5 Small Actions to Take in the New Year to Improve Your Health

Around this time of year, our social media feeds are often flooded with articles about “how to be your best self in the new year” or “ways to be healthier this year” etc etc etc. When you’re just starting your health journey or know you want to be more health conscious but aren’t sure where to start, these articles can be paralyzing. Rather than overwhelm you, I want to share five really small things you can start doing immediately to take better care of yourself in the New Year.

1)   Drink 16 oz (2 cups) of water when you wake up every single day. Last year, I noticed that I would get to school an hour after waking up completely dehydrated already. This would sometimes set me up to get a headache within the next hour or so. This past year, I have made it a priority to drink water FIRST THING. I save my old Kombucha bottles (I keep about five at a time) and rinse them, then fill them with water to keep in the fridge. That way, I ALWAYS have a 16 oz cold container of water in the fridge. Sometimes super cold water feels harsh when I first wake up, especially in the winter, so sometimes I’ll keep one of these bottles next to my bed so I can wake and drink! Water hydrates you, it flushes out toxins, gets your metabolism going, and helps you make good choices about what to eat (sometimes we think we’re starving but we’re actually just THIRSTY, so making sure you drink water when you wake up will help your brain and stomach stay clear on what they’re actually craving).

2)   Eat breakfast. Yes, there are lots of ways to get the biggest “bang for your buck” at breakfast time (eat something high in good fats and proteins/low in sugar/etc), but for the purposes of new years resolutions, just start by committing to eating SOMETHING. If you make lunch your first meal of the day, there is a very high chance that you are going to be starving by the time lunch comes and also that you’re not going to be in a position to make healthy choices (because you are so hungry you’ll eat anything).  Also you’ll probably get mad at kids because you’re hungry, and that’s just not nice!

3)   Don’t put so much pressure on every meal AKA eat snacks. Snacking in-between meals is so important. When you only eat at meal times, you’re so much more likely to be super hungry which often leads to overeating and for some people shameful feelings and/or stomach aches. It might sound like a contradiction to the resolution to “eat breakfast,” but if you’re not having breakfast, you’re actually putting so much pressure on your other meals and setting up your body to feel somewhat starved all day. Have you ever grocery shopped while hungry? I have! What thing did you buy that you didn’t actually want? When we’re hungry, our ability to make smart food decisions often goes out the window. Take control of your snacks and stop letting yourself feel hangry when lunch comes. Stock your classroom with things you love and that fill you up in-between meals. Here are some things I always keep in my classroom:

·      Nuts and dark chocolate (I buy the Trader Joe’s snack mixes, but you can also make your own)

·      Popcorn (I opt for brands made with popcorn, a healthy oil like avocado/coconut/olive, and salt and that’s IT)

·      Granola bars (the lower the sugar/higher the protein the better)

·      Healthy crackers and nut butter or sunflower butter if you can’t eat nuts

4)   Invest in a blender. If you like smoothies and spend money on them, you’ll save money in the long run by buying a blender. When you make your own smoothies, you have total control of what goes in them, which is huge for your health (because many store bought smoothies are packed with added sugars). I was really into buying “cold pressed juices” for a while and, while I still like them, I’m actually a bigger fan of blending because it preserves all the nutrients in your fruits and veggies because you’re eating the WHOLE fruit/veggie. I’m not a huge fan of leafy greens like kale or spinach, but I love to sneak these into my fruit smoothies because you basically don’t taste them if you choose fruits you love, but you get the nutrients (my go-to smoothie is 1 banana, a handful of frozen blueberries, 1 cup milk, 1 big handful of spinach, and some kind of collagen* or protein powder + chia seeds). No bitter spinach tastes here!

*I use Further Food Collagen Peptides and have a discount code for you all – enter cookbookish10 at checkout for 10% off. Incorporating this into my diet has really strengthened my hair/skin/nails.

5)   Take a probiotic. Probiotics are huge in taking control of your health. Basically, probiotics are GOOD bacteria that help keep your gut healthy. About 80% of our immune system is located in our gut, and so having a healthy immune system depends on having more good than bad bacteria in the gut. Good immune system = healthy teachers = happy teachers. Take care of your gut, friends! You can also eat foods that have natural probiotics in them like yogurt/sourdough bread/kimchi/Kombucha, but if that feels like a lot, just take a probiotic in capsule form to start.

What are small changes you’ve made that have really impacted your health? I would love to hear in the comments! Happy new year friends!