New Year’s resolutions are fun, but your health is a year-round thing. So instead of breaking promises to yourself by mid-March, pick up three simple habits that will stick with you.
“We’ve become a very sleep-deprived society,” said Dr. Lawrence Epstein, medical director of clinical sleep medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. That’s because we don’t pay attention to our bodies’ cues.
If your schedule permits, spend a week going to bed when you’re tired and sleeping until you naturally wake up, to see how much sleep your body needs. “Most people will find that it’s more than they’re actually getting,” Epstein said. You could also add 30 minutes of nightly sleep each week until you hit your sweet spot.
You’ll feel better and be more productive, and you won’t need to sleep in on weekends.
Eat Your Veggies
Eating 2½ cups of vegetables a day gives you essential nutrients, plus fiber that squeezes less-healthful foods out of your diet.
Add veggies to your breakfast smoothie or bake up an egg-and-vegetable casserole you can slice and heat all week, suggests Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics spokesperson and registered dietitian Libby Mills. Pack a healthy lunch (and save some cash).
Half of your dinner plate should be filled with vegetables, but it doesn’t have to be all one vegetable, Mill said. Add a second of a different color just for fun. “You can just know that you’re doing something super-healthy for your body,” Mills said. That makes each meal an instant success.
Make Your Steps Count
About 84 percent of us get no regular exercise, says Walter R. Thompson, Ph.D., president of the American College of Sports Medicine. Moving from zero to 10,000 steps a day is too big a leap, so he suggests taking it slow. Park your car farther from your destination. Take the stairs.
“As you start making those small adjustments, you become more used to them and you become more comfortable making long-term adjustments,” Thompson said. Next, track your daily steps for a week, then increase your steps monthly until you reach 10,000.
Eventually, you’ll be ready to join a gym, take a class, play a sport or go cycling with friends. But by then, you’ll be able to stick with it.
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