It’s New Year’s Eve! Instead of another doomed-to-fail resolution, what if we commit to starting healthy habits in 2014? Here are a few ideas to get you going!
I think the reason that so many of our New Year’s resolutions fizzle is that they’re just too vague, and that makes it hard to actually put them into action. A resolution is really just a goal, though, right? What if this year you had a structured goal to help you incorporate healthy habits into your life?
A resolutions like “eat healthy food,” for example, is kind of tricky, isn’t it? What do we mean when we say “healthy food?” Did we fail if we break down and devour a box of cookies? Are we planning to ditch those cookies from day one? An open-ended goal like this can be overwhelming, but healthy habits are made to stick.
What are Healthy Habits?
Healthy habits can refer to physical or emotional health. A healthy habit is one that makes you feel good and feel good about yourself. It’s a big umbrella, and I think that it encompasses a lot of what we are going for when we declare those fleeting New Year’s resolutions.
Breaking unhealthy habits can also be part of starting healthy ones. Cutting back on sugar or soda are good examples of healthy habits that are really more about giving something up that’s harming your health.
Unlike a resolution a habit is something that you do (or don’t do) regularly. It’s part of your routine. Brushing your teeth is a habit and so is your morning cup of coffee, and neither of those feel like chores because they’re just part of your day. The trick to making healthy habits stick is repetition, and having a plan is key.
How to Start Healthy Habits
Starting healthy habits isn’t easy, and I think there are some keys to effectively starting one:
- The goal you’re setting should be flexible. Don’t beat yourself up for setbacks. Instead, let yourself screw up sometimes and commit to getting it right the next time.
- Choose something specific and attainable, and have a structure in place. Don’t just say “exercise more.” Tell yourself what you’re going to do and how often, like “walking for 45 minutes on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings before work.”
- Set short-term time limits. Monthly, weekly, and even quarterly check-ins can keep you on track. See where your healthy habits are strong and where you need to work a little harder. Maybe you’ve been great at eating more greens, but you’ve been eating a lot more cookies than is reasonable lately.
- You need to commit to practicing your goal on a regular basis. We form healthy habits by repeating them over and over until they’re part of our day-to-day routine.
Healthy Habits for 2014
Instead of the typical New Year’s resolution, try starting one of these habits for physical or emotional health in 2014!
1. Happy Thoughts Jar – This might sound cheesy, but it’s actually really gratifying. Grab yourself a large jar, and every day write down something that makes you happy. Stick that scrap of paper in the jar, and when you’re feeling blue, you can sift through all of your happy thoughts from the year.
2. Green Smoothies – Instead of “eat healthier,” get specific and start your day off with a healthy green smoothie! My 40 Days of Green Smoothies book can help you get started, or you can find your own green smoothie recipes online.
3. Start a Daily Yoga Routine – Or commit to doing yoga on certain days of the week, if that seems more attainable to you. Check out these yoga poses for beginners to get you started.
4. Reduce Your Impact – “Go green” is a tough resolution to keep, but what if you resolved to start a few of these simple habits instead?
5. Switch to a Natural Deodorant – Don’t resolve to “get healthy.” Gets specific instead and ditch the toxic chemicals in your deodorant. Making the switch can be a little bit tricky, so check out these tips on how to make the switch a little less, well, stinky.
6. Ditch the Sodapop – Quitting your soda habit can go a long way towards getting healthier, and these tips can help you quit an unhealthy soda habit.
7. 13 Steps to a Better You – My friend Lisa at Lazy Budget Chef outlines her specific action plans for starting 13 healthy habits. You could follow one of these or pick a few for your New Year’s resolutions.
8. Ditch Plastic Food Storage – Talk about an unhealthy habit! Check out some tips on how to start using healthier glass to store your food.
9. Try Macrobiotic Eating – Healthy eating can seem elusive, but with some practice it’s totally doable. Jenny Bradford is starting a 30 day plan for macrobiotic eating, for example. Thirty days is a doable length of time, and at the end she’ll have developed some healthy habits without overwhelming herself.
10. Meatless Monday – Does going vegan or vegetarian seem elusive, but you’d like to try to eat less meat? Commit to going meatless for just one day a week! Your heart and many, many farm animals will thank you.
11. Cook at Home – Do you eat take out or delivery food for much of the week? Try starting a weekend cooking ritual to stock your fridge and freezer with home-cooked meals that you can eat all week long. If you’re overwhelmed by the whole idea of cooking, just get in there and get started! The more you cook, the easier it is to make your food at home.
12. Switch to a Standing Desk – Do you sit at a desk for 40 hours a week? It turns out that sitting is terrible for your health! Choosing a standing desk can help reverse the negative health effects of sitting all day, every day at the office. If standing all day seems like a lot, they also make convertible desks, so you can alternate. A friend of mine just switched to one of these, and she loves it!
13. Swap Your Desk Chair for a Yoga Ball – Does a standing or convertible desk seem like too much? Try using a yoga ball instead of a desk chair to improve posture and concentration while you work.
14. Ditch Sugar – This might seem a little bit daunting, but with a plan it’s attainable! The book The Sugar Detox looks like a good place to start with this healthy habit!
15. Go Vegan -Are you ready to take the plant-strong leap? Check out this complete guide to vegan cooking for beginners!
16. Meditate – Have you been wanting to try meditation? There’s an app for that, and it’s awesome.
17. Ride Your Bike to Work – You don’t have to ride your bike every day to be a bike commuter! Start with one day a week and go from there. Here are some bike commuting tips to get you started.
18. Ditch Bottled Water – It’s so convenient to grab a plastic bottle of water when you’re out and about. Start keeping a reusable bottle in your purse, car, and bike pannier so you don’t have to buy bottled water to stay hydrated.
19. Practice Gratitude – File this under “slowing down.” This healthy habit is all about taking a moment out of your day to appreciate even the mundane things in your life.
20. Learn Something New – Don’t just say that you’re going to learn something! Choose what you want to learn, and enroll in a class, so that you’re committed. Your local community college might be a good place for budget-friendly classes, or you can look for online classes if you need something that fits into your busy schedule.
21. Bust that Clutter – Just “get organized” can be a hard resolution to keep, but what if you break your unhealthy habit of storing clutter? Here are some clutter-busting tips to get you started.
Do you have any healthy habits that you’re trying to start in the new year? I’d love to hear about your New Year’s resolutions in the comments!