Its that time of the year! We are all eager to start the New Year on a good note, turn over a new leaf. We want to get more serious about the important things in our lives, and cut out some of those unwanted things.
But then, deep down, we have that one big worry! Can I stick to my resolutions? Can I muster the discipline to keep at it throughout the year?
Lets accept it – its tough.
- Its tough to wake up every morning and hit the gym, day after day, every day.
- Its tough to say no to that extra serving of dessert.
- Its tough to stop yourself from pushing that activity to later, tomorrow, some time.
- Its tough to convince yourself to shut your phone and laptop off, on Sunday.
Is there a better way? What if we didn’t have to do the same thing every day and had a set of great choices to pick from?
Here are 20 ideas to make a healthy day.
1. Wake up before sunrise
Sleep experts have suggested that going to bed early and waking up early will make one’s body more in tune with the earth’s circadian rhythms, offering more restorative sleep. Other studies have shown that morning people exhibit character traits like optimism, being agreeable, satisfaction and conscientiousness. Ayurveda recommends the hour before sunrise as the best time to meditate. This is the time when the mind has been refreshed by sleep and the day’s rhythms are yet to start influencing the body and mind.
2. Don’t skip breakfast
After a night of rest and recuperation, your body needs some energy to kick start the day. Without this energy, your body goes into low-intensity, energy-saving mode – for the whole day. Breakfast is important. Critically important, if you want to be at your best.
3. Exercise for an hour
Exercising helps you build a strong core. A strong core increases your strength, balance, posture and pretty much every activity that you do. Here are the only 6 exercises that you need for a strong core.
4. Drink 2 glasses of water 5 times a day
Are you drinking enough water? Most likely not. Do you know that dehydration makes you old? Don’t wait to feel thirsty before reaching out for that glass of water. Better still, keep a bottle of water at hand at all times. Here are the best times of the day to drink water.
5. Cook a meal at home
Processed and packaged foods and eating out have become an integral part of our life. They are not great for health though. Cooking at home is a great opportunity to have fun, bond with family, get up close and personal with the food we eat and of course, packed with healthy nutrition. Here are 5 tips to get you started with home cooking.
6. Get off the internet
Are you a prisoner of the internet? Do you compulsively reach out for your Facebook fix? Do you check email every 5 minutes? Check every notification? Enjoy browsing all those shopping web sites? You are not alone. You have to reclaim your life back. Start slowly. Get off the internet for a few hours. Increase your periods of non-distraction. Even a week away from Facebook can change your life!
7. Walk briskly for an hour
Brisk walking is easy to start, gentle on the joints, yet great for the heart and lungs. It helps burn fat and cuts risk of metabolic syndrome and diabetes. Mornings are the best time. Here are 16 reasons why you should get up and get walking to great health.
8. No junk food
Junk food is calorie-dense and nutrient-poor, the opposite of what we really need. Switch from regular to diet pop. Observe how much you spend on junk food every week – budget the same amount to buy healthy food instead. Nuts and fruits are great alternatives to those trans-fat heavy fast fried snacks.
9. Get 8 hours of sleep at night
8 hours of uninterrupted sleep is the best gift you can give yourself. You need to prepare for it. Don’t take long daytime naps. Keep your dinners light and avoid alcohol. Don’t drink too much water before sleeping. Late-night television is a strict no-no. Keep your hands and feet warm. Switch on some calming music. Use Yoga to relax. Switch off those blue light emitting devices. Keep your room dark or dimly lit. Stick to a regular sleep-wake schedule.
10. Procrastinate procrastinating
Procrastination is not the harmless indulgence that we often think it is. People who are prone to procrastination have a heightened risk of cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure. Procrastination is linked to a range of stress-related health problems, including headaches, digestive issues, colds and flu, and insomnia. Also, people who tend to procrastinate have more maladaptive coping mechanisms, which include negative thoughts, self-blame, denial, and other strategies that are deleterious to our mental well-being.
There is always more to be done than can be done. You cant let that get in the way of getting started. Here are some tips to help you stop procrastinating.
11. Cycle to work
Cycling is easy and fun, boosts energy, relieves stress, builds muscle, prevents illness and needless to say, is great for your heart. Its also great if you are living in a city with traffic and parking woes.
12. Ditch the elevator
Yes, its tempting to push that button. Yes, those steps look daunting. But you do know, that the first step is the toughest one. After that its easy. Climbing steps, along with squats and jumping, is one of the best ways to lose weight, strengthen the lower body (especially the knees and thighs), increase lung capacity and strengthen the heart. Step up. Its OK, in fact, its great, to huff and puff a little bit!
13. Drink a cup of green tea
14. Laugh out loud for 10 minutes
Can you remember the last time you laughed out aloud, with tears streaming and your stomach in knots?
Laughter increases blood circulation, boosts immunity, aids muscle relaxation, reduces stress, enhances your intake of oxygen rich air, stimulates your heart, lungs and muscles. It also increases endorphin production (the happy hormone), breaks the pain-spasm cycle, helps you cope with difficult situations, reduces depression and improves your mood. Above all, it makes us human! As they say – He who laughs . . . lasts.
15. Do 10 repetitions of Surya Namaskar
Surya Namaskar (sun salutation) stretches the entire body, stimulates the endocrine, circulatory, respiratory and digestive systems and energizes the mind. It consist of 12 steps (yoga poses) to be performed in a continuous flowing action. Perform it 10 times, at sunrise, facing the sun (if possible), salute the energy flowing through the universe and capture some of it within yourself.
16. Breathe in deep for 10 minutes
Find a quiet place. Close your eyes. Breathe normally for a couple of minutes. And then breathe in deep. Fill up your lungs. Empty them fully. Feel your body soak up the oxygen. Feel the chaos and negativity melt away. Open your eyes and find yourself calm, vitalized, transformed. Its a whole new world – inside and outside!
17. Take a barefoot stroll on grass
Walking bare feet on moist grass immediately produces a warm, tingling sensation. It stimulates reflexology points in the feet which is great for the entire body, especially the eyes. It also connects us with Mother Earth. Walking on grass is a form of healing meditation, removing our stress and replacing it with well being on all levels.
18. Give sugar a pass
Short term sugar overload causes symptoms like mood shifts, learning difficulties, poor sleep, decreased energy and bloating. Long term sugar overload causes more than 70 documented adverse effects like increased belly fat, insulin resistance/diabetes, failing liver, kidneys, eyes and thyroid, frequent infections, cancer, dementia, stroke, infertility, developmental delay and poor growth.
The moot point is – excess of sugar is not good for your health. Take a day off from added sugar. Eat some fruits instead.
19. Go green
Plant-based diets are low in calories, low-fat, and high in nutrients, especially fiber and water which help increase satiety and resting energy rate. They help reduce high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and obesity. Cut back on your meat intake by substituting for healthy meat alternatives such as: tempeh (fermented soy), edamame beans, tofu (silken, firm, or extra-firm depending on the dish), and seitan (wheat protein). Or simply try replacing meat dishes with legumes.
20. Call up an old friend
No, don’t poke him on Facebook. Don’t chat with her on Whatsapp. Pick up the phone. You don’t need an appointment. Let it be spontaneous. And then, before you end the call, fix up a time to meet up. It might be the best thing you will do in the whole year!