12 Steps to a Healthier 2014

If you’re targeting a new, improved healthier you in 2014, why not start small with these easily achievable steps.

Remember, slow and steady wins the race...

1. Drink more water Yes, we know that trying to consume two litres of water a day can feel like a drag, but once you get into the routine and feel the positive effects, you’ll wonder how you ever got by with less. Amongst its many benefits, water aids concentration, digestion and boosts skin condition – not bad for a free beverage.

2. Eat breakfast every day People always harp on about breakfast being the most important meal of the day; thing is, it’s true. A healthy breakfast gets your metabolism straight to work after its night-time lull, gives your body the energy and nutrients it needs to attack the day and prevents mid-morning snacking. Just be wary of high sugar cereals.

3. Substitute bad for good A blanket substitution of every bad item in your cupboard for good is obviously going to be far more than you can stomach. Instead, try just one or two switches. If you’re a voracious red meat eater, make the first day of the week ‘meat-free Monday’ by selecting a healthy vegetarian option instead. If you’re a heavy coffee drinker, see how green tea takes your fancy. Every step is a positive step.

4. Meet friends for a walk instead of a coffee For some, catching up with friends over a coffee or slightly stiffer drink is so routine it’s like breathing. While there’s no need to cut it out completely, why not take advantage of the summer rays and trade the cafe for a walk-and-talk in the outside world? Yes, that curious sensation you’re feeling is fresh air filling your lungs.

5. Set a fitness goal Exercise is always more fun and motivation easier to come by if you have some event to channel your energies toward. Try getting a team together for a fun run, thereby adding a social aspect and with it a support system. Running for a charitable cause may give you another level of inspiration, allowing you to change the lives of others while changing yours.

6. Aim for two serves of fruit and five serves of veggies a day Factoring fruit and vegetables into your daily diet probably seems like the ultimate chore if you prefer your food fried with a side order of fried, but with so many tasty options out there it’s never been easier to fill your body with the good stuff. If your side salad still looks like rabbit food, you’re simply not using your imagination at the supermarket.

7. Cook more meals at home Along with a little peace and quiet, cooking and eating a meal at home allows you one very important thing: control. Since menus don’t list calorie counts, eating out leaves you vulnerable to all those delicious but dastardly things you really ought to be cutting out. Note: eating takeout at home does not count as a home-cooked meal.

8. Set aside more time for yourself to relax Don’t get so carried away plotting changes to your routine that you forget to set aside time to chill out. Put your feet up and treat yourself to a good book as a reward for your health-conscious endeavours. Relaxing activities that feed the mind are the best.

9. Have at least two alcohol-free days a week After a hard day at work it’s easy to give in to the compulsion of cracking open a bottle of red or a beer, but try resisting at least a few days a week. There are a multitude of reasons why alcohol is far from your body’s friend, but for starters keep in mind that it’s a calorie minefield just waiting to make your body explode to unhealthy proportions.

10. Go to bed earlier Being active requires energy, which you’re likely to be in painfully short supply of if you’ve been burning the candle at both ends, or glued to the box until the wee small hours. Make a conscious decision to shave even an hour off your usual bed time – you’ll be amazed what a difference it makes.

11. Do something you haven’t tried before If you’re one of the many who find going to the gym a bore, look for physical activities that are more likely to raise your interest as well as your heart rate. Since it’s the New Year, perhaps aim to do something you’ve never done before – a dance class, a surf lesson... the world’s your oyster.

12. Be active every day in as many ways as you can
Walking/riding to work, taking the stairs, picking up the groceries rather than getting them delivered – examine your daily routine and see how you can switch existing habits for healthier ones. These needn’t require backbreaking effort on your part, just some sensible thinking and a little resolve.