The new year brings new opportunities to reshape your health. It’s a time to start afresh — recharge your mind, body and soul. But with so many diet and exercise options, it’s hard to decide which healthy lifestyle change to embrace and, most importantly, the ones you can stick to.
To ease your burdens, we spoke with Memorial Hermann Wellness Coach Sarah Sagullo for some expert advice on the topic. Here are her recommended five health goals worth sticking to in 2020.
1. Practice Self-Care
Self-care is about taking care of yourself to improve your emotional, physical and mental well-being. It includes getting enough sleep and relaxation, and managing your stress, to improve your health. So, this year, take time to unwind, get an extra hour of sleep, put down your cell phone at night and laugh a little more. Sagullo explains that when you’re less stressed, you’re able to make healthier choices.
2. Get Moving With Mobile Health Apps
It’s no secret that daily exercise can improve your health. But to improve your fitness results, use a mobile health app. A study by the University of Florida and the University of Kansas showed the use of mobile health apps can improve health outcomes. They’re convenient, easily accessible and many are free. From step counters to aerobics videos and live-streaming workout classes to virtual trainers, with a health app, a workout is right at your fingertips, leaving you with no excuse not to burn calories.
3. Ditch the Diets
Going on a diet also implies getting off a diet, at some point, which often leads to gaining the weight back. However, evidence shows losing weight gradually and making long-term changes in your daily eating and exercise habits delivers long-lasting results. Focus on making a sustainable shift toward better food choices, such as whole grains, lean meats and fresh fruits and vegetables. The dreaded “d” word is often associated with restriction and deprivation, which can make it harder to commit. So, get off the diet bandwagon and work toward a permanent, healthy eating lifestyle.
4. Eat Your Fruits and Veggies
There’s a reason your Mom always told you to. According to Harvard University, diets rich in fruits and vegetables reduce risk of heart disease and stroke, can lower blood pressure, prevent some types of cancer, and have a positive effect on blood sugar, which can help regulate your appetite. They’re also dense in nutrients. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends five servings of vegetables per day and four servings of fruit. Yet, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention only 1 in 10 adults get enough fruits and vegetables. Not getting your daily servings in? Change that — add spinach and mushrooms to your eggs, throw kale in your smoothie and choose an apple or orange for your afternoon snack.
5. Fuel Up On Superfoods
Superfoods, such as kale, brussels sprouts, blueberries and mushrooms, have increased in popularity — and with good reason. Researchers have found they’re packed with higher levels of vitamins and minerals than most foods. And some are also rich in antioxidants, which help prevent disease and protect cells from damage. So, as you increase your fruit and vegetable intake, be sure to add superfoods to your mix. One of Sagullo’s favorites is mushrooms because they’re high in fiber, potassium, vitamin C, selenium and vitamin D. Kale, which has become so popular that it’s been added to a major fast-food restaurant’s menu, is high in vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin C and powerful antioxidants, which help protect against some cancers.