At the beginning of each year, one of the most popular and reoccurring resolutions is to try to be healthier. While everyone’s approach to being healthier and their definition of what healthy actually is may vary, the general consensus is to get the body in prime shape. Even though there are many approaches to reaching this resolution, many often don’t get met or get abandoned because of the amount of time and dedication people believe these approaches require. While getting healthy may be daunting– especially if you don’t get much sleep, eat out a lot, and avoid the gym — major lifestyle changes can be made starting with baby steps.
1. Get Enough Sleep
While sleep is one of the first things to go when on a tight deadline, its role in creating a healthier lifestyle is a necessity. Sleep helps improve memory, curb inflammation (which is linked to heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, stroke, and premature aging), and improve athletic performance by providing you with more stamina. Furthermore, researchers at the University of Chicago discovered that dieters who were well-rested lost more fat than their sleep deprived counterparts, who lost more muscle mass.
2. Don’t Skip Breakfast
Many people think skipping breakfast is an appropriate way of dieting. As the most important meal of the day, eating breakfast everyday is crucial in obtaining a healthy lifestyle. Some studies have found that people who eat breakfast are less likely to become obese. Additionally, breakfast provides you with enough energy to exercise and the concentration to go about your day more effectively.
3. Eat More Fruits and Vegetables
You’ve probably been told to “eat your fruits and vegetables” since childhood, and there’s good reason for that. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, fruits and vegetables provide essential vitamins and minerals, fiber, and other substances that are necessary to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Most fruits and vegetables are also naturally low in calories and fat, while still proving to be filling. If you’re not a big fan of eating fruits and vegetables, try drinking them. In the morning or with a meal, make a shake comprised of fruits and vegetables that you like and drink your intake. Experiment with different varieties to find out what you like.
4. Keep Hydrated
The recommendation of having 8 glasses of water doesn’t necessarily mean you have to drink 8 glasses of water. Water can be found in lots of fruit and vegetables like watermelon and celery. Drinking water is important in fighting dehydration, which can drain your body of energy and make it harder to perform normal functions. Keeping hydrated is especially important when exercising, as the smallest amount of dehydration can affect athletic performance. If your pee is of a darker color rather than a lighter yellow or clear color, that might be a sign you need to drink more water.
5. Avoid Pollutants for Your Body
It’s best to steer clear of excess alcohol and tobacco use. Though drinks with friends and a cigarette after a rough day may sound tempting, both pollutants are bad for health and interfere with weight loss. If giving up both pollutants is too much of a lifestyle change, keep track of your intake on a daily or weekly basis, and try to decrease it.
Probably the most avoided aspect of maintaining a healthy lifestyle is exercising, despite suggestions by experts to get at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day. Though daunting, exercising comes in such an immense variety of formats that there’s likely to be one that fits your needs. A 30-minute speed walk at sunset will burn around 1,500 calories per week. If you’re more of an indoor type, the gym offers a lot of options for machines that will work on everything from cardio, muscle building, and fat burning. Exercises such as push-ups, jump ropes, Pilates, yoga, etc., can be done in the comfort of your home. Sports like tennis and basketball can also be a great means of physical activity that won’t really feel like exercise at all. If you just can’t find the motivation to exercise, try asking a family member or friend to join you on your journey.
Image courtesy of : Sisterhood of Natural Hair.