1. Take the 10,000 Step Challenge.
Many of us start the New Year with grandiose goals of joining a gym or taking up a Zumba class. Before too long we find that the gym workout has rendered our muscles too sore to get out of bed, or we come to the embarrassing realization that we look more like a rabid monkey, than a sexy Zumba dancer! So we do the natural thing. We quit.
There is an easier way to get fit, that takes much less work, and very little motivation or time commitment from you: take more steps each day. The average person takes between 3000 and 4000 steps per day, however research shows that you can significantly improve your health by increasing that number to 10,000 steps per day. One way to ensure that you are getting enough steps is to wear a pedometer, like the one found HERE . These are inexpensive devices, which can be bought for less than $10, that can keep track of your steps, distance traveled and calories burned.
Even if you do not have a dedicated walking practice, there are plenty of ways to increase your steps each day. For example:
-Our tendency is to find a parking spot as close to our destination as possible. Instead, try parking as far away from the building as you can.
-Take the stairs, rather than an elevator.
-If your work requires long periods of sitting, get up more often to take a bathroom break, get a drink from the water cooler, or just stretch your legs.
-Rather than veg out in front of your t.v. or computer at home, get up and move around. Doing simple household chores like sweeping the floor will get you moving.
-If you are not the outdoorsy type, you can walk away the pounds without ever leaving your home by following a walking workout DVD such as my favorite, Leslie Sansone.
(Click on pic for Amazon link.)
2. Drink More Water.
We all KNOW how important it is to drink plenty of water in order to keep our bodies hydrated, aid in weight loss, and flush out toxins, so why aren’t we all doing it? For many people, they have just not made it a habit. The simple way to form a new habit is to do it consistently for 21 days straight; after that, you don’t even have to think about it. Here are some tips to get you started on your healthy water habit:
-Go out and buy a new water bottle, one that is visually appealing to you, and has a snap on lid to avoid spills. Just seeing this water bottle will remind you to drink more. If it is plastic, make sure it is BPA free, or opt for a glass or stainless steel bottle.
-If you drink tap water, be sure that it is filtered. Even a simple Brita filter will remove most of the chlorine and other toxins from your water.
-You can drastically improve the health boosting power of your water by adding the juice of a half a freshly squeezed lemon to at least one bottle of water per day.
3. Eat More Fruits and Veggies.
When we think about healthy eating, it is usually our tendency to focus on what we CAN’T eat. “I will have to give up junk food”; “No more burgers for me,”; “I will really miss my sweets!” Rather than think about what you have to give up, consider ADDING more healthy foods to your diet. For example, if you generally serve one veggie as a side with your meals, increase it to two or three. Adding colorful choices like broccoli and diced carrots will also make your meal look more appetizing! As an added bonus, by increasing the amount of veggies on your plate, you will likely not have room for large portions of meat or high carb foods……either on your plate, or in your belly!
One simple way to get an instant boost of health-promoting fruits and veggies is by starting your day with a smoothie. Here is my fave smoothie recipe:
-1 cup frozen mixed fruits and berries
-1/2 cup fresh greens, such as spinach or kale
-1 tablespoon chia seeds (these little power houses contain as much healthy Omega 3’s as five fish oil capsules!)
-1 to 1 ½ cups unsweetened almond milk (almond milk contains as much calcium as cow’s milk, with less fat and zero cholesterol.)
Blend on high until smooth and BAM! Four servings of fruits and veggies to start your day.
4. Just Breathe.
As a Psychologist, I promote the stress-busting practice of abdominal breathing exercises to all of my clients. I once had a client say to me, “Hey, I don’t believe in that deep breathing stuff. I tried it once, and I still felt stressed out after that!” To which I responded, “That’s like saying to me: I don’t believe in exercise. I went for a walk once and I am still fat.” Deep breathing is an exercise, and like any form of exercise, it will only be effective if practiced on a regular basis.
Stress is related to many illnesses in the body, and one of the best things you can do to cope with stress is to practice deep breathing exercises on a daily basis. Here is how it is done: place one hand on your belly button, and the other just above it. Take a deep breath in through your nose, and feel your hands rise, like you are filling a balloon with air. (This might take some practice as many people suck their belly in on the in breath.) Now gently breathe out through your mouth, feeling your hands fall, like air is being let out of a balloon in your belly. Aim for 5 to 10 deep breaths, at least twice per day. This can be done while sitting at your desk, watching t.v. or before going to sleep. As your body becomes accustomed to the relaxation response, you will find that as little as 3 deep breaths can calm you in the most stressful of situations!
Just for today, take one of these healthy living habits and make it your own. When it has become habitual to you, take on another. Before you know it, you will be a mean, lean, healthy machine!
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