When you head the word “health”, images of cardio classes, calorie restriction and increasing your dumbbell weights probably come to mind. While getting your heart rate up, eating better and strength training are all key aspects of health and fitness, there’s so much more to it. As you ring in the new year, set resolutions that are both challenging and feasible. If you demand too much of yourself, failure is more likely to happen and a vicious cycle begins.
If the idea of resolutions is off-putting, ask yourself six key questions offered by Psych Central that will help you determine if it’s the right approach for you. Think this is your year to create some goals and stick to them? Choose from this smorgasbord of options that will keep you on your toes, but still offer success at your fingertips:
1. Drink more water
The majority of Americans are chronically dehydrated according to Medical Daily, and this can lead to a number of physical problems as well as overeating. It’s easy for your body to confuse thirst cues with hunger cues. While your special amount of water needed per day can vary, shoot for half the amount of water in ounces as your body weight. A 150 pound person should aim for 75 ounces of water per day, and remember that tea and other liquids without sodium “count”. To curb overeating tendencies, down eight ounces of water 20 minutes before eating or snacking so your body can satisfy thirst first (and then hunger if necessary).
2. Move more
While the CDC recommends adults get at least 150 minutes of exercise per week, you don’t have to do it all at once. Commit yourself to moving more, whether it’s taking the stairs at the office instead of the elevator, parking as far away as possible to require more walking, or setting a pop-up every 30 minutes urging you to get up and go for a brisk walk (which also helps with eye strain). Get a pedometer or other fitness tracker to make sure you’re on track.
3. Eat locally, seasonally and “wholly”
Calorie restriction will work for weight management of course, but it’s pretty tough to keep up for life with severe restrictions. Figure out the ballpark range of calories you need to lose, maintain or gain weight, but that’s only part of the equation. A better approach is choosing locally grown, seasonal and whole foods instead of processed or imported products. Learn what’s in season where you live, and challenge yourself to try new fruits, veggies, herbs and even meats (buffalo, antelope and elk are all low-fat, lower calorie options to beef).
4. Make a budget
Financial fitness is just as important as any other type of fitness. No matter how much (or how little) you make, everyone should have a budget. Spend one month tracking all of your spending, from that deli deal you grab at lunch to your matinee movies. You should already know how much income you have each month after taxes. Toy with the budget until you have a surplus that is split between retirement, emergency savings, college savings (if applicable) and a fun fund. You’ll be shocked to see how much money goes to waste.
5. Practice mindfulness
Spiritual health doesn’t need to involve religion or faith, although it certainly can. Promise yourself to feed your spirit once per day, even if it’s just for a few seconds. This can include prayer, affirmations, mindful meditation, or simply learning to treat yourself at least as well as you treat others. Bringing positivity into your life can be an ongoing challenge, but practice brings perfection.
How do you plan to improve your health in 2015? From committing to a zero tolerance approach for drinking under the influence to volunteering more with a project you love, every little act of improvement counts. Every day, and every year, is an opportunity for growth. Whether it’s positive or negative is fully in your hands.
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