Ever since January 1st rolled around and New Year’s resolutions were written into the fresh, first page of your new planner, we’ve been chatting about becoming your healthiest self and holding your goals accountable. Maybe you thoroughly succeeded in your goals and are ready for some minor updates and new challenges, or maybe your New Year’s resolutions lasted until your January 2nd hangover (no judgement!). Either way, “getting healthier” should not feel restrictive or make you unhappy.
I’m a big believer that health should be empowering, abundant, and help you feel self-love. Anything that feels more restrictive, depriving, or unhappy is anything but “healthy.” Learn to love giving your body what it needs — not with overwhelming goals like running a 5k or cutting out all sugar; but with momentary, easy tips and tricks that make a huge difference. Here are 17 easy things you can do today to become a whole lot healthier without even trying (new year’s resolutions, who?):
1. Drink a glass of water (with a boost)
The easiest thing you can do to make your body a lot healthier in under a few minutes? Drink a big glass of water — seriously. You know that water is crucial for staying hydrated and healthy, but water actually packs so many good-for-you benefits, I’d say it deserves superfood status (step aside, kale!). Water helps your body function properly in everything from the digestive system to absorption of proper nutrients. For an even bigger nutrient boost, add super ingredients to your water like lemon (promotes digestion and loaded with vitamin C), chlorophyll (detoxifies the liver and reduces cancer risk), or mint (improves brain function and relieves indigestion).
2. Adjust your posture
Haven’t had much time to work out? No need to panic — standing up straight with your shoulders back activates your back, arms, and core muscles (hello, sick-pack!). Good posture is also good for optimal digestion, preventing injuries, and improving your mood. Whenever you remember throughout the day, roll your shoulders back and sit/stand up tall. You can even try setting reminders at work to sit up taller, or can set a note as your phone wallpaper to remind you whenever you go on your phone (if you want to be as extra as I am).
3. Take a probiotic
By now, you know that you should be taking a probiotic supplement (to add more good-for-the-gut bacteria into your intestines — duh!), but you might not be actually taking one every day. A lack of good bacteria in your gut does not only show up in bloat, stomach aches, or digestive issues, but it can also show up in your mental health, skin issues, or even the health of your hair. Whether you’re aiming for healthier digestion, better focus, or Blake Lively hair, a probiotic will make a big difference in your overall health. Make sure to pop a pill every day or get enough probiotic-rich foods (like sauerkraut or kimchi) in your diet.
4. Go for a walk
Walking is not only good for your Fitbit (anyone else care more about reaching 10,000 steps than just about anything else in the world?), it’s good for your physical and mental health. Taking a walk increases heart rate and strengthens muscles, even if it doesn’t feel like a workout. You might have also heard of walking meditation as a way to get inspiration, clear the mind, or boost your mood. So take your lunch break to do some walking or go on a walk after dinner. If it’s still cold outside or your only time for a walk is way past nightfall (safety first!), one of my favorite hacks is watching the latest Game of Thrones or answering emails while walking incline on the treadmill.
5. Have a cup of green tea
Take a lesson from some of the most ancient health practices in the world that have used tea as an inherent part of optimal health for centuries — tea is loaded with numerous health benefits, with green leading the pack as one of the healthiest. It is loaded with many antioxidants, including EGCG, which has been used to treat many diseases. Green tea also increases physical performance, improves brain function, and kills bad bacteria. Replace your second cup of coffee with a green tea for a powerful health boost.
6. Take an hour break from your phone
You know it will be good for you, and yet, it’s SO. HARD. TO. DO. But commit to your health and put your phone down right now (or maybe after you finish reading this article) — a break from your phone is not only miraculously good for your mental health, but it will also ensure you’re spending your time productively. Getting work done, working out, or even just reading a book is so much easier and more peaceful without the temptation of your phone staring at you.
7. Add a slice of ginger to your smoothie or tea
Ginger can help nausea and cramps, but the superfood root is also known to be an intense inflammation reducer. If you’re feeling a cold coming on or just want an easy health hack to feel like you have your shit together, add a pinch of fresh ginger to your smoothie or tea, and maybe even post about it on Instagram (it will help with the I-don’t-have-my-shit-together thing).
8. Dry brush before your shower
While we typically focus on “getting healthier” from the inside out, the lymphatic system is also important for our bodies to function properly. The buzzed about lymphatic system is a network of tissues and organs that is in charge of ridding the body of waste and toxins. The lymphatic vessels are similar to the circulatory system (like veins and capillaries), in that they can be targeted from the outside. Detox your body by getting a lymphatic massage, doing infrared sauna, or dry brushing (the easiest DIY) to detox your lymphatic system and help improve circulation.
