Diet, gym and calories are three little words which get thrown around a lot this time of year.
New year, new you – right? Wrong. Studies show approximately 80% of new year resolutions will fail by the second week of February. Ouch.
Instead of embarking on a crazy new diet or strict gym routine, focus your energy on wellness.
That’s right, optimal health and wellness aren’t earned by flogging yourself on the treadmill. In fact, it’s easier than you think.
Simple changes every day will do wonders for your health and well-being.
Here are 10 meaningful daily health challenge ideas that focus on all-round wellness rather than a number on the scale.
Don’t Over-Sit Your Stay
Sitting disease is a thing, and it’s making us tired, increasing insulin levels, slowing down the metabolism and generally making us more grumpy.
The good news is, it’s easy to treat – stand up more.
A new study found standing burns approximately 0.15 calories more per minute compared to sitting.
It might not sound like much, but every minute, day and week all adds up.
Challenge yourself: If you work at a desk, set hourly reminders to get up and stretch your legs or invest in an adjustable stand up desk.
Cook More Whole Foods
Craving pizza? Cook it yourself and turn an indulgent meal into a healthy option.
Making your own food is the easiest way to eat healthier.
Dining out gives us a lot of delicious options calling for strong willpower to order the ‘healthy’ option.
When you cook at home, you’re eliminating the opportunity to order an impulsive side of french fries, garlic bread or dessert.
Making your own meals also means you know exactly what’s going into your food. Plus, there are plenty of ways to swap naughty ingredients for fresher options.
Fill up your pantry and fridge with ingredients that are as close to their natural form as possible.
Whole foods such as fresh fruit and vegetables, lentils, rolled oats, raw nuts, beans, rice, and whole grains make a nutritious base for home cooked meals.
Click here for some healthy whole food recipe ideas the whole family will love.
Challenge yourself: Pick one meal of the day (either breakfast, lunch or dinner) and commit to preparing it yourself every day for one week. For example, if you usually eat out on your work break, try bringing in your own lunches.
At the end of the week – see how you went! If you enjoyed preparing your own meals and/or feel better because of it, ramp it up and prep an additional meal each day.
Spice Things Up
If you like to season your meals Salt Bae style, do your heart a favour and swap the salt for herbs and spices.
High salt intake has been linked to high blood pressure, which increases your risk of heart disease, stroke, heart failure, and kidney disease.
While salt does have its health benefits, a healthy recommendation is between 1.5 grams and 2.3 grams of sodium per day. To put that into perspective, two rashes of bacon have 3.3 grams of sodium. You with us?
Reduce your salt intake and say hello to new, healthy flavours.
Cinnamon, ginger, and cardamom add a sweet yet spicy kick to breakfast cereals, oatmeal, and chia pudding while garlic, cumin, rosemary, oregano, basil, black pepper, cayenne, and turmeric are winning flavours for savoury dishes.
There are loads of health benefits associated with herbs and spices.
Each one delivers superfood-like benefits all while adding some serious flavour to your food.
Challenge yourself: Cook with something new! Try a new spice or cook with an existing one in a new way. Turmeric latte, anyone?
Sip On This
H2O is essential for the circulation of nutrients in the body. If we are dehydrated, all the good nutrients for our hair, skin, brain, and stomach can’t reach their destination as well and do their job properly.
It’s important to drink plenty of water throughout the day.
The amount of water needed per day varies between individuals. It all depends on body size, your sweat rate, training intensity and duration, what you eat and the local temperature and humidity.
The key is to regularly sip on water rather than sculling large boluses and needing to visit the toilet every 10 minutes.
Drinking 1-2 glasses of water with every snack or meal helps with food digestion and improve fluid absorption.
Challenge yourself: Don’t forget your water bottle! Try carrying one around with you for seven days and sip on the go.
See how you feel at the end of the week and with trial and error, find your sweet spot and set a daily goal.
Love Your Labels
Food packaging has come a long way since paper bags and milk bottles.
However, colourful designs and clever marketing can lead us to think a product is healthy without actually knowing what’s inside.
Look beyond the graphics and start reading nutrition labels.
As a general rule, the fewer ingredients, the better. Also, if you don’t know at least 3 ingredients, chances are it’s full of unwanted preservatives.
Challenge yourself: Check before you buy. Look for the sodium, carbohydrates, sugar, and fat to see if the product suits your nutrition goals.
Find A Hobby
Optimal health and wellness aren’t all about what you eat or how fit you are.
Simply enjoying a hobby will do your health wonders. Hobbies help reduce stress, sharpen the mind, increase social wellness, and even make you more efficient at time management!
Some healthy hobby ideas include arts and crafts, playing an instrument, chess, hiking, card games, crossword puzzles, and brain teasers.
Challenge yourself: Don’t have a hobby yet? Write a list of things you’ve always wanted to try and get cracking this year. Work down the list until you find something you love.
Chill Out and Have a Cuppa
This one is a double whammy.
Taking just 10 minutes of alone time every morning can help reduce the stress hormone cortisol in the body, which peaks first thing in the morning.
Boost the benefits and add tea. Whether you like black tea, herbal teas or green tea, there are loads of health benefits associated with every brew.
Having a quiet cuppa every morning is one simple (and enjoyable) way to look after yourself daily.
Challenge yourself: Wake up 10 minutes earlier each morning over the next week and take some time to sit outside (if the weather permits; otherwise bring it indoors!) and enjoy your favourite cup of tea.
If you feel more centred in the morning, you might want to adopt this as an everyday thing.
No, we’re not referring to social media. Put the phone down and have a real conversation face-to-face, no emojis necessary.
Social wellness is often overlooked in today’s so-called connected world of social media.
An overload of studies has linked higher social media use to poorer mental health, including depression, anxiety, feelings of loneliness and lower self-esteem.
Never underestimate the power of human connection. Spending time with friends and family can relieve stress and enhance mood.
Challenge yourself: There are two ways you could go about this. The first is to develop existing relationships by making an effort to dig deeper. The second is meeting new people to have conversations with.
You can try both – but we recommend picking the more meaningful challenge for you at this point in time.
The great outdoors is just that – great.
Not only do we need air, food, and resources to survive, nature is essential for our well-being.
Spending time outside leads to better mental health, reduced stress and anxiety, increased self-esteem, better mood, increased concentration, enhanced creativity and more.
All you have to do is walk out the front door.
Challenge yourself: Soak up the best of nature by going on a hike at least once a month. Simply find interesting walks in or around your city and make a day or weekend out of it!
Say Hello To Snoozeville
Sleep is just as important as exercise and nutrition.
It’s the time our body gets to flush away toxins, repair muscles, and reset itself to conquer the next day.
Essentially, all aspects of our life benefit from a good night’s sleep – mood, energy, work performance, fitness, relationships, appetite control, concentration and more.
So, what’s the magic number? Some of us need 7 hours while others need 9-10 hours. Turns out there’s no magic number, but there is a magic formula.
To find out your lucky number of Z’s, go to bed the same time every night until you wake up the same time every morning without an alarm clock.
If you’re unable to do this due to work or other commitments, give it a go during your holidays or get a few early nights in a row until you establish a pattern.
Challenge yourself: Get a full eight hours of sleep every night for a week. If you’re feeling more refreshed than ever before, great! Keep it up. If you’re not quite there yet – try adjusting your sleep duration (give or take a couple of hours) until you find what works for you. Sweet dreams!