4 minute read

Lifestyle Magazine January 2023

A Better You

Increasing Healthy Habits with Four Simple Steps

Words by Krista Feagans

It's a new year! Every new year brings the feeling of possibility, and a fresh start. People often focus on health, which is obviously very important. But where to start? And how to keep it going?

January is usually a big month for new gym memberships, diets, and detoxes. But come February, how many of us are still "on the wagon?" Read on to learn which changes to prioritize and how to turn those changes into lasting habits, for a healthier, happier you (for many years to come).

1. Boost Immunity

It's winter. It's cold. Everyone was crowded together at all the holiday parties. Now, the cold temperature doesn't make you sick, but it does make you less likely to spend time outdoors socializing and more likely to move the gathering inside, and THAT makes it easier to spread illness. Here are a few things that can boost immunity and at least shorten (if not prevent) those winter bugs.

Vitamin C: Fruits and veggies are the best source.

• Citrus (oranges, kiwi, lemon, grapefruit)

• Bell peppers

• Strawberries (and all other berries)

• Tomatoes

• Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower)

• Leafy greens

Other Immune Boosting Foods:

• Fish/Fish Oil: cold water fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel) have high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, which help your white blood cells fight infection. Aim to consume these fish 3-4 times per week, and look into a fish oil supplement if that's not doable.

• Nuts and Seeds: almonds, walnuts, and sunflower seeds contain B6, magnesium, phosphorus, and selenium, which help maintain your immune system.

• Spices: garlic, ginger, and turmeric have been used for centuries to fight infection.

2. Self-Care

The idea of self-care has become super trendy lately, but that doesn't make it any less important. As a self-employed busy mother of two, it is far too easy for me to drop that ball. But carving out just 15-20 minutes a day for YOU can make a huge difference in your mood, your health, and your relationships (as a spouse, parent, and friend). Set a specific time for it. Put it on your calendar. You wouldn't miss an important meeting or an appointment. Don't miss this.

• Go for a walk (try it with music or a new podcast)

• Stretch for 15 minutes

• Pick your favorite essential oil and diffuse it, then breathe for 10-15 minutes

• Schedule a massage

• Make a coffee or lunch date with a friend (or a phone date) and catch up

• Exercise for fun: golf, tennis, biking, hiking, ski/snowboard, sled with the kids

• Get Good Sleep: turn off screens 1-2 hrs before bed, make your room dark, use a sound machine, focus on consistency with bedtime/wake time

3. Healthy Habits

But how do we actually commit to doing these things? How do we turn these things we want to change into actual habits that we do daily?

• Prioritize. Focus on 2-3 things that are really important to you. Or maybe just 1 thing.

• S.M.A.R.T goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound.

• Habit Stacking. This is the practice of creating a new (healthy) habit by pairing it with something you already do.

Examples:

• After I brush my teeth, I will drink a cup of water.

• When I wake up, I will put on my workout clothes and shoes.

• After dinner, I will make a healthy lunch for the next day.

• When I have my coffee or tea, I will take 3 deep breaths.

4. Up Your Nutrition

Rather than focus on what not to do (we all have a good idea what those things are anyway), here are some things to add to your diet, in addition to the immune-boosting foods we've listed. Also, a word on detoxing—your liver does that. Don't get caught up in gimmicks, shakes, and diets. Instead, focus on boosting your nutrition meal by meal, snack by snack.

• Add fruit and nuts to oatmeal or cereal in the morning

• Add veggies to breakfast 3x/week

• Spinach, tomatoes, onions, mushrooms with omelets, frittatas, or egg bites

• Cucumbers, tomatoes, spinach to 1/2 bagel with hummus/avocado

• Pair a fruit or veggie with a protein and healthy fat for snacks

• Apple + peanut butter, carrots + hummus

• 2 clementines + 1/4 cup almonds

• Cucumber + greek yogurt

• Add frozen veggies to instant soups or pasta dishes