Now that the chaos of the holiday season is over, a lot of us are vowing to make changes for our health -- but we know that ambitious resolutions don't always work out so well. So instead of saying you'll "lose weight" or "eat better", try one or two of these simple, concrete changes.
Upgrade Your Eating Habits
Sticking to a formal diet takes a lot of energy and planning. Instead, try taking something you do every day, and tweak it to help you eat less or choose healthier options.
- Snack Smarter: Figure out when you're most likely to snack -- when you're playing video games, perhaps? -- and stock up on a healthier option you enjoy.
- Hide the Junk Food: Take a few minutes to reorganise your kitchen. Put a bowl of fruit in an obvious, well-lit place, and stash the less healthy stuff out of sight.
- Wait to Break Your Fast: If you often skip breakfast, try intermittent fasting -- basically the same thing, but where you get strict about not eating before lunch. Intermittent fasting isn't for everyone, but if it fits your routine, embrace it.
- Fill Up on Water: Drink a glass of water before each meal to help fill your stomach. You'll eat less, and you may find it easier to resist the temptation to drink something with more kilojoules like beer or soft drink.
- Eat "Free" Foods: Work a few of these low-kilojoule veggies and condiments into your lunch.
Make one of these changes and your meals and snacks will help you stay healthy -- no diet plan needed.
Ease Into Exercise With Short Sessions
Any exercise is better than none. If you haven't found the time for regular 30 or 60 minute sessions, try something quicker as a stopgap. Three 10-minute sessions a day still count as a 30-minute workout, and even three 10-minute strength sessions per week can keep you healthy. More is better, but get started right now in whatever time you have.
- If You Have 15 Minutes: Do this full-body morning routine video, or this one based on a card you can print out as a cheat sheet.
- If You Have 11 Minutes: Try this old school fighter pilots' workout.
- If You Have Seven Minutes: The scientific seven-minute workout is a classic that does the trick.
- If You Have Five Minutes: Try the five minute hotel room workout.
- If You Have Two Minutes: Stand on one foot to work on strength and balance, or exercise your mind instead with a quick stint of meditation.
Besides your official workout time, don't forget that walking is a great way to benefit your body, too. If you can work more walks into your day, you'll be off to a good start.
Amp Up Your Fitness
If you're already exercising, adding another intense session a week or trying a new sport are worthwhile goals but they aren't the only way to work harder. Try one of these:
- Run Speedwork: If you already run a few times a week, turn one of those sessions into a speedwork day dedicated to running intervals. You'll get faster and fitter than if you just kept all your running at a medium pace.
- Add Intervals: Turn any cardio workout into a strength and endurance booster by working in one of the three most effective interval workouts.
- Lift Something: You'll improve your health if you work weights into your routine rather than living by cardio alone.
- Master a New Move: Pick an exercise you've always wanted to be good at, like the deadlift or bench press, and get a trainer to introduce you to the move or give you pointers on how to improve.
- Explore Via Video: Tune in to a new workout channel on YouTube for a source of fresh workouts you haven't tried.
These changes may seem simple, but by keeping your workouts challenging, you're ultimately improving your health. And since none of these changes require huge investments of time or willpower, you can save your energy for the goals that matter the most to you.