13 Small Ways to Be Healthier in the New Year

For the past several years, getting healthier has been an ambitious New Years resolution that quickly falls by the wayside . So, this year I decided to try several small steps to get healthier rather than a grandiose plan. My favorites are below and I’ve been doing pretty well with #1, #3, #5, #7 and #11.

  1. Make your latte “skinny.” A regular vanilla latte at Starbucks has 35g of sugar and 6g of fat but when ordered “skinny” it has 0g of each according to the coffee chain’s website (non-fat milk and sugar-free syrup are used).
  2. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Walking up 4 flights of stairs burns about 40 calories.
  3. Take a multivitamin daily and maybe a calcium supplement. Vitamins can plug nutrition gaps in your diet, and they offer measurable benefits like boosting bone density in women who supplement calcium and vitamin D.
  4. Get a massage. It’s not a luxury if you are experiencing recurrent stress, pain or muscle tension.
  5. Drink a green smoothie or green juice 2-3 times per week. Yes, berries and bananas are delicious, but add some raw spinach and lemon juice to cut the bitterness and you’ll be boosting your folate intake as well as vitamins A, B-6, K and riboflavin.
  6. Go to bed 30 minutes earlier and then push it back to 60 minutes earlier. Benefits include better energy and focus, reducing stress and protecting against diabetes, cancer, inflammation and heart disease. (A 2008 study showed that adults who slept for 7 hours a night had a 33 percent lower chance of having calcium deposits build up in their arteries than adults who slept for only 6 hours).
  7. Take a brisk walk outdoors during your lunch hour or after you get home. Not only does it burn calories and boost endorphins and energy, but you’ll also absorb some extra Vitamin D.
  8. Give meditation a try. A 5 minute daily meditation can provide significant stress relief.
  9. Join the “Meatless Monday” crowd. Sure it’s a fad, but research suggests that red meat and processed meat consumption increases the risk of colorectal cancer while plant-based diets, particularly those low in processed meat, can reduce your risk  as well as your risk of type 2 diabetes.
  10. Wear sunscreen daily, without fail. Sunscreen has been proven to decrease the development of skin cancer and also helps to prevent facial brown spots and skin discolorations.
  11. Cut back your sugary food intake. We all love donuts, cupcakes, candy, and other treats made from refined sugar, but they shouldn’t be a daily indulgence. The American Heart Association suggests that Americans should not get more than 100-150 calories from added sugar i.e.  sugary foods or beverages per day. However, on average Americans consume 335 calories from added sugar daily, the equivalent of 22 teaspoons of sugar.
  12. Add one serving of fruits or vegetables to your diet daily. Grab an apple at lunch time or a handful of carrots for a snack.
  13. Drink less soda, even if you drink diet soda. Yes, diet soda is healthier than regular soda but recent research has uncovered links between diet soda and conditions like type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, hypertension and stroke.