Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither was good life and wellness habits. But there are small changes we can make right now that will help us start to feel and look better within a week. Seven days doesn’t seem so daunting now does it? Starting the new year off on a healthier foot is easier than you think!
Instead of reaching for a bag of chips when you are sitting in front of the TV, pamper yourself with a manicure. Not only does it keep your hands busy, but it will smudge if you do try to sneak a late-night snack, says Jennifer Espinosa-Goswami, Professional Speaker and Weight Loss Coach at Weightless LLC.
When we stress out during the holidays, we often forget to breathe. Failing to breathe increases our body’s response to stress, which often results in emotional eating. Next time you feel like scarfing down some cookies after a bad day at work, close your eyes, and take three huge breaths, explains Espinosa-Goswami.
MORE: 13 Best Foods for Weight Loss
The problem with most of processed foods is that they are too easy to eat! Processing strips food of its roughage texture and most of the nutrients in the process. Eat more whole foods, or at least chew twice as much per bite than you currently do, notes Espinosa-Goswami.
Not all of us have the time or interest in spending hours at the gym, but that doesn’t have to derail our health goals. Set an alarm reminding you to stand up every hour. “This tip helped me lose 10 pounds without any other changes in my eating or exercise habits!” says Espinosa-Goswami.
During sleep, the body repairs and builds tissues, muscles, and skin. It is when the brain reorganizes memories and consolidates them so upon waking up, learned information is clear and available, says Solveig Magnusdottir, MD, MBA, Chief Medical Officer of SleepImage. Lack of sleep can affect how we look and feel, our judgment, our mood, as well as our ability to learn. And yes, “poor sleep” can in part lead to “poor skin.” Insufficient and poor sleep suppresses collagen production, the protein that protects against UV damage and seals in moisture, promoting a youthful, healthy appearance. It affects secretion of estrogen and progesterone, which promotes production of elastin—the protein that is important for skin elasticity. But Magnusdottir also says that insufficient and poor sleep can cause people to make some less-than-ideal food choices, including larger food portions and cravings for junk food. To fix this, Magnusdottir suggests monitoring our sleep patterns to get a handle on where we’re at with something like SleepImage, a home sleep measurement system that measures the quality—not only quantity—of sleep. It uses heart rate and respirations to provide an objective and accurate measure of sleep.
Weight loss is a marathon, not a sprint—and you should celebrate along the way to your goal. Once you have incorporated each new lifestyle change, celebrate with a non-food reward, says Espinosa-Goswami. Non-food rewards might be a massage, movie, or visit to the comedy club with your friends. Life is even better when you enjoy it.
Keep a bowl of fruit within view at home or at work at all times:
Research shows that those who have fruit bowls on display consistently eat more fruit than those who do not, says Rene Ficek, Registered Dietitian and Lead Nutrition Expert at Seattle Sutton’s Healthy Eating.
Keep track of how many fruits and vegetables you eat each day:
You are more likely to eat more fruits and vegetables if you write down how many servings you need and how many you get. For the 2,000 calorie/day diet, the latest guidelines recommend a minimum of 2 cups of fruit and 2½ cups of vegetables a day, says Ficek. Adding extra vegetables, such as grated zucchini or carrots, spinach, kale, and bell peppers, to pasta sauces and soups is one way to develop more flavor and get an extra serving of vegetables. Roasting vegetables is easy and brings out new flavors. Vegetables like onions, carrots, zucchini, asparagus, and turnips make a tasty, easy, and quick side dish. Just coat with olive oil, add a dash of balsamic vinegar, and roast at 350° until done.
MORE: 8 Beauty Conversations You Have With Your Friends
Don’t skip dessert:
End your meal with a light, refreshing, and naturally sweet fruit-based dessert. Need an idea? Desserts like dark chocolate covered strawberries add heart-healthy antioxidants, some fiber, and a host of vitamins, minerals, and other phytonutrients to your day, explains Ficek.
Don’t forget to snack:
Stock counter-tops, pantries, refrigerators, desks, cars, and purses with nuts, fruits (fresh or dried!), vegetables, or yogurt. All of these add an extra dose of healthy vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that will keep energy up all day long, says Ficek.
Be in the moment:
Too often, we’re rushing to get something done or worrying about how we’re going to make time for fitness. Lisa A. Reed, owner of Lisa Reed Fitness LLC, suggests being more mindful. When you are living in the present instead of being stressed about the past or future, you truly appreciate what you have.
Drink more water:
Water is incredibly vital to health and fitness. You should be drinking water from the instant you wake up until you go to bed, says Reed. Drink a glass of water before every meal, between each workout, and on your commute. If you’re feeling bloated, it could be because you are not drinking enough water. Bloating happens when your body retains water because it is not getting enough—so drink up!