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12 Secrets to a healthier you

It takes 21 days to break a habit. If you’re looking to make 2013 your year, here are 12 suggestions — one for each month — that you can take on board to create a better you.

Change your life in 2013

It takes 21 days to break a habit. If you’re looking to make 2013 your year, here are 12 suggestions — one for each month — that you can take on board to create a better you.

The new year has begun and chances are the resolve you had for all those resolutions has well and truly worn off. If you’re feeling a little disillusioned and ready for a change then it’s time to grab 2013 by the horns and make it a year you’ll remember.

If you’re ready to make some positive changes to your life, all you need is 21 days. While there’s no hard science to the 21-days-to-break-a-habit rule, it’s a good starting point, suggest the creators of 21 Days, Jacqui and Stella.

“Bringing awareness to making a change is essential to your success and 21 days is manageable,” they say. “If you’re trying to break a habit you’re more likely to succeed if you’re not imposing a lifelong ban on yourself.”

So if you’re feeling overwhelmed, ready for a change, disconnected from yourself or loved ones, or you simply want a little more joy in life, it’s time to make a start, say Jacqui and Stella. “Start small to build your innate strength and then onwards and upwards to bigger challenges. Find support in friends, family or through online networks and be kind to yourself — if you stumble keep on moving forward because you will succeed.”

So if you’re ready to create a healthier, happy you, read on. We’ve got 12 tips that will help you create some positive habits this year.

January: Eat breakfast

Sure, you’ve heard it before, but eating breakfast is important so if you’re not already on the brekkie bandwagon it’s time to hop aboard.

“Breakfast is the first meal of the day and is critical for establishing your metabolic foundation for the day and balancing your blood sugars,” says nutrition coach Sonia Osborne.

“What and when you eat breakfast are equally important. Meals should be 40 per cent protein, 40 per cent carbs and 20 per cent fats from foods that are as close to nature as possible,” believes Sonia. Try scrambled eggs with mushrooms or, if you’re in a hurry, a smoothie packed with protein and other vitamins.

February: Get a good night’s sleep

When you’re busy and juggling a dozen different balls, sleep is often one of the first things to be sacrificed. But getting a good night’s sleep is one of the easiest things to do, says physiotherapist Jason Smith, author of Get Yourself Back In Motion.

“When it comes to sleep both quality and quantity matter,” says Jason. “Sleep loss is cumulative and the negative effects of sleep deprivation include weight gain, mood swings, lack of motivation and concentration, a reduced immune system and a low tolerance to stress.”

Jason suggests planning to get a good eight hours sleep a night. “Avoid caffeine and alcohol, stick to a consistent bedtime and establish a ritual that makes you feel sleepy,” he advises.

March: Eat some superfoods

“Superfoods” are all the rage right now, with kale-eating celebrities on every corner. But you don’t need to hit your local health food hangout for foods that will benefit your body. Oily fish, berries, broccoli, ginger and tea are all great superfoods you can find at your local supermarket. Try to incorporate one each week as part of a healthy diet and the results will speak for themselves.

April: Take care of your skin

The skin is your largest organ and is well worth looking after. Not only will having beautiful skin make you look more radiant, but taking care of it will also help maintain your health and ability to fight off topical infections.

Coconut oil is a great way to help keep your skin looking its best. “Moisturise all over with coconut oil every day and you’ll create a true circle of wellness,” says Megan Knight of Natural Surrender. “Taking coconut oil internally as well will help fast-track the improvement of your skin,” she suggests.

May: Repair relationships

Whether it’s an ex you need to forgive and forget or a family member who rubs you the wrong way, make 2013 the year to repair any toxic relationships you might have.

“Repairing a relationship takes courage, love and patience,” says Julie-Anne Black of Be Brilliant Now ( “First, ask yourself whether you’re in or out. If you’re out, open the doors and jump. If you’re in, it’s time to close the doors, batten down the hatches and be in for good and bad,” she says.

