9 Healthy Habits to Implement This Year

The beginning of a new year is the perfect time to implement new healthy habits. We have nine suggestions for healthy habits that can benefit everyone this year.

1. Drink Water First Thing in the Morning

One of the healthiest habits you can implement is drinking water each morning. Ideally, before your feet hit the ground, you should consume 20 ounces of water. The best way that I have found to do this is to go to bed with a full reusable bottle of water on your nightstand. When you wake in the morning, take off the lid and drink it down. Then, all day long, aim to refill that bottle several times to replenish your body’s water stores.

Dr. Fereydoon Batmanghelidj, the author of the book, “Your Body’s Many Cries for Water,” wrote, “Water is the basis of all life and that includes your body. Your muscles that move your body are 75 percent water; your blood that transports nutrients is 82 percent water; your lungs that provide your oxygen are 90 percent water; your brain that is the control center of your body is 76 percent water; even your bones are 25 percent water.”

Because our bodies consist of so many parts that are mostly water, it’s imperative that we continue to stay hydrated. Commit to drinking more water each day this year. Start in the morning and keep drinking throughout the day.

2. Plan Your Meals

Looking for a healthy habit that will reduce your stress and help you meet your dietary and budget goals? Say “Hello” to meal planning.

Writing for at The Kitchn, which a daily online food magazine, Hali Bey Ramdene says, “Meal planning is asking the what’s for dinner question once for the whole week, instead of every night.”

Before you go to the supermarket to pick up groceries, take a few minutes to inventory your pantry and refrigerator. Check out your produce and perishable goods to see what needs to be used right away. Make a list of those items. Then, search online for recipes that include those foods.

After you have made a plan to use your perishable foods, search for some other recipes that you’d like to make during the week. When you have breakfast, lunch, and dinner covered for each day of the week, make a list of the ingredients you’ll need for each meal. Cross off any ingredients you already have. Add snack foods, drinks, and general staples to your grocery list as well.

Shop for the items on your meal plan. When you return home, take a few minutes to wash and chop produce, marinate proteins and portion out ingredients to make preparing your meals easier and quicker throughout the week.

Planning for the week’s meals is a healthy habit that will help you to eat the way you know you should be eating. In addition, it will help you stay within your grocery budget and use the food you already have. As a bonus, meal planning will save you time that was once spent standing in front of the pantry wondering what to make.

3. Eat a Power Breakfast

Whether or not you believe that breakfast is the most important meal of your day, it is still an opportunity to nourish your body with the best foods possible. Taking the time to feed yourself and your family a good breakfast is a healthy habit that will serve you well.

White flour pancakes or sugary cereal are not good breakfast options. Instead, incorporate vegetables into the first meal of your day. Put a cup or two of spinach into your smoothie, serve a half an avocado alongside your scrambled eggs or consider a pan-fried sweet potato and cauliflower bowl for breakfast.

Think outside of the box when it comes to breakfast. The healthier the foods you can eat in the morning, the better. Broaden your breakfast menu by adding greens and fruit to your breakfast plate every day.

4. Set a Consistent Bedtime

Most of us wake up at about the same time each day. However, going to bed is often another story. Do your body a favor and set a regular bedtime for yourself. Then, turn the lights out about an hour before your bedtime to help your body wind down for the night. You’ll be surprised at how good it feels to set your body’s clock and stick with a consistent bedtime routine.

5. Take Your Vitamins

Even with a healthy diet, the vast majority of us are deficient in certain vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and essential fats. Choose a high-quality multivitamin and commit to taking it every day.

6. Go Outside in the Morning

Getting sunlight on your face each day, just after you wake, will tell your body that it’s morning. This bright reminder helps set your body’s circadian rhythm. Your circadian rhythm controls your sleep-wake cycle, among other vital functions.

Also, a study out of Northwestern University School of Medicine found that people who are exposed to sunlight in the early morning have a lower body mass index (BMI) than those who are not. The lead author of the study, Phyllis Zee, M.D., said, “If a person doesn’t get sufficient light at the appropriate time of day, it could desynchronize [his or her] internal body clock, which is known to alter metabolism and can lead to weight gain.”

Have your coffee out on your front porch. Take your neighbor’s dog out for a walk in the morning or park a few blocks away from your office and walk slowly on your way into work. Make sure you get some sunshine on your face first thing in the morning so that your body is in sync with the world around you.

7. Move More

We all know how important it is to exercise. Sadly, it’s often difficult to squeeze a workout into our already busy days. Look for ways to add more physical activity into your routine. Here are a few ideas:

  • Don’t park near the entrance at the grocery store, at work or anyplace. Park as far away as possible and walk briskly to the entrance. Take it an extra step further (pun intended) and park an entire street away.
  • Take the stairs rather than the elevator or escalator when there’s an option.
  • Set a reminder on your phone to take a pushup break every couple of hours during the day. Then, drop down and do as many pushups as you can. If you can’t do full pushups, try incline pushups where you place your hands on a bench or the side of your couch and push up from there.
  • When you stop to pump gas, walk a lap around the station instead of just standing there waiting for your tank to fill.
  • Are you taking a child to soccer practice? Instead of scrolling social media while you wait in the car, how about walking laps around the soccer field?
  • When you’re at the supermarket, park your cart at the end of each aisle and walk over to get the items you need. Then, walk them back to the cart. You’ll get more exercise this way than if you push the cart down each aisle.
  • Ride your bike or walk when you’re going to a store nearby, or you need to run an errand close to home.

Wear a pedometer to help you get an idea of how much more you’re moving. Then, challenge yourself to find ways to sneak in more exercise throughout the day.

8. Be More Social

Socialization isn’t just important for toddlers and dogs ― it’s essential and beneficial to all of us. There are all sorts of benefits to being more social. One study, out of Brigham Young University, found that people who had active, social relationships lived 50 percent longer than those who did not engage socially with others.

Other recent studies have shown that people with strong social relationships have stronger immune systems, fewer instances of depression and better sleep habits.

To start a habit of being more social this year, consider going to church, joining a book club or a walking group. Chances are very good that there are active groups in your area accepting new members. Find like-minded people who enjoy the same things you do by searching the net for community groups in your city or start a group yourself. Do you like movies? Consider forming a group of other folks who like to visit the cinema once a week and discuss the film afterward.

If more than a few days go by and you haven’t had a significant social encounter with another human, reach out to a neighbor or go to a community event. Find someone to share your time with so that you can enrich your health and your quality of life.

9. Designate a ‘Sweets Day’

One of the healthiest habits you can implement this year is to limit the amount of refined sugar you consume each day. A dear friend of mine adopted a “sweets day” for herself and her family. She designated one day of the week to indulge in cookies, chocolate, ice cream and the like. On Fridays, she would bake a special dessert for her family, pack treats in her kids’ lunchboxes, and her husband would have ice cream with chocolate syrup when they watched television together at night.

Having a designated day for sweets will help you reduce your overall consumption of refined sugar. This practice also makes sugary treats a “once-in-a-while” indulgence that’s special, rather than a daily practice. Pick a day to schedule in that delicious bowl of death-by-chocolate ice cream or an iced mocha latte’ with extra whipped cream.

Implement Healthy Habits This Year

In life, we can all afford to make improvements to be our best selves. The new year is a time to take inventory of our habits and make changes accordingly. Consider adding one or more of these healthy habits to your days this year. Cheers to a healthy new year.