Giving in to sugar cravings and letting laziness run my life was something I was very guilty of. Year after year, I’ve promised myself to make big changes once New Year’s Eve is over. Needless to say, I’ve failed all these time. But last year was surprisingly different for me, mostly because I’ve changed my approach to healthy living. Just to let you in on my little secret, here are seven ways I’ve managed to be in my best health as the year went by.
Eat a lot, but watch what you eat
Most of us tried losing weight by eating less thinking this was the best diet plan out there. But the ineffectiveness of dieting for weight loss is more than obvious and even scientifically debunked. Instead of torturing myself with crash diets, I’ve decided to eat as much as a like but was picky with what I ate. Switching to a plant-based and low-fat diet was a life-saver for me. Most weight gain comes from too much saturated fat, refined carbs, and empty calorie which you won’t find in diets rich in fruits, veggies, and whole grains.
Exercise when you feel like it
Most exercise recommendations state that adults need at least 150 minutes of aerobic activity a week to stay in shape. But as you probably already know, sticking to an exercise regimen can seem like a chore. With all the other things you need to do in life, exercising regularly is torture. Instead of making strict exercising schedules, why not exercise when you feel like it? The way I’ve managed to make exercising fun and approachable is by simply stretching after a day at work, brisk walking to the store, and hitting the gym every other weekend. In this way, exercising seemed like a past time activity that I could enjoy once I’ve completed my other chores.
Consider the power of superfoods
Not all foods are created equal. Some foods are packed with beneficial nutrients and antioxidants. Including these foods into my daily diet was the best thing I’ve ever done for my health. Broccoli, goji berries, nuts, flaxseeds, oatmeal, and many other superfoods should be a part of your daily diet. Not only will they provide you with the nutrients your body so desperately needs, but they’ll also boost your health and functioning. And if like me, you work at a job where you need to maintain your focus and mental agility, these are considered one of the best brain foods out there, especially if they’re rich in antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids.
Mental health matters
Everyone who is exposed to overwhelming levels of stress will inevitably suffer the consequences. Studies show that anxiety and depression are commonly a result of too much stress. While mental problems are treatable and manageable, most people don’t seek treatment. Don’t be one of those people. Panic attacks, depression, and a lack of energy can make a living and functioning difficult. I know this because I’ve been there. Instead of blaming myself for my mental anguish, I’ve decided to take my mental health seriously by seeking help.
Nature as cure
Another promise I made to myself last year was to spend more time in nature — the reason is obvious that it’s healthy and stress-relieving. A strong motivating factor for this decision was a Japanese study that I’ve read which found that people who spent time in nature had a 56% increase in natural killer cell activity. Natural killer cells are critical for normal immune system functioning, and they prevent cancer.
Learn to let go
When you hear talks on health and fitness, the emphasis always seems to be on discipline and control. But humans are by nature lazy and going against my nature was sabotaging my health and happiness. Instead, I’ve learned to let go of the expectations I’ve had of myself and decided to practice being compassionate towards myself. I have to emphasize that yoga has helped a great deal with this.
Sleep is not for the weak
I find it a bit baffling how getting adequate sleep is portrayed like a luxury these days while research obviously shows that sleep deprivation could kill you. Not getting enough sleep is linked to diabetes, heart disease, weight gain, and even cancer. Getting eight hours of beauty sleep is non-negotiable to me. So, don’t let daily hassles ruin your opportunities to get your well-deserved rest if you really want to take your health seriously.
Almost everyone wants to make their health a priority with the turn of a new year. But, obviously, not everyone manages to keep their promises. The trick to sticking to your New Year’s resolution is making a plan that is not only good for your health but also enjoyable. I’ve learned this after years of trying to set all things aside and cherish what is most precious in life – health.