can refer to physical or emotional health. A healthy habit is one that makes you feel good and feel good about yourself. It’s a big umbrella, and I think that it encompasses a lot of what we are going for when we declare those fleeting New Year’s resolutions.

Breaking unhealthy habits can also be part of starting healthy ones. Cutting back on sugar or soda are good examples of healthy habits that are really more about giving something up that’s harming your health.

Unlike a resolution a habit is something that you do (or don’t do) regularly. It’s part of your routine. Brushing your teeth is a habit and so is your morning cup of coffee, and neither of those feel like chores because they’re just part of your day. The trick to making healthy habits stick is repetition, and having a plan is key.

Healthy Habits: Green Smoothies

A daily green smoothie is an attainable healthy habit!

How to Start Healthy Habits

Starting healthy habits isn’t easy, and I think there are some keys to effectively starting one:

  • The goal you’re setting should be flexible. Don’t beat yourself up for setbacks. Instead, let yourself screw up sometimes and commit to getting it right the next time.
  • Choose something specific and attainable, and have a structure in place. Don’t just say “exercise more.” Tell yourself what you’re going to do and how often, like “walking for 45 minutes on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings before work.”
  • Set short-term time limits. Monthly, weekly, and even quarterly check-ins can keep you on track. See where your healthy habits are strong and where you need to work a little harder. Maybe you’ve been great at eating more greens, but you’ve been eating a lot more cookies than is reasonable lately.
  • You need to commit to practicing your goal on a regular basis. We form healthy habits by repeating them over and over until they’re part of our day-to-day routine.

Healthy Habits for 2014

Instead of the typical New Year’s resolution, try starting one of these habits for physical or emotional health in 2014!

1. Happy Thoughts Jar – This might sound cheesy, but it’s actually really gratifying. Grab yourself a large jar, and every day write down something that makes you happy. Stick that scrap of paper in the jar, and when you’re feeling blue, you can sift through all of your happy thoughts from the year.

2. Green Smoothies – Instead of “eat healthier,” get specific and start your day off with a healthy green smoothie! My 40 Days of Green Smoothies book can help you get started, or you can find your own green smoothie recipes online.

3. Start a Daily Yoga Routine – Or commit to doing yoga on certain days of the week, if that seems more attainable to you. Check out these yoga poses for beginners to get you started.

4. Reduce Your Impact – “Go green” is a tough resolution to keep, but what if you resolved to start a few of these simple habits instead?

5. Switch to a Natural Deodorant – Don’t resolve to “get healthy.” Gets specific instead and ditch the toxic chemicals in your deodorant. Making the switch can be a little bit tricky, so check out these tips on how to make the switch a little less, well, stinky.

6. Ditch the Sodapop – Quitting your soda habit can go a long way towards getting healthier, and these tips can help you quit an unhealthy soda habit.

7. 13 Steps to a Better You – My friend Lisa at Lazy Budget Chef outlines her specific action plans for starting 13 healthy habits. You could follow one of these or pick a few for your New Year’s resolutions.

8. Ditch Plastic Food Storage – Talk about an unhealthy habit! Check out some tips on how to start using healthier glass to store your food.

9. Try Macrobiotic Eating – Healthy eating can seem elusive, but with some practice it’s totally doable. Jenny Bradford is starting a 30 day plan for macrobiotic eating, for example. Thirty days is a doable length of time, and at the end she’ll have developed some healthy habits without overwhelming herself.

10. Meatless Monday – Does going vegan or vegetarian seem elusive, but you’d like to try to eat less meat? Commit to going meatless for just one day a week! Your heart and many, many farm animals will thank you.

Healthy Habits: Cooking at Home

Cooking at home can save money, reduce waste, and help you eat healthier for the new year.

11. Cook at Home – Do you eat take out or delivery food for much of the week? Try starting a weekend cooking ritual to stock your fridge and freezer with home-cooked meals that you can eat all week long. If you’re overwhelmed by the whole idea of cooking, just get in there and get started! The more you cook, the easier it is to make your food at home.

12. Switch to a Standing Desk – Do you sit at a desk for 40 hours a week? It turns out that sitting is terrible for your health! Choosing a standing desk can help reverse the negative health effects of sitting all day, every day at the office. If standing all day seems like a lot, they also make convertible desks, so you can alternate. A friend of mine just switched to one of these, and she loves it!

13. Swap Your Desk Chair for a Yoga Ball – Does a standing or convertible desk seem like too much? Try using a yoga ball instead of a desk chair to improve posture and concentration while you work. Leesa recommends a stand up desk!

14. Ditch Sugar – This might seem a little bit daunting, but with a plan it’s attainable! The book The Sugar Detox looks like a good place to start with this healthy habit!

