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Develop Healthy Habits for the New Year!

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Treadmill womanWith 2012 quickly coming to an end many people are looking ahead to year 2013. The start of a new year usually instills in us a feeling of new beginnings and second chances. The New Year provides us with a definitive day of getting rid of the old and bringing in the new. With the ongoing feasts during the holidays and less time to work out many people choose “getting in shape and losing weight” as their New Years Resolution. This year I encourage you to incorporate healthy habits into your life and skip the dieting. Studies have shown diets are usually not successful in the long term and can leave you feeling frustrated and discouraged. Instead, focus on including more healthy habits into your daily life to help you achieve a healthy weight. Everyone is different and what works for one person does not necessarily mean it will work for another. Experiment with different habits to see what works for you. Here are some ideas to begin incorporating in the New Year.

Eat 5 Servings of Fruits and Vegetables Daily– Fruits and vegetables provide your body vitamins and minerals to help your body function properly. A serving of a fruit or vegetable is considered about 1 cup of raw or 1/2 cup cooked. These nutrient powerhouses provide fiber which help you feel more full and leave you less likely to grab a bag of chips or a cookie.

Include at least 30 Minutes of Moderate Physical Activity Daily– The benefits of physical activity are endless. Physical activity has been shown to help improve cardiovascular function, elevate your mood, decrease risk of cancer, help regulate your blood sugar, and reduce the rate of bone and muscle loss associated with aging. If you are currently not including physical activity in your daily routine, start with 10 minutes a day and work your way up. If you are already completing 30 minutes a day, challenge yourself to increase to 1 hour.

Aim to Cook More Meals at Home– With our busy lifestyles sometimes it can be difficult to prepare home cooked meals. Try to look for recipes that only take 15-30 minutes to prepare. Check out my blog Menu Planning for tips on how to plan for success. By eating home more you will have more control of the food you are eating, save money, and most likely reduce your intake of extra calories, fat and salt.

Volunteer– Even though volunteering might not be a healthy habit for your body, it is a healthy habit for your well being. Volunteering can provide you with sense of purpose and gratitude which is very important in developing a healthy lifestyle.

Try a New Class or Sport– Lots of us can get stuck in our routines and lack the desire to try new things. Trying something new can increase your confidence and you might even make some new friends. Be on the lookout for a new dance, yoga, hiking, cycling, or martial arts class that you might be interested in. These are also great ways to move your body without feeling like you are exercising.

Pay Attention to Your Hunger Cues– Begin listening to your body and start to understand when you are hungry or when you are full. Lots of us eat mindlessly and do not realize when our body is full. An easy way to start paying attention to your hunger cues is to not eat in front of screens such as TV’s, tablets, computers or cell phones. These devices can distract us. I encourage people to stop eating when they are 3/4 full.

Carry Snacks on You– Having healthy snacks on hand is a great strategy to curb hunger when it is not meal time. This helps prevent you from overeating during meals, and is a great opportunity to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your diet. See 21 Healthy Snack ideas to help you with this new habit.

Choose Whole Grains– Including whole grains such as brown rice, whole wheat, quinoa, oatmeal, or popcorn have been shown to help prevent heart disease, some forms cancer, diabetes and obesity. Start by replacing white rice with brown rice, or corn tortilla instead of flour tortillas. You might not enjoy every whole grain, but try to incorporate them into your meal multiple times before deciding you do not like them. Sometimes it just takes getting used to.

Choose Water– It is easy to over consume calories and sugar by drinking coffee drinks, sodas, energy drinks, or juice. Try to replace these items with water to help keep you hydrated and reduce your extra calorie and sugar intake.

Try to incorporate the above healthy habits into your life style or develop your own. Sometimes it can take awhile to develop new habits but don’t give up. Just how the end of a year marks the beginning the of a new year, the end of each day marks the beginning of a new day. You don’t need a new year to start trying to develop new habits, all you need is a new day. I hope you have a wonderful year in 2013!

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