100 ways to improve your body-mind-spirit and change your life in 2017

January 7, 2017

 

Being healthier doesn't have to mean overhauling your entire lifestyle. Instead, the most effective way to meet any goal, experts say, is through a series of small, sustainable changes. From eating more carrots to watching animal videos (check out thedodo.com), small changes – practiced daily – can add up to a big impact in how you think, feel and look. Here are 100 that work to improve your mind, body and spirit.

 

Body

 

1. Just do it. No matter kind of activity you choose – walking, yoga or kick boxing – move your body and get active at least 60 minutes every day. Fitness is a catalyst for positive change that affects every aspect of your life. Your body is a reflection of your lifestyle.

2. Lift heavy. Free weights are challenging because they force you to stabilize the weight and build functional strength. Lifting heavier weights builds muscle and speeds up your metabolism so that you’ll burn more fat even when you’re not working out.

3. Multi-task your body. Focus on exercises that recruit multiple muscle groups at the same time – compound exercises such as squats, lunges or burpees are not only efficient, but improve muscle tone, endurance and coordination. Exercises that use more muscles also improve your cardio fitness since compound movements require the body to pump more blood and oxygen to more muscles at once.

4. Don’t get discouraged. Focus on your long term fitness goals and don't give up. Even if you don’t physically see results yet, know that every single effort you make is changing your body from the inside. And every day is another chance to get stronger, eat better, liver healthier and be a better version of yourself.

5. Drink water. It's on every list of ways to improve your health for a reason – it’s one of the simplest things you can do – several times a day – to get healthier. Most of us are dehydrated – so keep your organs and joints healthy by drinking more water. Add cucumber, lemon, or orange to flavor it.

6. Eat whole grains. Because they contain all edible parts of the grain, whole grains offer the “complete package” of health benefits and help to lower your risk of chronic illness such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer. They also contribute to healthy weight management and GI health.

7. Steam your vegetables. Steaming your vegetables is one of the healthiest ways to cook your greens – it helps retain their vitamins and minerals and it protects their antioxidant properties.

8. Eat sardines. Along with avocados, legumes, salmon and nuts – they’re packed with protein and rich in Omega-3 fats.

9. Go to bed earlier. How well you sleep at night impacts the quality of your day – including your immunity, hunger levels, energy and ability to manage stress. Make sure you get at least 7 – 8 hours every night.

10. Cut your hair. Coco Channel knew the power of a good haircut when she said: “A woman who cuts her hair is about to change her life.”

11. Narrow your food choices. Try picking two healthy breakfasts, lunches and dinners and rotate them for the week. Simplifying your meal choices makes it easier to eat healthy and avoid binging.

12. Wear sunscreen. Most of what is called aging is actually sun damage. Wearing sunscreen daily lowers your risk of developing skin cancer and can save your skin from cellular damage that can make you look old before your time.

13. Practice yoga. There are exceptional benefits to hitting the mat, including stress and anxiety relief, better balance and increased flexibility. And it will improve your mind and spirit as much as your body.

14. Start foam rolling. Think of foam rolling as a deep tissue massage you give yourself to keep your fascia (the fibrous layer of connective tissue surrounding our muscles) mobile, ease pain and improve flexibility.

15. Eat cleaner. Cut out artificial sweeteners, refined carbs and anything that comes out of a box or has colors not found in nature. Don’t feel deprived when you turn down junk food, feel empowered that you made a really healthy choice.

16. Do 10 pushups every day. They may be old-school, but they’re quick and effective. And that new-found upper body strength will help you feel awesome.

17. Eat consciously. Self-esteem begins with your body – when you eat like crap, you feel like crap. The food you choose to nourish yourself is a form of self-respect.

18. Stand up straight. Pull your shoulders back and tighten your abs – good posture will help your body work more efficiently, keep your muscles properly aligned, relieve aches and pains, and help you look taller and slimmer.

19. Try a neti pot. It’s a great way to naturally rinse your sinuses, flush away nasal congestion and stave off bacteria and germs.

20. Don’t forget to floss. Research reports that bacteria from dental plaque can enter your bloodstream and cause an array of health problems. Keep your mouth healthy by brushing and flossing twice a day to lower the risk of heart disease, dementia and stroke.

21. Get a mammogram. Or a colonoscopy. We know, we know. But both exams are the most effective early screening tools available to detect breast and colon cancer once you’ve reached “a certain age.”

22. Dry brush your body. Your skin, the largest organ in the human body, is an organ of elimination. One third of your body’s toxins are excreted through the skin and dry brushing helps to unclog pores and excrete trapped toxins. It also increases blood circulation, stimulates your lymphatic system and improves your skin tone.

23. Drink a glass of lemon water every morning. This deceptively simple drink provides endless health benefits: it hydrates, is packed with vitamin C, aids digestion, boosts your immune system, helps detoxification, rejuvenates the skin and has fat-burning benefits.