15. Go Vegan -Are you ready to take the plant-strong leap? Check out this complete guide to vegan cooking for beginners!

16. Meditate – Have you been wanting to try meditationThere’s an app for that, and it’s awesome. Leesa recommends Dahn Yoga!

17. Ride Your Bike to Work – You don’t have to ride your bike every day to be a bike commuter! Start with one day a week and go from there. Here are some bike commuting tips to get you started.

18. Ditch Bottled Water – It’s so convenient to grab a plastic bottle of water when you’re out and about. Start keeping a reusable bottle in your purse, car, and bike pannier so you don’t have to buy bottled water to stay hydrated.

19. Practice Gratitude – File this under “slowing down.” This healthy habit is all about taking a moment out of your day to appreciate even the mundane things in your life.

20. Learn Something New – Don’t just say that you’re going to learn something! Choose what you want to learn, and enroll in a class, so that you’re committed. Your local community college might be a good place for budget-friendly classes, or you can look for online classes if you need something that fits into your busy schedule.

21. Bust that Clutter – Just “get organized” can be a hard resolution to keep, but what if you break your unhealthy habit of storing clutter? Here are some clutter-busting tips to get you started.

Do you have any healthy habits that you’re trying to start in the new year? I’d love to hear about your New Year’s resolutions in the comments!

Becky Striepe

Becky Striepe is a freelance writer and vegan crafter living in Atlanta, Georgia. Her life’s mission is to make green crafting and vegan food accessible to everyone! Like this article? You can follow Becky on Twitter or find her on Facebook!

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Leesa A. Wheeler

Healthy Lifestyle Coach, Artisan, Author

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8 Healthy Habits for the New Year

8 Healthy Habits for the New Year

 

Happy almost new year! It’s that time when a lot of us are looking ahead and  thinking of what resolutions we’re going to make for the coming year. Instead of  vague or short-term goals this year, why not resolve to start a healthy habit  that you really want to stick with?

Have you ever noticed how the gym is extra crowded that first week in  January? By mid-January the wait time for that elliptical trainer is a little  bit more reasonable, and by the end of February things have pretty much settled  back to normal. That surge in gym-going is a great example of how new year’s  resolutions often work: we set out with the best of intentions, but our  resolutions are too big or too vague to really follow through with them all year  long.

Starting a healthy habit takes time. I’ve read a lot about starting habits,  and depending on what source you’re looking at, it can take anywhere from 21 to  66 days. That means that you need to practice something regularly for anywhere  from a few weeks over two months to really make it part of your routine. And  that’s if you’re practicing every day.

If your healthy habit is doing something once a week or less, it’s going to  take longer. Going into this with reasonable expectations is key to building  healthy habits that stick!

What’s great about starting a habit is that once you establish it as part of  your routine, it stops being a chore and starts being part of your routine.  Brushing your teeth in the morning is a great example of a habit. We wake up  bleary-eyed, and for many of us the first thing we do is stumble into the  bathroom and grab that toothbrush. It’s almost a reflex, right?

New years resolutions so often are something vague – like “get in  shape,” but vagaries are hard to stick to. Check out these ideas for healthy  habits that you can form in 2013, and remember: practice makes  perfect!

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gratitude: you're great!

1)    Start a  Gratitude Jar

Practicing gratitude is such a great habit to get into, and turning that  practice into something physical can help you remember to be grateful for what  you have every day. Get yourself a mason jar or a small vase, and every day,  write down something that you’re grateful for and stick the paper in the  jar.

Your moment of gratitude can be as simple as something like, “Made an amazing  pot of coffee this morning!” to bigger things like, “Got a promotion at work  today!” Remember to date your moments of gratitude, so you can jog your memory  about them later on.

At the end of the year (or when times are feeling a little rough), you get to  sort through the jar and enjoy all of the little blessings from the past year.  It’s so easy to take those small things for granted, and having them all in one  place helps remind us of how lucky we are. (Leesa recommends a gratitude journal to write down at least 5 things you are thankful for each day! When you focus on all that is good in your life, you change and your life will change!)  

 

learn a skill: making sushi

2)    Learn a New  Skill

Have you always wanted to learn how to make pottery or cook Indian food?  Instead of just resolving to do those things, sign up for a class!

I know, pottery and cooking classes can be expensive. If you don’t have the  money in your budget for a class, spend some time googling and see what  resources you can find online. Then, create yourself a structured schedule and  block out time each week to practice whatever it is you’re trying to learn. For  the Indian food example, maybe you can bookmark a dozen recipes, and try making  one or two a week, starting with the ones that seem simplest.

You can also invest in a book, which can be very helpful. Sometimes having a  tangible item can help keep you motivated.

get regular exercise

3)    Getting Regular  Exercise

As cliche as it sounds, a lot of us do want to lose some weight in the new  year, and that’s OK! Focusing on weight loss tends to be ineffective, though.  Instead, try focusing on getting regular exercise.