Accept what has happened as part of your life history, not your future, suggests Julie-Anne. “Forgive yourself for the role you played in creating the situation and remember that you are the director of your thoughts and you get to choose the cast for your own life so choose wisely.”

June: Beat those wrinkles

Wrinkles are a sign of dehydrated skin and dehydrated skin is skin that needs a little loving to look its best.

While we’re not suggesting Botox there are things you can do to age gracefully. To reduce wrinkles you can drink more water, moisturise each day, stay out of the sun and eat a diet rich in antioxidants. You don’t need to spend a fortune on fancy treatments — simple remedies such as coconut oil and common sense will work wonders.

July: Stop over-eating

Winter is here and with it come cozy nights on the sofa cuddled up with your favourite comfort food. But if you want your body to perform at its best, try to curb the comfort eating over winter.

According to research published in the Nutrition & Metabolism journal, just one month of overeating and being less active can have weight gain effects that last for years. Experts at the Dieticians Association of Australia suggest choosing comfort foods wisely.

“Try porridge with reduced-fat milk and fruit, and slow-cooked casseroles made with lean meat and vegetables,” they advise.

“Piping hot drinks are a great way to stay warm, but use reduced-fat milk and limit added sugar and make sure you lighten up desserts — try a baked apple with reduced-fat custard.”

August: Laugh more

Laughter is one of the few activities which can change the chemistry of the whole body. It has the power to quickly recharge your energy levels, it generates a wealth of healing biochemical compounds and it helps to circulate lymph fluids and boosts your body’s ability to fight infection, says Gregory Ferret, author of Monday Motivational Minute.

“When you laugh you generate a wealth of healing biochemical compounds. One short burst of laughter can produce the life-saving chemicals which drug companies sell for thousands of dollars,” he says.

Laughing is a serious matter so do yourself a favour and laugh more this month. Join a laughter club, tickle your children, stock up on funny stories. Whatever it takes to get a good giggle.

September: Get moving

Moving your body is important not just for your physical health but for your mental health as well.

“We’ve become a sedentary culture,” says Jason Smith, author of Get Yourself Back In Motion. “The increasing incidence of obesity, heart disease and diabetes are fatal testaments to this being true but the good news is that getting moving is much easier than you think.”

Jason suggests playing with your kids, walking your dog, dancing while you clean the house and taking the stairs as great starting points to get you up and active before summer.

October: Drink more water

Summer is coming and chances are you’ve slipped into some slightly-less-than-ideal hydration habits over winter. So it’s time to ditch the morning coffee and replace it with a glass of water instead.

We all know we need to drink more water — it’s just one of those things. It’s great for your insides as well as being a major player in creating healthy hair and skin. Try to drink at least eight 250-millilitre glasses a day — more if you’re exercising or pregnant.

November: Take care of your hair

As you head into summer it’s time to think about how you’re going to keep your luscious locks well nourished. Damien Gerard, celebrity stylist, suggests making Argan and macadamia oil part of your hair care routine this month.

“Argan and macadamia oil are both must-have ingredients this summer as they are nutrient-rich — helping to strengthen and hydrate your hair — and are natural UV protectants,” he says. “For parched hair, take a couple of minutes each week to indulge your locks in a macadamia oil and keep Argan oil on hand as a protecting serum that will lock in moisture while imparting shine,” he advises.

December: Be charitable

We all know December is the month of giving but this December why not try to avoid giving for the sake of it and do something charitable instead.

“Happiness is not something that just happens — it’s a decision,” says Danielle Baker, mindset specialist at Ellevate Coaching.

“What better way to decide to be happy at the end of another year than to put others first. You will be rewarded with lightness of spirit, of mind and of heart,” she says.

Create a hamper for the old lady down the road, give a fresh pillow and blanket to a homeless person or pay for the person behind you in the drive-through. Try to do something nice every day and your heart will thank you for it.

More motivational tips

Take back your coffee break
Making positive changes
Hobbies that will make you a better person

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