Five (Amazingly Simple) Ways to Improve your Health NOW!
Are you looking to make meaningful and sustainable changes to your diet and lifestyle? Do you need a little guidance to point you in the right direction? If so, I have compiled my five “heavy-hitter” habits to adopt NOW to improve your health.
Five Healthy Habits to Adopt in 2016:
No “Thirst-Cue” Needed:
Let’s start off with possibly the simplest (not necessarily the easiest) habit to change. If you are like most people, you likely miss (or ignore) thirst cues during a busy day. This new habit will take advantage of visual cues as one of the most powerful ways to motivate behaviour change.
My Tip: If you have a desk job (or any job really), try putting a larger glass of water very close by – this could be by your computer or in a portable bottle. You’ll be surprised how often you will take a swig when it’s right in front of you! I find this trick even works for people who don’t enjoy drinking water. Try it out, bet you’ll be better hydrated.
Fun Fact: The amount of water a person needs depends on their activity level, their dietary intake and even the outside temperature. People do not necessarily require 8-13 cups of water per day since they will receive varying amounts from their food and beverages as well. An estimated 20% of our daily water comes from solid foods, especially fruits and vegetables.
Get out of Your Chair Frequently:
Did you know that the vast majority of us spend more time sitting than we do sleeping? Scary but true considering our commuting time and sedentary jobs.
My Tip: Get up from the desk at least every 1-2 hours throughout the day. It is so important to stand up and take the time to move around. Walk over to ask a colleague a question instead of e-mailing. Or move your garbage to the other side of the room.
Fun Fact: It is estimated that we burn an extra 50 calories per hour when standing, compared to sitting. This might not sound like a lot, but if we stand intermittently for a total of an extra hour a day, this could amount to a five-pound weight loss over one year. Research supports sitting less decreases risk for heart disease, diabetes, cancer and premature death (Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 2014).
Plan for Success:
In the working world, we plan for specific outcomes and then work in order to bring these outcomes into fruition. Healthy eating works the exact same way. If we want a certain result, we need to put thought and planning into making it happen!
My Tip: Take 15 minutes and plan your meals for the next day or the week ahead. I know it sounds annoying but it gets easier with practice. To get started, I advise my clients to reflect on the previous day and make a note on what meals left them feeling energized and which ones did not. Working with a dietitian helps in strategizing to decrease your stress when life gets busy.
Back to the Kitchen:
According to an Ipsos Reid poll, 43 per cent of Canadians say they do not cook balanced meals for themselves or their family on a regular basis. Time constraints are the number one challenge in planning and preparing meals. Cooking puts you in the drivers seat for the foods you put into your body. Research shows that those who cook their own meals tend to have healthier diets (more vegetables, whole grains and less sugar, fat and calories).
My Tip: Get cooking one extra time per week. Make it fun by trying new recipes, cooking with others or batch cooking so you have leftovers on those busy days. It does not have to be anything fancy; a egg sandwich on a whole grain English muffin with a side of veggies is far better than something you can pick up at a fast food restaurant!
Did you know that lack of sleep triggers stress hormone secretion which increases risk of cardiovascular disease? Inadequate sleep also increases hunger, reduces immunity and alters blood sugar control, which can increase risk for diabetes.
My Tip: Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep a night. Make sleep a health priority! Go to bed earlier, spend time relaxing beforehand, avoid caffeine, alcohol and other stimulants like screen time on cell or computer.DYK: you should aim for 7-8 hours of sleep at night? Click To Tweet
Small changes repeated over time create healthy habits. Make yourself a priority by setting new habits for your health and well-being!
Please join the conversation and add your own healthy habit ideas that have worked for you.