12 Quick Steps to Kick Off a Healthy Year

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The term “New Year’s resolutions” has become a punchline. 

In mid-December, you join a gym membership that offers unlimited classes. You envision your early mornings churning away on an exercise bike, feeling invigorated for the day ahead. Or you’ll finally shake that TV-rerun habit and do an evening yin yoga class.

Any of that sound familiar?

Eating, exercise, and lifestyle modifications are among the top resolutions most people make for the New Year. Those resolutions include eating better, moving more, stressing less, and finally getting those eight hours of sleep every night.

Here’s the bad news: About half of New Year’s resolutions fail.

One reason they fall through the cracks is lack of time. Maybe you become overly ambitious that you’ll start running five mornings a week for that spring marathon. But on that first snowy January day, your garage leaks and one of your kids gets sick. 

Result: That morning run goes on the backburner.

Big, lofty goals keep you motivated. They can also feel overwhelming when you tackle too much at once.

Here’s a better way to approach those resolutions. What you do on a daily basis — the little habits that make up your day — accumulate and help you reach your bigger resolutions. 

Put another way, a healthy year with a healthy start means creating and sustaining small but measurable wins.

Think of these investments like putting money away in the bank. If you save the three dollars you spend on coffee daily, you’ll have 100 dollars by the end of the month.

So, too, with these 12 “little wins” that add up big. They require 10 minutes or less, but their reward — the immediate and bigger-picture wins — add up quickly. 

Apply one of these strategies for every month of the year, or tackle several at once. They don’t cost much time, but they repay dividends on your weight, happiness, and overall health.

1. Practice mindfulness. Mindfulness — the art of being present and aware in the moment — can reduce anxiety and depression, improve your body image, help your brain work better, and so much more. Being mindful might include 10 minutes of morning meditation, yoga poses, or deep breathing. Or you could simply create a reminder to bring your mind back into the moment. Because right now is all that any of us have! A great way to begin practicing mindfulness is at the table. In our fast-faster society, checking texts, responding to emails, or otherwise multitasking while you’re eating becomes very tempting. Stay in the moment, really savor what you’re eating, and pay attention to how foods impact your body. 

2. Fit in more movement. Amidst the numerous tasks you juggle, you probably don’t have an hour to fit in at the gym or a fitness class. But every little bit of movement counts. When you park further away from the supermarket door or take the stairs instead of an elevator, you fit in little moments of movement into your day. Every one of those moments adds up for your overall health. 

3. Invest more in your health. Almost everyone has money habits that aren’t stellar. Maybe you’re victim to the impulse buys at the front of your grocery store. An occasional splurge can be fun, but those little things add up quickly. What if you invested in your health instead? Use that money you spend on takeout coffee or snacks for our Daily Essentials For Men and Women.

4. Make simple swaps. If you’ve resolved to start a diet on a particular day, you know how tempting it can be to say I’ll eat nothing but salads come Monday! That all-or-nothing approach can easily backfire. Instead, try making simple changes throughout your day. 

  • Swap out that empty-nutrient starch for another vegetable. 
  • Use zucchini squash instead of whole wheat pasta. 
  • Try our delicious Zucchini Fries instead of regular fries. 
  • Enjoy mineral water instead of soda. 
  • Switch out sugar, empty-calorie hot chocolate for our Coconut Milk Hot Cocoa.

You’ll find many of these simple swaps equally satisfying but easy ways to dial up your health!  

5. Find your de-stressor… and make it a habit. Stress can come in many different flavors, but they all sabotage your health and wellbeing. You can’t eliminate stress, but you can manage the inevitable things life throws your way more effectively. Pinpoint when your stress points hit. Let’s say mornings feel like torture. You’re running late for work, your kids are lagging, and you spilled coffee all over your new shirt. Find ways to minimize that impact. That might mean laying out everything the night before, giving yourself extra time in the morning, or taking 10 minutes to meditate and start your day. 

6. Read an inspiring book. Our plugged-in society means we’re constantly inundated with bad news, which can take a hit to our happiness and wellbeing. An easy way to balance that negativity — which is sometimes hard to avoid — is with an inspirational book. (A real book! Although an e-reader that only accesses reading material makes a good travel companion.) Read a chapter every morning, before you go to bed, or any time you need a quick pick-me-up.

7. Replace a bad habit with a good one. Nearly everyone has that one habit that stalls their success. Maybe you waste time shopping online or gossip too much at the office. Take 10 minutes to transform that time into something productive. Maybe you use that 10 minutes to tidy up rather than scroll through Instagram. Pay attention to your overall wellbeing, energy levels, and motivations when you up-level these habits.

8. Call a friend or loved one. Emails, texts, and friendly hellos on social media have replaced phone calls. While more convenient, nothing quite replaces the feeling someone gets when they hear your voice. Take a few minutes to call someone and tell them how much they mean to you. Calling someone will lift your spirits, and you never know how significantly it will improve their day. 

9. Do some bodyweight exercises. Commercials will probably be part of your TV shows. Optimize that time. Pushups, planks, wall sits, situps, and dips are great exercises that you can fit in a minute or less: Perfect during TV commercials or when you need to step away from your desk.  

10. Walk around the block. If you have a dog, you’re familiar with that neighborhood walk. But why not get out and move more period? Fresh air can boost your morale and mindset, make you more social with your neighbors, and break your day’s routine. Bonus: Get a pedometer or use your smartphone to track your steps. If you’re sedentary, even 2,000 extra steps daily can give you a solid health boost.

11. Throw together a quick, healthy meal. Putting together a healthy, delicious meal doesn’t require hours of prep work and cooking. Our Chicken Fajitas takes just minutes to prepare and will disappear just as quickly! 

12. Make breakfast a smoothie. Mornings tend to be a busy time for most people, and breakfast sometimes takes the backburner. You know how important eating a nutrient-rich meal is in the morning and how much better you feel throughout the day. Smoothies are an easy solution. You can even prep the ingredients the evening before. Smoothies make a fast, filling, yummy way to start your day in less than 10 minutes! You’ll find plenty of satisfying recipes including our Banana Protein Shake here

Ideally, you’ll tackle one of these tasks every month of the year. Over time, they will create big changes throughout your life. You’ll look back at the end of the year and see how they’ve dramatically improved your health and happiness. 

Even with these time-efficient strategies, getting and staying healthy might feel like a daunting task. 

What to eat, how to move, and how to live healthily can feel confusing when the media offers conflicting theories about how to best eat or your best friend tells you about an exercise program that your doctor dismisses.

But we do have a science-based, results-driven blueprint that helps you optimize your health simply and effectively.

The 5 Essentials™ focuses on chiropractic care, simple and clean nutrition, a clear mindset, oxygen and exercise, and minimizing toxin exposure. You can focus on any of these five principles individually or combined. 

You can learn more about the 5 Essentials™ here. To get a more comprehensive perspective, Dr. B.J. Hardick’s book Align Your Health provides everything you need to know about taking control of your health. Dr. Hardick knows that a one-size-fits-all plan doesn’t fit everyone. At the same time, he provides common principles that empower you to eat better, move better, and feel better. 

The simple yet profound changes in this book can transform your life. You’ll have the knowledge, the power, and the tools to align your health. Order your copy of Align Your Health here