A few years ago I stopped making New Year’s resolutions. Not only were the majority of my goals unrealistic, but I never actually devised an action plan on how exactly I was going to achieve them. This led to a downward spiral of me slipping up (usually within the first month or two), devising an excuse for why my slip up was acceptable, making more slip-ups, getting mad for not accomplishing the goal as I hoped, and finally giving up on my resolution altogether. I decided I needed to change up my methods.
For the past few years, I have reflected on the year prior to determine what areas of my health tended to slack the most. Did I drink enough water? Was I more stressed then usual? How was my sleep?
After identifying several areas of improvement I set a specific goal for each, followed by 3-4 actions steps on how I specifically plan to achieve each goal. I then choose the goal most important to me to start, and when I feel I have adequately improve my habit, I will reward myself by starting on the next goal!
When setting goals it is helpful to make them SMART goals.
Specific – What do you want to achieve?
Measurable – How will you know when you have accomplished you goal?
Achievable – Is it realistic? Can it be accomplished?
Realistic – Is it relevant and worthwhile?
Timely – When do you want to accomplish it by? Set progress deadlines to help keep you
I have found that making these types of smaller goals has been more realistic and easier to stick to than grand resolutions. Here are 5 healthy habits I have focused on in the past and some simple ways to help achieve them. I’m sure you’ll be able to think of many more!
1. Do not eat at least 2 hours before bed.
*When you eat right before bed, your body is busy digesting your meal rather than detoxing from any toxins you may have accumulated throughout the day. In fact, according to this study “those sleeping two or more hours after supper had a 20% reduction in cancer risk for breast and prostate cancer”.
- Eat a filling dinner with healthy fats and protein to keep you full.
- Stay busy to keep your mind off food.
- If you start to have cravings, sip on hot water with lemon or unsweetened hot tea.
2. Drink enough water.
*Water is essential in digestion, removal of toxins, lubricating joints, mental health, and more. Most people do not drink enough water!
- Know much you should drink (approximately 1/2 your weight in ounces).
- Carry a water bottle with you at all times. Place a rubber band around it each time you finish a bottle to help keep track.
- Drink 1 cup of water for every caffeinated or alcoholic beverage.
- Add flavor such as lemon, berries, or cucumber.
- Invest in a water filter to improve the taste and quality of your tap water. Check out the Environmental Work Group’s Tap Water Database to see what’s in your local water.
3. Move 4-5 days per week for at least a half hour.
- Choose an activity you enjoy! This can be hiking, yoga, dancing, cycling, etc.
- Plan ahead – for example, I keep an extra pair of tennis shoes at my office so on days I am unable to workout, I walk outside for 30 minutes during my lunch break.
- If you exercise before or after work, pack your workout clothes the night before so you don’t forget anything.
- Recruit a friend to go with you. I often go to yoga or pilates classes with my sisters – they motivate me and hold me accountable when I’m feeling lazy!
4. Get 7-8 hours of good quality sleep per night.
- Pack lunch and set out clothes for work the night before.
- Set an alarm 30 minutes before bed so I don’t lose track of time.
- Avoid screens (TV, computer, cell phone) at least 1 hour before bed as the blue light from the screens can affect your melatonin levels and interfere with sleep.
- Avoid caffeine after 1 pm.
- Take a magnesium supplement, such as Natural Calm or Ancient Minerals Magnesium Oil Spray, before bed. Magnesium is naturally calming and many people are deficient!
What are your health goals for this year? Are any of these ones you would adopt? Share below!