9. Go to sleep 30 minutes earlier tonight
Achieving a goal of 8-9 hours of sleep every night seems like a steep goal for those of us who feel like we have things to do for 24 hours a day. But you know what doesn’t seem as steep? Just getting into bed 30 minutes earlier tonight than your usual bedtime. 30 minutes is probably the amount of time you spend scrolling through Instagram or sitting on your bed in your towel after your shower (that’s right, I see you). Put the phone down, get your night cream on, and get into bed. If 30 minutes still feels like too much, try just five minutes earlier and add an extra five minutes every night until you’re sleeping for 7-9 hours.
10. Make a meal out of only seasonal produce
Eating seasonly doesn’t mean you’re restricted to local produce — you can still load up on all your organic fruits and veggies at the grocery store, market, or delivery service (again, no judgment!) of your choice. What it does mean is that the fruits and vegetables you’re eating will be grown more naturally and locally than eating fruit out of season (aka more nutrients than your basic year-round produce). Check out this seasonal food guide to see what foods are growing this season in your area and make an entire meal out of only seasonal produce.
You’ve heard of the importance of stretching post-workout for flexible muscles, right? But stretching is good for your overall health as well. Taking a stretch break or adding some stretches into your morning/night routine helps prevent injuries, manages pain, improves endurance, helps you stay balanced, and counteracts the negative effects of sitting for long periods of time. Go ahead and get your downward dog on.
12. Take your time when you eat
If your eating schedule looks anything like mine, it goes as such: slurping back a smoothie on your morning commute, shoveling salad into your mouth in front of the computer at lunchtime, and eating a bowl of chickpea pasta accompanied by an extra dramatic episode of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills for dinner. Sound like your day to day? It’s so easy to get into the habit of eating on-the-go or behind a screen when life gets busy, but taking time to thoroughly chew food and eat slowly is better for digestion — it’s easier on the stomach (so no more uncomfortable bloat or stomach pain!), and chewing about 30 times per mouthful (yes, that many!) stimulates enough digestive enzymes to break down the food. RHOBH can wait.
13. Add leafy greens to your meal
Leafy greens like kale, spinach, romaine, and arugula are some of the healthiest foods in the world. They’re loaded with vitamins, minerals, and fiber, while being incredibly low in calories. They prevent aging, help your heart, detoxify your blood and your organs (including your skin!), and feed your gut. I like to include leafy greens in two meals a day, but you can start as simple as adding kale to your pasta tonight or asking for a side salad whenever you eat out.
14. Head outside
Even just five minutes outside can decrease cortisol levels and boost your mood. Sun gives you a boost of good-for-you Vitamin D, and being outdoors makes you feel more awake and alert. Bring your work outside, go for a walk (see: #4), or even just take your lunch break outside your office building (just don’t forget sunscreen or else you’ll be doing more harm than good… you’ve been warned!).
15. Clean out your pantry
And now for the tough love part: healthy habits start with what you surround yourself with. Next time you have an extra 10 minutes to kill, throw out half-eaten bags of Doritos, or donate unopened boxes/bags/cans of processed foods. There’s likely some kind of uneaten and unhealthy food in the back of your pantry that you’ll tell yourself you won’t eat, but will be reaching for late at night or when you’re feeling too lazy to make yourself a meal. Spring clean your pantry like you would your closet — get rid of what doesn’t spark joy, and only keep what does.
16. Add herbs to every meal
Basil on pizza or cilantro in soup sounds like a fancy garnish, but herbs are a critical way to get detoxifying, inflammation-taming phytonutrients into the body. The reason these tiny little greens are so potent is because they’re packed with antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins. Not only will adding fresh herbs like basil, cilantro, mint, or parsley to each meal make your food so much more flavorful, but it will regulate the digestive system, boost the immune system, provide anti-bacterial properties, and more.
17. Take a breath (seriously)
While I’m a big believer in taking a deep breath in the middle of stressful moments (think: that tight work deadline or when your mom is reminding you to pay your taxes again), breathing does much more for your health than just work as a coping mechanism for stress. Deep breathing actually stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which stimulates hormone production, oxygenates the blood, releases muscle tension, eases digestion, and decreases cortisol levels. Take 5-10 expansive belly breaths (meaning you’re breathing through your stomach, not your chest or throat) as often as you remember throughout the day and before each meal.