24. Stop smoking. You already know this – improve your health, finances, appearance, and quality of life by putting out your cigarettes.

25. Eat less meat. Reducing or eliminating the amount of meat you eat has so many benefits – look better, feel better and save the planet. Also, vegetarians have a 10 percent lower risk of premature death than carnivores.

26. Change up your diet. You are, in a vast proportion, what you eat. Try new healthy foods for a dramatic boost of your health and energy. It doesn’t necessarily have to be raw food, macrobiotic, paleo or vegetarian. Just eat like you give a damn about yourself.

27. Listen to your body. When you’re exhausted, don’t fight it. When you feel stressed out, take a break. Learn to listen to the signals that your body sends out and respond in the right way.

28. Buy a good mattress. You wouldn’t run a marathon without the right sneakers. The same is true for sleeping. Since we spend a third of our lives in bed – don’t skimp on your mattress.

29. Paint your toenails red. Or blue. You’ll get a tingle of excitement every time you look at your feet.

 

Mind

 

30. Clean up your desk. Too much clutter in your world can overload your cognitive neural network. Decluttering your work space will declutter your mind.

31. Make your bed every morning. When you make your bed every morning you’ve accomplished the first task of the day, which can build momentum for everything else you want to get done.

32. Unplug and unwind. We live in a world where we’re always connected to everyone. Don’t let your devices rule your life – log off social media, shut down your phone, and disconnect from the world for an hour every day for a digital detox

33. Read a new book every week. Exercise your brain with a good book and let go of the day’s tensions with a great escape. Alternatively, read an interesting selection of blogs and old-school print magazines. Both will keep your mind alert and engaged.

34. Learn one new thing a day. An entire world of knowledge is just a google away. Engage new areas of your brain by learning a new word, a scientific fact, a life hack or a new skill – it’s never been easier to learn something unexpected every day.  

35. Stop putting things off. Life rewards action – nothing great is accomplished without it. Procrastination and putting off the things you hope to avoid only makes them seem worse – and makes you feel bad about yourself. Do your most important tasks first thing in the morning when your energy is the highest.

36. Play mind games. Start enjoying solitaire, Sudoku, crossword puzzles, brain teasers or graphic illusions to improve your mental sharpness and clarity. Activities that are fun and challenge your brain improve your memory, reaction time and cognitive ability.

37. Let go of worry. Most of the things we fear and worry about never actually happen – they’re just monsters we’ve created in our mind. Reduce your anxiety by letting go of the things we can’t control and trust that the future holds good things for you.

38. Create a vision board for yourself. Visualization is one of the most powerful mind exercises you can do. Create a vision board to help bring your aspirations to life and remind yourself of the goals you’re working toward.

39. Change the way you make decisions. Decide something with your heart if you usually use your head. Or, if you tend to make emotionally-based decisions, try a more rational approach that uses your head.

40. Step out of your comfort zone. Change is frightening and most of us do everything we can to avoid it. If you want to grow, you need to push past the familiar. Break your routine and do something bold – be spontaneous or do the thing you think you can’t. You are your only limit.

41. Stop multitasking. We think we’re getting more done when we do several things at once. In reality, our productivity drops. Decide to do one thing and do it well – take one task at a time to be more productive and effective.

42. Switch hands. Do you always hold you cup of coffee with your right hand? Try using your less dominant hand for simple tasks – changing hands really stimulates the brain.

43. Repeat a positive mantra. Find a motivational quote and repeat it to yourself when challenges arise in your life. It can help you stay centered and calm during difficult times.

44. Keep a beginner’s mind. Staying curious will help you keep an open mind and learn new ideas. A beginner’s mind is empty and receptive – it’s about setting aside your preconceived beliefs and assumptions to make room for new and better ones.

45. Break a bad habit. We do a lot of stuff on autopilot, without thinking. Habits sneak into our lives because they make our life easier, not necessarily better. Take an honest inventory of your habits. Quit smoking or stop surfing the ‘net for hours. Work to give it up and change your life for the better.

46. Shorten your to-do list. Instead of making a huge list of things you want to accomplish, focus on completing the three most important items for that day – it forces you to prioritize your most important goals and gives you a fighting chance to actually getting them done.

47. Explore a new job or career. Life's too short to spend your day working for a terrible boss, feeling unfulfilled or being taken advantage of. If you’re not satisfied with your current job, update your resume and start exploring new options.

48. Keep a journal. Write down your feelings, ideas, goals and plans. Journaling can help you find clarity in difficult situations and put you in tune with how you’re feeling.

49. Re-organize your home. Re-arrange the furniture. Re-hang your pictures. Re-paint a wall – or all of them. Make the place where you live beautiful and enjoyable.

50. Start a blog. On whatever topic you want. Not only it will give you the opportunity to create something new and valuable, but it will also bring new people into your life. Blogging is far more than a hype – it’s a personal development tool that allows you express yourself and connect with others.

