While good genes and good luck never hurt, your overall health depends in large part on the little things you do day after day. With that in mind, here are ten habits you should consider adopting.
Get Up 30 Minutes Earlier Every Morning—And Stretch
If you just can’t get out of bed, maybe you and your snooze button need to break up. Giving yourself an extra half-hour in the morning will allow you to not feel so rushed; you can use that time to meditate, pray, listen to inspiring music—whatever lets you greet the day with a smile instead of a snarl. One suggestion is to do some stretching, especially if you’re prone to leg and/or foot cramps.
Prevent Routines from Becoming Ruts by Setting Goals
Routines can be very comforting. But if you allow them to, routines can deepen into ruts that cause your life to stagnate. Ask yourself, “Does my daily routine give me the solid foundation for a creative, happy, productive life?” If the answer is no, then the best way to bust a rut is by setting a goal: Cooking with an unfamiliar ingredient for one meal each week, adding a yoga practice to counterbalance your running program, exploring a new challenge at work—whatever you need to shake things up and get yourself moving forward again.
Eat At Least One Healthy Meal a Day (and/or Replace One Sugary Drink)
Need to clean up your diet? Don’t try to remake your eating habits all at once. Instead, pick one meal a day and map out a plan. For example, if donuts or pastries your usual breakfast, stock up on Greek yogurt, eggs, plain steel-cut oatmeal, etc. and write down what you’ll eat every morning of the week, including weekends. Once you’ve got healthy breakfasts down cold, move on to lunch or dinner and repeat. The same principle applies if sugar-filled drinks are your downfall. Replace one cola, for instance, with flavored seltzer or one chocolate mocha with unsweetened green tea.
Take the Stairs Whenever Possible
It seems simple, doesn’t it? Actually, finding the stairs in many buildings can be a challenge, and some staircases come equipped with alarm systems. But if you can manage it, stair work provides the same benefits as a stair-stepper or elliptical trainer—for free.
Shop the Supermarket’s Outer Edges—and Read Nutrition Labels for Everything Else
The outer perimeter of the food market is where the fresh stuff is: fresh produce, dairy, meats, seafood, etc. Fresh foods give you the biggest nutritional bang for your buck. When you do venture into the inner aisles, take time to read the Nutrition Facts labels. Those black-and-white boxes are packed with information, including amounts of saturated and trans fats, sodium, added sugars and more. And pay special attention to the serving size; one way to get better-looking numbers is to break a package into “servings” that wouldn’t satisfy a fly.
Be Kind to Yourself Through Positive Self-Talk
Your worst enemy couldn’t beat you up the way you can. So pay attention to that inner commentary that runs through your head all day long: If you catch yourself saying “I can’t,” “I’m not worth it” or “I’m not good at
Move an Extra Two Minutes an Hour
It can be tough getting the exercise you need if you slave over a hot keyboard all day. But you know what they say—sitting is the new smoking in terms of how bad it is for your well-being. One solution: Commit to moving just two more minutes every hour, preferably as in getting up and walking away from your workspace (although simply standing up is an improvement). It may not seem like much, but just becoming more aware of the need to move around more will make a difference.
Keep Healthy Snacks Visible in the Fridge
You know those produce bins at the bottom of your refrigerator? Those are great places to store vegetables and fruits you plan to make meals with, but for quick snacks…not so much. Instead, keep apples, cut-up carrots, celery sticks and the like in clear containers and place them (along with plain yogurt, hummus and other healthy stuff) on a shelf where you can’t help but see them every time you open the fridge. You’ll be a lot more likely to actually eat them that way.
Get Active at Lunchtime, Preferably Outside
Whether you’re working from home right now or not, you don’t need 45 or 30 minutes to eat (or even worse, spend all that time at your desk). Get outside instead: Take a walk, shoot some hoops, do some aerobics—whatever gets your blood moving. The fresh air will invigorate you and the sun exposure (within reason) will help your skin create Vitamin D. As an added bonus, you’ll find it easier to stave off that afternoon slump, too.
Pick Up a Multivitamin—and Put Away the Salt Shaker
Speaking of Vitamin D: Did you know that about 40% of Americans don’t get enough of the sunshine vitamin? In fact, many people don’t get enough of several crucial nutrients, such as iron and vitamin B12. Although no substitute for a healthy diet, a high-quality multivitamin/mineral can serve as a nutritional insurance policy. And while you’re adding a multi, do yourself a favor and give up your salt shaker—most people consume too much sodium. Flavor your food with herbs, spices and lemon juice instead.
†The information provided is not an endorsement of any product, and is intended for educational purposes only. NaturesPlus does not provide medical advice and does not offer diagnosis of any conditions. Current research on this topic is not conclusive and further research may be needed in order to prove the benefits described.
**These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.