Top Tips for Creating a Healthier You This Year

July 7, 2016

Chances are good that just months ago you made a strict New Year’s resolution to improve your health. Maybe you were planning to eat better, join a gym, or lose a certain amount of weight. If, like many of us, your devotion to your resolution has fizzled out by now, take the time to reassess and form healthy habits, rather than focus on one broad goal.

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Most resolutions fail because individuals approach them with an all-or-nothing mindset. Losing 10 pounds is a great goal, but failing to define a plan or set habits to achieve it will quickly leave you feeling discouraged. Set yourself up for a lifetime of success by implementing good habits rather than striving for impossible goals. Focus on these three aspects of daily life to improve your health inside and out:

1. Health Is More Than Skin Deep

Schedule your annual gynecological checkup, especially if you are over the age of 30. Pelvic and breast exams, Pap smears, and HPV tests can be uncomfortable, but they are essential for identifying health risks like cervical cancer. Use best practices for each of these procedures. For example, avoid having sex or using vaginal medications for at least 24-48 hours before a Pap smear, and try to perform a breast self-examination every month.

You are your own health advocate! Scan your health records onto a hard drive, and place copies in a well-organized binder to bring with you to appointments so your doctors can stay in the loop. And if you’ve experienced any symptoms that could point to a larger problem, bring them up! Sudden changes in your body such as frequent urination and bloating could be early signs of ovarian cancer.

2. It’s the Little Things That Count

Taking care of yourself doesn’t have to mean running a marathon. There are several little habits you can add to your day to improve your overall health.

Stop draining yourself of energy by watching that one last Netflix episode. Instead, set a bedtime — and stick to it. Plan to sleep for a good eight or nine hours, and start turning off your electronics an hour before you go to sleep.

Social interaction is also crucial to your health. Life gets busy, but research shows that a lack of social bonds can be as damaging as a lack of exercise, so if you’re feeling lonely, reach out to your loved ones, set a time to catch up, and spend some time together.

3. Treat Yourself to Healthier Food Habits 

Many of us plan to eat well but fail when faced with our favorite comfort foods. Eating healthy doesn’t have to mean giving those foods up. Learn to cook your favorite treats with healthier substitutes. They’ll taste nearly identical, and you’ll feel better. Add magnesium-rich foods like spinach to help lower blood sugar and insulin levels, manage your weight, and maintain nearly 300 other functions in your body.

If you do accidentally overindulge, foods like asparagus, avocado, quinoa, ginger, or lemons can help you debloat because they rid the body of sodium and excess fluids. You can also try probiotics like yogurt, kombucha, kimchi, or kefir. If none of those work, there’s always yoga.

Try to avoid the hidden calories in alcohol; a single serving of beer, wine, or liquor can add more than 125 calories to your daily intake. Not only does alcohol add unnecessary calories itself, but women are also susceptible to overeating when they’ve ingested alcohol because their brain chemistry amplifies food smells.

We only get one body in this life, so take care of yours by making incremental, positive changes. Make sure you are setting realistic goals for yourself, and cultivate healthy habits you can stick with. Instead of an all-or-nothing mentality, take it one week at a time, and use this holistic approach to achieve realistic and measurable goals. You’ll look and feel great for years to come.