Building a healthy lifestyle is, in part, challenging and complex. (I’m looking at you, daily exercise.) But there are also unbelievably simple things we can do to improve our health. Here are 14 small changes you’d be crazy not to add to your list of fitness New Year’s resolutions. These tiny tweaks can pay off big time!
1. Give in to chocolate. Yes, you read that right. In a study of chocolate cravers in Adelaide Australia, the group that was instructed to accept and observe their thoughts about chocolate ate one-third the amount of chocolate as the group instructed to actively change their thoughts about it. Sometimes it pays to embrace your food loves.
2. Eat the egg, yolk and all. If you want to stick to egg whites, that’s okay… but don’t go out of your way just because you think the whole egg’s bad for you. In fact, the yolk is mostly healthy fat and contains additional nutrients like sulfur and the B-complex vitamin choline. Up to 4 whole eggs per week will suit your health just fine, says the Mayo Clinic. One less step in fixing breakfast!
3. Put healthy food on the counter. People will eat what they can grab quickest. Plus, out of sight, out of mind. So if you want to eat more apples and fewer chips (and want your family to do the same), make healthy food convenient and visible, while stashing the junk food in the cupboards.
4. Bake your veggies. Frying vitamin-dense vegetables like carrots, sweet potatoes and butternut squash can reduce their nutritional value by up to 60%. Instead of cooking them with oil on the stove, bake or broil veggies in the oven instead.
5. Get new tunes. Music is a great way to set the pace for a workout because we automatically match the tempo and the vibe. The right playlist can speed up your stride, boost your confidence, and help you find a little more oomph than you thought you had left. And no, you don’t *have* to download “The Final Countdown.” (But word on the street is it works every time.)
6. Stash more protein snacks. Keeping protein bars and snacks at the office or in your car means that on days when you’re rushed, you won’t be at the mercy of fast food. It also means you can head straight to your workout without needing to go home for fuel (where you’ll likely get sidetracked). Stock up!
7. Touch your food. Harvard researchers found that when we interact with our food, we enjoy it more. I like Randy’s idea to start a food preparation ritual with healthy food, like buying carrots you have to peel yourself. (Or the default: pretending your brussel sprouts are airplanes.)
8. Learn one new physical skill. Adding a simple technique to your repertoire, such as learning a correct kettlebell swing, how to jump with low impact or how to massage muscles post-workout, can boost your performance and prevent injury in numerous sports and daily activities. We’re talking a 10-minute investment—including Google time.
9. Wave your hands in the air. Ever forget to stretch? Like, all day? Our body gets compressed during the day (yes: we shrink up to three-quarters of an inch), partly from sitting and standing around. Raising your arms above your head and stretching periodically is a great way to reset, rejuvenate and not feel like a compressed blob. You might even end the day a little taller.
10. Spend $1 more on food a week. Americans reportedly spend less on food than most other countries; we also have a reputation of eating more processed food and less fresh food. Forking out $1 more a week for quality, nutritious ingredients will go a long way, and you won’t likely miss that pocket change.
11. Pick your “cheat” in the morning. You don’t have to eat it in the morning, but by keeping your eyes on a single prize throughout the day, you’re less likely to have one of everything that comes along without realizing it.
12. Drink an extra glass of water after exercise. It’s a common habit to toss the water bottle once the workout is over, but it’s important to continue hydrating. Not only will it help you replenish fluids, but it can stave off exercise-induced food cravings. (I don’t know about you, but I always get disproportionately hungry after cardio.)
13. Ask friends to bring healthy side dishes. Why is it that most party guests feel inclined to bring sweets? Change the norm! Next time you host, give your guests a nudge or even a few specific healthy ideas, and suddenly that buffet table full of pies will be a smorgasbord of squash stews and spinach salads.
14. Pay for that workout now. No one likes to waste money. So if there’s an option to buy all 10 classes now or sign up for a full year at the gym, for heaven’s sake, rope yourself in! If you’re like me, then those month-to-month or per-class deals are a pretty great way to only go once before falling off the wagon.
I hope you’ve enjoyed these 14 Fitness New Year’s Resolutions (and what do you think, are they easy?). Print this out and stick it somewhere you’re likely to take action on it!