Monday, December 28, 2015

Ring in the New Year with Healthy Habits

A guest post by Shelly Stinson

Sadly, statistics show that only one out of every eight people actually succeed at making their dreams a reality after setting a New Year’s resolution. While this may make you want to give up on whatever it is you want right now—whether it be weight loss, a higher level of fitness, or just better health—claiming defeat before it’s even occurred, the reality is that you can be the one in eight who makes it. How? By developing healthy habits.

As Aristotle once said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” In other words, if you just put some regular actions into place, this will be your year to make all of your health and fitness dreams come true. Certainly, there are many different habits that can get you there, but there are four that stand out as being extremely effective if it’s results that you’re after.

#1: Relieve Your Stress, Often

No matter what your health and fitness goal, being anxious and worried all of the time can prevent you from achieving it due to the negative consequences of too much stress (think lower immunity, more fatigue, and emotional eating). Fortunately, there are many options when it comes to regular stress relief, so all you have to do is pick the ones that are most appealing to you. For instance, some people prefer relatively low-key activities like meditating, practicing mindfulness, or talking to a friend. However, others find a great deal of stress relief in more intense physical actions such as playing sports, taking a hike, or dancing to their favorite songs. Figure out what relieves your stress best and do it. Often.

#2: Eat More Veggies

Not only are vegetables low in calories and fat (and the ones that do contain fat have the good kind), they are also loaded with a multitude of vitamins and minerals that your body’s systems need to function at optimal levels. Additionally, they help increase your energy, which is a bonus for anyone with a busy schedule. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you can’t ever eat some of your favorites. As College News suggests, just give yourself a “Treat Day” every once in a while, eating healthfully most of the time.

#3: Make Fitness Fun

If you believe that hitting your fitness goals means spending the next 365 doing the same activity over and over again, you’re likely to give up sooner rather than later. While exercising is obviously a healthy habit to have, you also need to find a way to make fitness fun to stay motivated. Choose activities you enjoy doing and getting into shape will be more of a joy versus a dread. And if you’re not sure what activities those are, don’t be afraid to try new things like kickboxing or rock climbing. Who knows? You may just like them.

#4: Get More Sleep

The health benefits of sleep are numerous, ranging from lowering your risk of disease to helping you manage chronic pain. This makes getting enough shuteye a good habit to work toward this year if your goal is total health and wellness. So give yourself a curfew and make sure you stick to it. It also helps to create a bedtime ritual that makes you drowsy, so consider the activities that put you most at ease (like reading or a hot bath) and do them right before you go to sleep.

Do these four things and your New Year’s resolution is well within your grasp. Can’t you just feel it?

Shelly Stinson is a freelance writer from Denver, CO. When she's not writing she's usually exploring the outdoors or the Denver food scene. Follow her on Twitter: @shellystins.


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