5 Easy Daily Habits to Build a Healthier You
How long do most New Year's resolutions last? A week? Maybe a month?
Makes sense if you think about it: no matter how much you may want to stick to your resolution, the pressures of work and family and just plain life make a grand, sweeping resolution almost impossible to keep.
So this year try something different. Since success is never overnight but the result of a series of small, incremental, repeated steps, simply pick a few things to do differently every day.
Start small. Start concrete.
Start with a few healthy habits anyone can incorporate into their lives--knowing that those small successes will inspire you to take further small steps.
Here are easy habits you can adopt every day to make you a lot healthier:
1. Drink a glass of water about 20 minutes before every meal. We all need to drink more water. But instead of trying to start drinking 10 glasses of water a day, just drink a glass before you eat lunch and dinner. That's an easy way to up your intake.
Plus there's a side benefit if you're trying to control your weight: If you drink before you eat, when you sit down at the table you'll already feel a little more full and won't be as tempted to eat past the point of hunger.
Need convincing that drinking more water is a good thing? Even mild cases of dehydration make you feel more gloomy and pessimistic, possibly because certain neurons may detect dehydration and alert areas of the brain that impact your mood. So don't just drink more water for yourself--do it for the people around you, too.
2. Eat one meal differently. Should you eat differently at every meal? Probably so--but going all in is almost impossible to maintain. So just pick one meal to change.
The easiest is lunch. You're at work so you should probably keep it simple anyway, and you're away from your family so what you choose to eat has no impact on meals you eat together.
What's a healthy meal? Eat one portion of protein (consider a portion an amount that fits in the palm of your hand), and a vegetable and piece of fruit. That could be a chicken breast, some carrots, and an apple. Or a can of tuna, a couple cucumbers, and a banana. Or a piece of fish and a small salad.
Think of it this way: A healthy lunch gives you plenty of energy for the afternoon--so see it not as a "meal" but as "high performance fuel" that makes you more productive.
And it's one small step towards better controlling your portions at every meal.
3. Take a quick walk. One benefit of eating a healthy lunch is that you'll have a little time left over. (Or, if you want to free up more free time, eat what you brought for lunch while you're working.)
Then get up, get out, and take a walk. Cruise around the building. Get out and get some fresh air. Or do what LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner does and try walking meetings: not only will the change in scenery change your perspective, you'll have a lot fewer distractions.
A 15- or 20-minute walk will let you burn a few calories, burn off some stress, and feel better when you climb back into the work saddle. And you'll start to make fitness a part of your daily lifestyle without adding to your already busy schedule.
4. Volunteer. Doing something for others doesn't just help those in need; it can also improve your mental health and help you live longer. Other studies show that volunteering can lower cholesterol.
Of course you don't have to formally volunteer. An easier way is to be alert for times when someone you work with needs a little help. Then pitch in; not only will you feel better about yourself, you'll build better connections and professional relationships... while helping someone who really needs help but probably would never have asked.
5. Go to bed earlier, rise with the sun. Generally speaking you need seven or eight hours of sleep a night. (I know; you're not getting that much. But you should.)
So go to bed earlier... but get up around sunrise. The more daylight hours you're awake the higher your levels of vitamin D. Research shows vitamin D deficiencies are widespread--which is unfortunate, since vitamin D impacts genes that help you resist autoimmune diseases, infectious diseases, and even cancer.
So start going to bed earlier, getting up earlier, and start making hay while the sun shines. As a bonus, you'll get a head start on your competition.
That's an advantage you can always use.