With 2020 just a few weeks away, many of us have put broken resolutions firmly behind us. After all, what could be more promising than the prospect of a new year that offers renewed hope for health and happiness, just waiting to be unwrapped come January.
Don’t hold your breath.
Healthy habits don’t need a new year. Instead, take time out to kickstart a few simple changes in the run up to 2020. Twenty days can make a difference – some changes can actually be habit forming!
So be good to yourself – edit some bad health habits in five simple steps.
Walk up a flight of stairs at least once a day or find time to walk at least 15 to 20 mins while listening to your favorite music. Go for a run around the block or on a treadmill; how about a 20 minute bike ride? Even a swim!
Sign up and go to that keep fit/exercise class you’ve been putting off or simply stretch for ten minutes.
Why not? Our bodies were meant to move! The sedentary lifestyles we’ve adopted are compromising our health – “excessive sitting” which most of us are guilty of, is linked to back pain, stress, arthritis, obesity and hypertension – and some more serious illnesses.
So, get physical – it’s our natural state. When was the last time you played fetch with your dog, or tag with your kids or danced round the kitchen table to music you love?
Shake your body out of its default stillness setting – and teach your mind to be still instead.
Cut the Carbs
Year end party food can be a minefield of sugar, salt and soda. Low carb diets work if you are disciplined over the long term – but it’s time to go cold turkey. What do you have to lose but weight, and a boost to your health if you are on the diabetic spectrum?
Just say no to rice, bread, potatoes, pasta and cereal, in the next twenty days – if you miss it that much go ahead – resume your refined carb fest in 2020, but you might surprise yourself by saying goodbye to carbs altogether if you jumpstart it now!
Salads and low carb veggies are a creative and fun alternative and, instead of sweeteners or added salt, simply try to enjoy the natural flavor of food.
Do you fall asleep in front of the TV? And take your cell phone and laptop to bed?
The ayes have it!
You know that using electronic devices at bedtime deter and delay your natural body clock and makes it difficult to fall asleep because your mind is switched on. Skimping on sleep messes with your brain, body, and behavior.
So, create a bedtime routine for at least a week – set a digital curfew, have a warm shower, read a book.
The science says your brain, heart, lungs, muscles and stomach will thank you for it.
Dump the Junk
Make what you eat count.
Look through your home (and office) for your secret stash of cookies, chocolate or comfort food and just toss them out. The relief will be palpable, and your belly a little less bloated!
Say no to snacks, fried foods, sodas, and fruit juice and please don’t eat while standing or driving.
Instead of a TV dinner – sit down to at least one meal in your day and savor it!
Small snacks will tide you over between mealtimes – a handful of nuts, sliced veggies, dried fruit or some cheese.
Try not to eat processed food that presents in a package. Eat clean. Stick to fresh food that won’t harm your health.
Drink more water.
Our body- 60% water. Blood – 90% water. Cartilage- 80% water.
We need water because hydration drives so many human functions that affect our physical and cognitive ability.
A 2% loss of total water content equals dehydration and will cause fatigue, dizziness, muscle cramps, dry skin, difficulty concentrating, bad breath, mood swings, body aches and headaches.
Most adults go through their day partially dehydrated – so if any of these symptoms seem familiar, fix it with a simple glass of water.
Get rid of “stuff’’
As you rid your body of toxins, tie it together with an end-of-year de-clutter.
Don’t go all Marie Kondo on your home unless you really want to – but start small – clean out a shelf, a closet or a room.
Giving a storage space some breathing room is uplifting for the soul and the space in question.
Why? The science says getting rid of stuff is a great de-stressor – it just feels good!
Having fewer things means having fewer choices and making fewer decisions – so you work more efficiently!
Productivity over picking up – what’s not to love?
As 2019 draws to a close – go ahead and indulge in the inevitable bonanza of festivity, feasting and fun – but you may be in better shape to meet the aftermath of partying excess if you begin a health edit now.
A new year of change can begin at any time – use the next twenty days to be good to yourself!
Meera Kymal s a contributing editor at India Currents.
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