One of the best ways I’ve found to incorporate exercise into my schedule has  been…incorporating it into my schedule! Literally. Whether you use a day planner  or a digital calendar to keep up with appointments, schedule those workout just  like you’d schedule a work meeting or a lunch date.

You can join a gym, but you can also just buy a pair of tennis shoes and head  outdoors for your workouts. Walking and jogging outside are totally free  activities that almost anyone can do. It can also help to pick up a program,  like Couch to 5K, or sign up for an event like a race. Training towards  something specific is very motivating!

cooking at home

4)    Cooking at  Home

“Eat healthier” is another common resolution that’s hard to keep. Instead of  just resolving to improve your diet, try focusing on something more concrete.  When we cook at home, we tend to eat healthier food than when we go out or order  takeout.

That doesn’t mean you have to toss your favorite Chinese delivery menu in the  recycle bin! If you eat most of your meals from restaurants now, try cooking at  home once or twice a week to start, and add in more meals as you get more  comfortable in the kitchen.

Related Reading: 5  Essential Vegan and Vegetarian Cookbooks

When you choose your recipes for home-cooking, look for ones that have  healthy doses of fresh fruits, veggies, whole grains, and lean protein. You can  grab a couple of healthy cookbooks to get you motivated or search online for  recipes. Cooking  Light and Epicurious  both have searchable recipe databases, and you can even look for specific  ingredients, if there’s something in the fridge that you need to cook before it  goes bad!

quit smoking

5)    Replace a Bad  Habit with a Good One

Are you a smoker? Is sugar your weakness? Do you love diet soda? We all have  vices, and cutting back or cutting out one of yours can mean a healthier,  happier 2013.

The trouble with a resolution like “quit smoking” is that on its own, it’s a  pretty daunting task. Instead of just resolving to give up a bad, try replacing  it with a good one. Quitting smoking is hard, but what if you’re trying to start  a running regimen at the same time? Suddenly, your smoking is holding you back  from another goal, which makes it a little easier to say no to the bad  habit.

For something like diet soda or sugar, replace those unhealthy treats with  healthy ones. Next time you want to reach for a diet coke, grab a fizzy water  and sass it up with a squeeze of lemon or a shot of juice. Put down that cookie  and grab a tangerine instead.

The other key to ditching bad habits is not beating yourself up if you slip.  So, you had a few drinks at the bar and smoked a cigarette last night. You can’t  change that. Just don’t smoke today! Or tomorrow. Go easy on yourself, and  remember that your goal is a long term one.

yoga

6)    Practice  Mindfulness

It’s easy to make snap decisions – sometimes ones we regret – in stressful  situations. When that happens, we just end up even more stressed out! This year,  resolve to try being more mindful in tough situations. Try to remember to take a  step back and look at the big picture. Whether you’re faced with a time crunch  at work or a family emergency, I bet you’ll find yourself making better choices  and stressing less.

The key is finding better, concrete ways to deal with your  stress right there in the moment. Try taking a deep breath and slowly counting  to five when you feel things getting out of control. Or even learn when it’s  time to remove yourself from a situation to give yourself a little  perspective.

Mindfulness can also be about celebrating what’s good in our lives. Pairing  up this resolution with another one, like the  gratitude jar, can help you remember what’s important in life when times get  a little stressful.

self care: take a tea or coffee break

7)    Practice Self  Care

Self care is all about taking the time to care for your own emotional needs.  We can get so caught up in the day-to-day that we neglect our own mental health.  When you practice self care, you not only improve your own happiness, but you  set yourself up to approach the rest of your day with a more positive attitude  and more energy.

Practice a little self care every day, and when you make this resolution decide what that means to you. It doesn’t have to take a lot of time.  It could be as simple as taking the dog for a walk while you listen to your  favorite podcast or spending 20 minutes one evening painting your nails. Just do  one small thing for yourself.

Whenever I talk about self care, I like to share this video from Twin Peaks.  It’s a little bit cheesy, but I think the point he makes is spot on. Treat  yourself every day, and you’ll be happier and healthier.

volunteering at a soup kitchen

8)    Volunteer Your  Time

One of the best ways that we can improve ourselves is by giving back to  others. Try signing up to walk dogs at the local shelter or help out once a week  at the local food bank. Giving back improves your community, and you get to go  home feeling warm and fuzzy. Everybody wins!

We are all blessed with so much, and taking time each week or even a couple  of times a month to give back can help remind us of how lucky we are.

Do you have a healthy habit planned for 2013? I’d love to hear your  healthy new year’s resolutions in the comments!

Becky Striepe

Becky Striepe is a freelance writer and vegan crafter living in Atlanta,  Georgia. Her life’s mission is to make green crafting and vegan food accessible  to everyone! Like this article? You can follow  Becky on Twitter or find her on  Facebook!

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