Even for those of us who aren’t big on New Year’s resolutions, the beginning of a new calendar year marks a clean slate — and that’s always a good feeling. Most New Year’s resolutions fail pretty early on in the year anyway, and it’s often because we’re a little overzealous with our goals and feel like giving up entirely if we slip up. Instead of setting a rigid resolution, we suggest trying the strategy of integrating new habits that will improve your overall physical health into your daily routine.
Although these habits and changes should be taken seriously (we’re talking about health, after all), small overall changes make it easier to move on after a bad day. If you slip up on one habit, you don’t need to feel like a failure — just look at the successes of the day. Not sure where to start? We’ve got you covered with some ideas that will result in a healthier body.
1. Keep tabs on your coffee intake
Dr. Garth Graham, a cardiologist and president of the Aetna Foundation, recommends swapping out one cup of coffee a day for a glass of water.
“Coffee is the go-to drink for most individuals in the morning, but several cups a day can have negative health effects,” Graham tells SheKnows. For example, he explains that drinking too much coffee (and other caffeinated drinks) can result in a rise in blood pressure.
2. Address the cause of any unexplained symptoms
It’s common for doctors to treat visible symptoms like fatigue, weight gain, irregular menstrual cycles and insomnia without diagnosing the root cause of the problem, physician Dr. Raphael Kellman, author of Microbiome Medicine and founder of the Kellman Center for Integrative and Functional Medicine, tells SheKnows. “[But] many health issues stem from an unhealthy microbiome, and it is important to improve its condition to mitigate or even eliminate the resulting symptoms,” he explains.
Even if you’re just feeling “off,” Kellman says there’s a strong chance your microbiome isn’t working at its optimal level. He recommends meeting with a microbiome specialist who can help you outline a plan to improve your health, which will typically include adjusting your diet and exercise and taking daily supplements.
3. Start taking daily probiotics & prebiotics
“If you do just one thing to start the new year right, incorporate high-quality probiotics and prebiotics into your daily routine,” Kellman explains. Doing so will balance your microbiome, which will alleviate symptoms you’re currently dealing with and help ward off future illnesses.
4. Wear sunscreen every day
Dr. Tsippora Shainhouse, a board-certified dermatologist who runs a private practice in Los Angeles, emphasizes the importance of wearing sunscreen every single day of the year — not just when you’re hitting the beach for a day in the sun.
“It’s important to recognize that UV rays are present whenever there is daylight. They pass through clouds, reflect off of water, snow, ice and sand,” Shainhouse tells SheKnows. “UVA rays even pass through window glass when you think that you are safe in your car or at your window-facing desk in your office.”
Shainhouse recommends wearing a daily broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. Doing so will minimize the damage of UV rays and, by doing so, reduce your risk of developing skin cancer. Plus, it’ll help keep your skin looking young — so it’s really a win-win.
5. Eat more fruits & vegetables
Losing weight is a popular New Year’s resolution — but Dr. Nieca Goldberg, a physician and medical director of the Joan H. Tisch Center for Women’s Health at New York University Langone Medical Center, suggests taking the focus off the number on the scale. Instead, think about adding healthier foods to your diet. “Replace processed foods that are high in salt and carbs with healthier options,” Goldberg tells SheKnows.
She recommends a heart-healthy diet, which will be rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat protein. Goldberg gives the following example of what a day on this diet might look like:
- Steel-cut oatmeal and one-half cup of berries for breakfast
- Apple slices with peanut butter or hummus and carrots for a midmorning snack
- Lunch and dinner plates that are some variation of lean protein, like grilled chicken or salmon along with a salad
So there you have it — cheers to making 2019 your healthiest year yet.