These 15 new habits are a continuing of yesterday’s blog post, taken from an article in Curves magazine.
16. Focus on priorities, not perfection.
For Marlene Schwartz, PhD, deputy director of Yale University’s Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity, having a family dinner every night and exercising with friends three mornings a week are higher on her list than having an immaculate house. “In order to keep your sanity, you have to decide what’s most important and let the rest go,” she says.
17. Chew your food thoroughly.
For Denise Martin, author of Eating My Way to Heaven, thorough chewing brings out a food’s flavor and helps her eat less. The practice also reduces heartburn because wellchewed food is already broken down, which means minimal stomach acids are needed for digestion.
18. Challenge your body when your spirits are low.
Six months after Bill McKibben began training to become an Olympic cross-country skier, his father was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Putting himself through the rigor of training buoyed his spirits and helped him endure the loss of his father. “There are times in life when you can’t always be thinking because the thoughts are too sad,” McKibben says. “That’s when to push yourself hard physically and make your heart work in a different way.” He encourages others to take a risk and try something that’s always looked like fun. Vow to master your kid’s scooter or skateboard. Sign up for a 5-K. Try a monthly basketball night with your Curves pals. “If it’s something you think you might fail at, then it’s a very good thing to try.”
19. Spend time in nature.
Betsy Muller loves to exercise outdoors, whether she’s hiking, gardening, or walking her dog. In addition to receiving vitamin D from sunlight, she feels more energized and peaceful after spending time in nature. “Mindfully connecting to the earth provides a very real sense of present-moment awareness, which is necessary for optimal productivity and focus,” says Muller, who as founder of The Indigo Connection helps adults achieve their personal and professional goals.
20. Focus on the positive.
Kathy Gruver banishes negative thoughts and practices affirmation and visualization. When she can’t sleep, Gruver, author of The Alternative Medicine Cabinet, tells herself, I fall asleep quickly and awake feeling refreshed. If she has a headache, she envisions a cavalry of white blood cells coming to her aid. Try a daily guided imagery exercise: Picture something pleasant (or if you have pain, visualize it as an object you can manipulate) and banish distracting thoughts. In a study of 260 chronic headache sufferers, about 22% of those who listened to guided imagery CDs 20 minutes a day reported that their aches were “much better” than before the treatment; only 8% of those who didn’t listen to CDs reported improved symptoms. Find CDs at amazon.com.
21. Do basic stretches every day.
Just a few minutes of stretching can improve your flexibility and range of motion, says Mitchell. Perform the stretches you have learned at Curves at home, on your off days, and even during breaks at work. To learn more, ask your circuit coach for help.
22. Eat more natural foods
Loading up on processed foods puts you at risk for diabetes, weight gain, and a host of other health problems, says Celia Westberry, author of Eat Yourself Younger Effortlessly. By eating more fruits, vegetables, and grains, Westberry says, she has steered clear of diabetes, despite a family history of it, and stayed at a healthy weight. She makes sure to include at least one fruit or vegetable, plus a healthy grain, at every meal and snack.
23. Live true to yourself.
One of the biggest causes of stress is trying to live in a way that’s not consistent with who you are, says Dr. Peeke. Ask yourself, Am I doing what I want to do? Am I getting my needs met? Every day, run a reality check on what you’ve done. When it says that your actions aren’t true to the kind of person you are, make sure you listen. Spend time with people and on activities that make you feel happy and challenged in a healthy way—not drained or burned-out.
24. Make time for fun.
In today’s fast-paced society, it’s easy to tell ourselves that we don’t have time for fun. But having fun is just as beneficial as exercising and eating right, says Heavin, who counts photography among her favorite pastimes. “For years, I didn’t think I had time for hobbies,” she says. “Today, I try to carve time every day for an activity that I enjoy. When I’m content,I tend to be more productive in all areas of my life.”
26. Prepare your own food.
No matter how busy she gets, Rodman makes cooking her own meals a priority. This helps her eat less salt and fat and ensures that she eats healthier overall. “You know exactly what goes into your food,” Rodman says. “There are no surprises.”
25. Read the ingredients, not just the nutrition label.
Armstrong says she always looks for short ingredient lists that don’t contain partially hydrogenated oils or high-fructose corn syrup. “This makes my food choices as natural as possible,” she says.
27. Be grateful—and say so.
Caroline Adams Miller, author of Creating Your Best Life, says she frequently writes a note of thanks to those who help her and is always scanning her environment for things to be grateful for. “Not only do I begin to feel better as a result of contemplating blessings as opposed to burdens, but I also know there is a positive surge of emotion in those who receive a note of gratitude,” she says.
28. Don’t beat yourself up for missteps.
When her habits are less than healthy, Meredith Terpeluk doesn’t get upset. “If I get off track a little, I look at the different things that may have gotten me there,” says Terpeluk, a wellness advisor and the founder of Healthy Voice. “I look at where I messed up as a tool for change, not as a stick to beat myself up with.”
29. Wash your hands regularly.
For Todd Bottorff, author of 21 Things to Create a Better Life, washing hands more frequently has helped him avoid illness. He’s gotten sick only once in five years, even though he has two young children and has not received a flu shot.
30. Drink lots of water
Len Saunders, author of Keeping Kids Fit, says that not drinking his calories has helped him manage his weight. “Simply cutting out liquid candy has helped me stay more alert and energized and kept my weight within a healthy range,” he says.