You know the drill. A new year is here, and it’s time to make good on your resolutions to be healthier. Unfortunately, recent studies have shown that less than 25% of people are still striving toward keeping their resolutions after one month, and less than 10% ultimately achieve what they set out to do at the beginning of the year. So, forget about making resolutions. Instead, make daily choices and stick to them to improve your health. The good news? Making healthier choices doesn’t have to complicated or time consuming. Here are five easy choices to improve your health in the new decade. 1. Make and Keep Health-Related Appointments Just like your car, your body can’t run without maintenance forever. To keep yourself in good health, you should make and keep regular check-up appointments with your doctor and dentist. Regular check-ups can give health professionals the opportunity to detect and treat any health issues you may have. If you don’t go to these type of appointments, a small, easily treatable issue could turn into a serious health problem. And, of course, you’ll also need to keep any follow-up appointments that are recommended. Set appointment reminders to help you remember, and schedule time off from work if needed. 2. Get Your Body Moving If you work in an office setting and sit most of the day, or you spend your free time lounging on the couch, it’s time to get moving for better health. You may have heard the warning, “Sitting is the new smoking.” While expert opinions differ on whether sitting a lot really can damage your health as much as chronic smoking, one thing is clear: Exercise is good for you. Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise, five days per week for best results. If you’re on a tight schedule, keep it simple by grabbing a few minutes of exercise whenever you can. For example, take the stairs instead of the elevator, or park at the far edge of the parking lot and walk to your destination. You can also invest in an exercise bike, treadmill, or elliptical and station it where you watch TV. Then, instead of sitting on the couch, exercise while you watch a favorite program. 3. Keep Track of What You Eat With the holidays not so far behind, you may find that you’ve gained a few pounds. Unfortunately, if you’re not careful, those few pounds can turn into 15 pounds, 20 pounds — or even more. Carrying around extra weight isn’t good for your health, and it can eventually lead to obesity. Instead of allowing yourself to steadily gain weight, consider using a calorie counting app to log your meals and keep track of how many calories you’re consuming each day. You can also use tricks like using smaller plates at meals — which will force you to cut down on portion sizes — and cutting out sugary drinks and snacks. Before you know it, you’ll have shed those holiday pounds and a few more for good measure. 4. Find Ways to Reduce Stress in Your Life Stress can wreak havoc on your health. From pangs of anxiety to stomach issues to sleepless nights, it’s time to find ways to feel less stressed for better health. The first key to feeling less stressed is to determine the sources of your stress. For example, is your morning routine with family chaotic and causes your day to start off wrong? If so, find ways to make morning tasks easier. Have your children gather their belongings and lay out their clothing the night before. Look for healthy but quick breakfast alternatives that require little or no prep. With some forethought and planning, you can turn any stressful situation into one that is less chaotic. 5. Get Enough Quality Sleep Dark circles under your eyes and having an overwhelming desire to take a nap every afternoon aren’t the only effects of not getting enough quality rest. Unfortunately, conditions such as high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes and heart disease can also result from not getting enough quality sleep. So, what should you do? The first step is to see if your mattress is the problem because that’s a relatively easy fix. Your mattress could be too firm or too soft. Mattress companies like Muse Sleep take an innovative approach to customer’s sleep issues by providing services like a sleep personality quiz and a 120-night, no-questions-asked sleep trial. Conclusion If your mattress is not the culprit, perhaps it’s stress. Try to destress each evening before bed by taking a warm bath, drinking chamomile tea and reading a calming book instead of using a device.
John Henning is a nutritionist, freelance writer, and food blogger that provides accessible nutrition info to help people live a healthier life. His unique approach to nutrition emphasizes nutrient-dense, whole foods and healthy habits rather than restrictive diets.