13 Dec HOW TO HAVE A HEALTHIER 2018 BY KARRIE HAHN, M.A, Certified Health Coach
New Year’s Resolutions—people either love them or hate them. Oftentimes, people make grandiose resolutions that are rarely sustained beyond February, and the majority of resolutions are abandoned altogether. After all, we know ourselves, right? Good intentions often falter in the midst of everything else that vies for our attention.
Yet there is something between perfection and giving up completely—we can simply seek to do better this year than last year. We may take some steps forward and some steps backward, but if we determine to make small, consistent changes, we often gain a lot more traction than if we go for the grand changes and give up after a month. With that in mind, here are some small and simple ideas for how to have a healthier 2018.
TRY 1 NEW FRUIT OR VEGETABLE EVERY WEEK (OR EVERY MONTH).
This is a very easy way to make positive strides in your diet with minimal effort. You can choose the “advanced” track of one new fruit or vegetable per week, or if that seems like too much, try one new fruit and one new vegetable per month. Even with the monthly plan, that’s 24 new fruits and vegetables in 2018! Maybe you’ll find you love roasted fennel or rutabaga. Maybe plantain slices cooked on the stove will become your new favorite food. This is a flexible plan as well. For example, you can add raw kale to a banana smoothie, or you can cook it and make kale chips. Even if the fruit or vegetable isn’t completely new to you, you’ll be mindfully adding into your diet the wonderful benefits of phytonutrients.
Some people love to work out and exercise. Some like to but feel as though they don’t have time. Others simply don’t like the thought of exercise. For those of you with an aversion to the concept of “exercising” at a gym or club, the important thing is this: move more. This can be as simple as parking further away from work or stores to get in some extra walking. It could mean a 10-15 minute walk after lunch and/or dinner (which has the added benefit of helping to regulate blood sugar after eating). It could mean lifting some free weights or stretching while you watch Netflix at night. The important thing is simply to move more, and by incorporating some of these simple ideas, you’ll be moving more in 2018 than you did this year.
The importance of sleep for the human body could be an article (or book) all its own. Suffice to say, we need to do everything we can to sleep as well as we can. This is where technology can be a drawback—TVs, computers, tablets, and cell phones emit blue light. What’s the problem with blue light? It sends signals to your brain that it’s daytime and inhibits the production of melatonin at night. The best advice is to power down devices by sunset. However, since that’s not what most of us will choose to do, there are some other options. Many phones have a “night shift” mode that allows you to set the color temperature to “more warm.” Schedule the shift from sundown to sunup to avoid some of that blue light from your phone. Also, free programs like f.lux can be installed on your computer, which changes the display to warmer colors rather than the blue light. A third option is to purchase blue-light-blocking glasses (which have orange lenses). You simply wear them after the sun goes down before you go to bed.
The important thing to remember is to try what you think works best for you and what you need to focus on most. Maybe you’ll choose all three ideas; maybe you’ll just choose one. You’re not competing with anyone else, so no pressure! With just a little bit of thought and effort, you can easily make 2018 a bit healthier than 2017, and as these become habits, you’ll be headed in a healthy direction for the future!