With a brand new year comes an opportunity to start fresh. Whether you want to get fit, adopt healthier eating habits, look your best or improve your overall sense of well-being, now is the perfect time to take that first step.
To get you on the right path, we asked medical doctor, nutritionist and life coach Susan Biali, MD, to share her top tips for making this your healthiest year ever. Here are 10 healthy things she’ll be doing this year—and how you can do them, too.
Get eight hours of beauty sleep
Sleep is one of the most powerful (free!) resources we have to create maximal health and beauty. When you skimp on sleep you’ll age faster, be more likely to gain weight, get sick more easily, experience chronic low energy, and be much more moody and vulnerable to stress. Imagine how good you’d feel—and look—if you got enough sleep every night. Kiss those dark circles and tired, puffy eyes goodbye!
Eat a fruit or vegetable every time you eat
Fruits and vegetables fight everything from aging to cancer, yet it can be so hard to get in enough servings in a day. This year, every time you reach for a meal or a snack, commit to having at least one vegetable or fruit accompanying it.
Find time for fabulous friends
Positive relationships create optimal physical health and longer life. Make a list of your top ten favorite people in the world, near and far, and plan when you’re going to see or talk to them this year. Maximize time with people you adore and avoid those who drain you or stress you out.
Just say no
Most of us are ridiculously over-committed, with a long list of reasons we don’t say no (guilt, lack of courage, compulsive people-pleasing, etc.). Make this the year you think carefully before saying yes to anything, and say no more than you ever have before.
Supplement your health
Though it’s best to get most of your nutrition from real food, you probably can’t achieve optimal health without some help from supplements. Women need vitamin D and calcium, and most of us are low in iron. You may also want to add an omega-3 rich fish oil capsule to your daily diet.
Decide what matters most
If you don’t decide what you want out of life, life—and people in it—will decide for you. Pick four core values or goals that matter more to you than anything else (whether it’s your family, your spiritual life, or your plans to change the world) and hold up every decision or opportunity against this list. Living on purpose minimizes stress and maximizes joy and fulfillment.
Nurture yourself outrageously
Find ways to treat yourself that are so delicious that the mere thought makes you laugh out loud. For example, could you sneak to the spa on your lunch break? Personally, I love having a bath in the afternoon just because, or taking the morning off to curl up on the couch with a movie. Commit to regularly creating small, delightful, and even rebellious ways to recharge and nourish yourself. You may just be surprised at what a big difference it makes in your life.
Plan big and small vacations
North Americans are chronically vacation-deprived and our health, productivity and happiness suffer because of it. My coach challenged me recently to aggressively plan as many vacations as possible and to budget and build my schedule around that ideal. Force yourself to take more time for fun and play this year, and make sure you really unplug and rest when you do.
Get moving as much as you can
We were made to move, and the more we do the happier and healthier we are. Capitalize on anything you enjoy that keeps you active, every single day. Go out dancing, take your dog for a walk in the woods, sign up for Pilates or yoga, start a garden in your backyard—whatever gets you moving and makes you happiest.
Commit to your spirit
A rich spiritual life forms the bedrock of a healthy physical life. Countless studies prove the benefits of regular spiritual practice, so make this the year that your favourite spiritual practices become habits as automatic as brushing your teeth. How might you take your spiritual life to new heights? Try a daily prayer or meditation, or save up to go on that longed-for week-long yoga retreat this year.
Make no compromises
The best part about these ten principles is that they don’t really require any sacrifice. In fact, they’re all about increasing what’s good rather than depriving yourself in any way—so there’s no reason not to stick with them! Commit to even just a few, and you will have a fantastic foundation from which to launch this year, and the rest of your life.