Are you constantly thinking about how you should eat better, exercise more, and go to bed earlier but never follow through on your goals? It’s easy to let healthy habits fall to the wayside when you have so much else going on, but what happens when life doesn’t slow down?
It’s not a big deal if you let good habits lapse occasionally — everyone deserves a cheat day or a lazy afternoon once in a while. However, if you keep putting health last on your priority list, it won’t be long until you start feeling the negative effects of your lifestyle.
Instead of telling yourself that you’ll get around to healthy living later, make this the year you finally get serious about your well-being. These strategies may seem simple, but they make a surprisingly big difference in your health.
Stop Replacing Sleep with Coffee
There’s nothing wrong with enjoying a cup of coffee or tea in the morning. But when you start using caffeine as a substitute for quality sleep, a vicious cycle begins. Since caffeine can remain in your system for more than six hours, using coffee as a crutch after a night of poor sleep can leave you struggling to sleep again the following night. Cut off the caffeine after 2 p.m. and if you need a pick-me-up, drink water or go for a walk instead.
Actually Move During the Workday
You’ve read the studies. The ones about how sitting all day is as bad for your health as smoking, and how even your nightly gym routine won’t save you. Nonetheless, you still spend the majority of your workday sitting and rarely remember to stand up every hour, let alone every 30 minutes.
It’s easy to brush aside the negative effects of sitting when you’ve got work to do and deadlines to meet, but don’t underestimate the stakes: The more you sit, the less likely you are to enjoy a long, healthy life. Download an app that reminds you to stand so you never forget again.
Don’t Ditch Your Habits on Vacation
The most important thing you can do during the first year of any lifestyle change is to make it a habit. That means committing to healthy choices even when you’re traveling or away on vacation. It’s not easy maintaining healthy habits when your routine is disrupted, but staying in a vacation rental makes it a little easier. Vacation rentals are great for healthy travel because you can cook your own meals and even squeeze in an equipment-free workout instead of sharing a tiny hotel gym with strangers. You might think you’ll give up a great location when you stay in a home instead of a hotel, but even if you’re staycationing in Chicago, Turnkey explains that you can find vacation rentals near all the top attractions, whether you’re heading to Pitchfork or getting cultured at The Art Institute and The Field Museum.
Stop Sleeping in on Weekends
It doesn’t take a week away on vacation to throw positive routines off-course. Even sleeping in for two days over the weekend can disrupt your body’s sleep-wake cycle and leave you feeling groggy and foggy-brained on Monday morning. Since sleepless nights make it hard to exercise your willpower and make healthy choices, avoid sleeping in more than an hour on weekends.
Don’t Give Up When You Slip Up
You don’t get healthy by making drastic changes overnight. You do it by making little changes day after day that add up to big improvements in your well-being. Instead of demanding perfection and feeling defeated when you slip up, focus on maintaining steady progress throughout the year. While these simple goals may seem too small to make a big difference, they’re the foundation of healthy habits you can build upon for years to come.
Guest post by Jennifer McGregor