We all want to live a healthier lifestyle, but so many of us think it’s far out of reach. These 15 things are easy changes to make to improve your health and, ultimately, your happiness.
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Wear a pedometer
A pedometer is a little device that records how far you’ve walked, run or biked. Buy a watch or bracelet model that communicates with your smartphone, and it will transmit tons of data to an app that can show you everything from how far you’ve walked to how many calories you’ve burned.
Keep a journal
Bottling up negative thoughts can damage your health. That’s not just pop psychology mumbo jumbo, either. University of Texas researcher and psychologist James Pennebaker says that regular journaling strengthens immune cells (T-lymphocytes).
Take a deep breath
Believe it or not, most of us don’t know how to breathe properly. Athletes are often coached to fill their lungs to full capacity (rather than the one-third capacity most of us use). And doing it wrong can cause tension and exhaustion and even encourage aches and illness.
To take a full breath, make sure your lungs are completely full and your abdomen expands, but make sure there’s not too much shoulder movement.
Ban negative body-image chatter
Don’t say it. Don’t think it. About yourself or anyone else. Ragging on yourself (or anyone) for not looking like Kate Upton (who also doesn’t really look like Photoshopped-to-perfection Kate Upton) can lead to a distorted view of what you really look like. The only thing you’re accomplishing is to make yourself feel like you aren’t worthy of positive changes and reinforce that your value is based on your looks.
Eat more often
To boost your metabolism, eat five meals a day instead of three. Your caloric intake for each meal should be lower than for a repast during a three-meal day. Make sure your diet is rich in the right amounts of lean protein, whole grains, fresh vegetables, fruits and low-fat dairy options.
Go raw vegan
Being a vegan doesn’t automatically mean you’re healthier. That said, those of us who are meat-and-potatoes addicts could learn a thing or two from the animal-edibles-free. If you have a raw vegan lunch at least three times per week, you’ll cut out loads of fat and calories (and make sure you get your veggies).
Make your own meals
If you cook your own food using unprocessed foods, you can control the fat, salt, sugar and other things you want to avoid.
Focus on color
When choosing fruits and veggies, pick out a variety of colors. This ensures you’re getting a variety of nutrients.
Shorten your weekly workout time
If you’ve been doubling up on your cardio and still can’t seem to lose that last pesky 10 pounds, overstraining yourself could be to blame. Your body can plateau if it doesn’t have adequate time to recover.
Choose your friends
People with healthier friends are more likely to make healthier decisions. It’s easy for someone to make little dents in your healthy lifestyle, like encouraging you to share a sugary dessert, skip a workout in favor of watching a movie and more.
Play video games
Games that require physical activity are best, but many video games improve your eyesight, increase your dexterity and speed up your reflexes. More intense games that require concentration can even distract you from pain.
Take classes like dance, tennis or karate to get yourself moving and improve your confidence. You’ll meet new people, which will encourage you to get your exercise if for no other reason than to socialize.
Make food substitutions
If the thought of dieting gives you cold sweats, just make substitutions. Use Neufchatel instead of cream cheese, 2 percent cheese instead of full-fat cheese, low-sodium options instead of regular, brown rice instead of white and so on.
Sit up straight
Good posture doesn’t just make you look more confident (and slimmer in certain outfits). It also helps you breathe properly and prevents health complications like back pain, pressure inside your chest and poor circulation.
Choose snacks that are low in fat (less than a third of their calories are from fat) and high in nutrients. We like Luna Chocolate Peppermint Sticks, which are available at Target. In addition to getting less than a third of their calories from fat, they are high in calcium, folic acid and antioxidants. They also have 8 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber per serving.