It’s that time of year again – many people have officially given up on their well-intentioned New Year’s resolutions. They might blame themselves, or chalk it up to life’s hassles getting in the way. Either way, they end up going back to their old, tired habits. Maybe now is the perfect time to introduce a new tradition, one that coincides with the optimism of spring: a resolution to refresh.
New Year’s resolutions tend to be severe and sterile: lose 25 pounds, exercise every day, cut out sugar. March is a perfect time to rethink those harsh resolutions and take a kinder, gentler approach. Here are five ideas to get you started, all with the theme of refreshing your health.
Drink more water. Detox diets are so last year. Your body is already well-equipped to detox itself, but one of the best tools you can provide it is plenty of water. Keeping your body well-hydrated helps your blood dilute potentially harmful substances, carrying them to the liver for processing and to the kidneys to flush them away. Water also helps flush harmful substances away through the gastrointestinal, or GI, tract, keeping you regular and preventing constipation. Resolve to make water your beverage of choice, and to drink plenty of it throughout the day.
Add color to your diet. Adding bright orange, green, red, purple and yellow fruits and vegetables to your plate is one of the best ways to improve your overall diet. The research supporting a plant-based diet is simply staggering, and we can all benefit from adding more color to our plate with produce. Resolve to add at least one fruit or vegetable to each meal and snack.
Get your sweat on. There’s a popular fitness meme I’ve come to adore that says, “I run to burn off the crazies.” Indeed, exercise is one of the best ways to combat the effects of stress and boost your mood. Shift your thinking this month to focus on exercising for health-related benefits, such asimproved sleep, better blood pressure control or more flexibility, rather than focusing on exercise just for weight loss. Studies have shown this helps make exercise more enjoyable, and thus sustainable. Resolve to get a good sweat on most days to help bring a surge of oxygen-rich blood to your muscles and brain and burn off those stress hormones.
Give yourself a break (or several). Recent research shows decreasing the amount of time we spend sitting may be very beneficial to our health. One study found blood pressure was decreased when subjects got up and walked for 2 minutes every 20 minutes, while another study found people withdiabetes were better able to control blood sugar when prolonged sitting was broken up with short bursts of walking. Resolve to take frequent, short breaks during the day to simply get up and move.
Step away from the scale. Self-weighing is a common practice that many people use to assess their weight-loss progress and keep an eye out for weight gain. However, research has shown that in some populations, such as women and younger individuals, frequent self-weighing may do more harm than good, creating lower self-esteem and more body image problems. When this happens, the best approach is to simply step away from the scale. Instead, put the focus on doing things that support health, such as eating a healthy diet, getting daily exercise and getting enough sleep. Focusing on health, rather than weight, can be healing for someone who struggles with body issues, and just plain relieving for others who dread the daily weigh in. Resolve to take the focus off the number on the scale and put it on the activities that enhance your health.