We typically focus on building new habits at the New Year when it's cold and motivation can be difficult to find, but spring is a time of renewal and so why not take some time to set ourselves up for success now?
Lack of sleep can affect every part of your life - your mood, your appetite, reaction time, and even your weight. Make it a habit to go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time in the mornings. This helps to get your body into a steady rhythm and holds you accountable. Also, make sure that you're going to bed at a reasonable time and not staying up too late. Studies show that those who go to bed too late and sleep in are less active throughout the day and gain weight more than those who get up earlier.
MAKE TIME FOR MEALS AT HOME.
One of the best things we can do to take ownership of our health is to put time into preparing meals. When we take time to prepare meals at home with family and friends, we are much more thoughtful about what we are making and eating, which is something we often don't do when picking up food in the drive-thru. This also helps to create a normal routine, and you're more likely to eat well at lunch the next day if you have leftovers you can easily pack.
When we eat at home with others, we are also more likely to focus on the food and how we eat. When we are mindful with each bite, it allows us to slow down and enjoy our meal, which can further assist with portion control.
MAKE PHYSICAL ACTIVITY A PART OF YOUR NORMAL ROUTINE.
We all know that physical activity is important to our overall health - mental, physical, and emotional - so make being active a part of your day. Regular exercise can help us feel better, lose and maintain weight, and help prevent many types of chronic diseases. When we are regularly active, we tend to feel good from the inside out, as it helps us build confidence and de-stress.
EAT MORE FRUITS AND VEGETABLES.
It is recommended that we get at least 4servings of fruit and 5servings of vegetables each day. On average, Americans are only getting 1serving of fruit and 1.7 servings of veggies each day. Fruits and vegetables are essential to obtain optimal health because they contain vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber and other nutrients that support the body's everyday functions. For example, fiber is particularly important because it can help prevent cardiovascular disease and obesity.
Work on adding a serving each day for a week and gradually add more into your routine. It also helps to find ways you enjoy those foods. For example, if you enjoy eating yogurt, mix some fruit in. Or, if you're making a pasta dish, cut up a zucchini and add it in with your meat and sauce. You'll have the recommended servings (and perhaps a few extra!) in no time.
DRINK PLENTY OF WATER.
The cold hard truth is that sugary drinks are empty calories and can have negative effects on our health. Drinking water is not only important to prevent dehydration (especially as we settle into warmer months) but it also is vital for your body to function properly. If you're a coffee drinker (or have another go-to caffeinated beverage in the mornings), try challenging yourself to drink 24 ounces of water before indulging. It can also be hand to keep a water bottle or cup with you throughout the day so that you always have water readily available.
PRACTICE MEDITATION AND OTHER DE-STRESS METHODS.
Mental wellness is just as important as one's physical wellness, and the past year has really put a strain on staying mentally well. Make sure that you are taking time to unwind and relax each day, as chronic stress can lead to chronic illnesses. If you're looking for ways to de-stress, try practicing breathing techniques, meditating, or even taking a walk and simply enjoying nature. It's harder to care for others if we're not caring for ourselves, so make sure that you set this time aside regularly!