51. Get off Facebook. It drives the comparison game that makes you feel bad about yourself.

52. Take another route to work. Mixing up your routine in small ways creates new neural pathways in the brain to keep it healthy.

53. Write a personal mission statement. You’re here for a reason. Take the time to write your personal vision. It will bring light and direction into your life. When you find your purpose and are able to share it with the rest of the world, you will continue to raise your level of consciousness.

54. Stop complaining. Complaining is like an open invitation for trouble and pain. The more you complain about something, the more of it you invite into your life. Cut it out. You don’t get any comfort out of complaining, only troubles.

55. Wake up an hour earlier. Stop pressing the snooze button. Waking up early isn’t a habit, it’s a lifestyle.  Get up, have a quiet cup of tea, eat a high protein breakfast, go for a walk, make your to-do list for the day and head off to work with plenty of time to spare.

56. Clear your mind of can’t. Your body can stand almost anything. It’s your mind that you have to convince.

 

Spirit

 

57. Spend time with inspiring people. Spend more time with people who are smart, creative and like-minded. Relationships should help you, not hurt you. Surround yourself with people who reflect the person you want to become.

58. Just say no. Whether it's because of genuinely wanting to help or the fear of being rejected, every time you fail to say "no" you place the satisfaction of others ahead of your own. Saying “no” is a way of respecting yourself and creating time for the things that matter most to you.

59. Ask for help. Emotional strength is recognizing when you can’t handle things on your own and need a friend’s shoulder to lean on or a professional ear to listen when you feel overwhelmed.

60. Practice random acts of kindness. Make someone feel better about themselves by offering a kind compliment when they least expect it – notice their earrings, nail polish or smile – you’ll feel better about yourself and make someone else feel great.

61. Ground yourself in nature. The Earth carries energy that nourishes your energetic body. Being “grounded” will help you feel anchored. So get back in touch with nature – walk barefoot in the grass or on the beach – and let Mother Earth restore your energy.

62. Stop beating yourself up. Good self-esteem is something we need to practice just like anything else – so start giving yourself more credit and praise your accomplishments. A healthy self-image is an integral part of a healthy body.

63. Meditate. Mediation empties the mind, leaving you open to sensations and experiences you might otherwise ignore. It also helps raise your conscious awareness and attain greater focus and discipline. And it doesn’t have to be complicated – meditation is as simple as counting your breath.

64. Laugh at yourself. Stop taking life so seriously. Seeing the humor (or absurdity) in so many of life’s experiences can take the sting out of them and help us not take them quite so seriously.

65. Breathe deeply. The depth and rhythm of your breath directly affects your state of mind and the health of your body. According to yoga and Ayurveda, the breath carries our Prana, or energy, which gives life to the body. Without breath, there is no life and no energy.

66. Practice gratitude. Take time every day to make a mental list of all the gifts in your life that your thankful for. The simple practice of acknowledging and appreciating all the positive things in your life is a way to count your blessings, not your problems.

67. Accept failure. “Failure” is a harsh word – but it shouldn’t be. Crisis often creates clarity, and failure can force us to clear out the noise, build character, and become more persistent in the face of difficulties.

68. Give up control and surrender. Our need to be in control is often rooted in fear and an attachment to certain outcomes. Accept that it’s impossible to control everything – and you may find that things go more smoothly when you allow them to happen, instead of forcing them.

69. Volunteer. Feed your soul, do some good, meet new people and be a part of your community by offering your time to an organization that needs your help.

70. Stop being a perfectionist. Striving for perfection is a recipe for heartache. Let go of being perfect – and holding others to impossible standards – and you’ll be much more satisfied with life.

71. Don’t want what you don’t have. Someone else will always have more than you do – so don’t compete. Instead, appreciate what you have and remember so many people wish they had everything you have. You are so much more than the things you own.

72. Let go of the past. Don’t let what’s happened in the past dictate your future. Every moment presents an opportunity to create ourselves anew, to shrug off the baggage of the past, and take action to create new opportunities. Let go of the things you can’t change and embrace the future.

73. Be honest. Change won’t last if you are trying to be something or someone you’re not. Honesty is the path to authenticity and self-compassion – it bolsters your courage and frees you to be your best self.

74. Take up knitting. The rhythmic, repetitive motion of knitting has many of the same benefits to your mind and body as a meditation session, except you get a blanket at the end. Knitting also helps stimulate your brain to keep it healthy, in addition to improving your fine motor function and mood.

75. Buy yourself some flowers. Surround yourself with beauty.

76. Think big. If your dreams don’t scare you just a little, they’re not big enough – be ambitious and take definitive steps to achieve your goals by writing down concrete action steps. Thinking big allows you to stretch your imagination and expand your horizon.

77. Don’t take it personally. Don’t make the mistake that thinking everything is about you. It usually isn’t.

78. Break your own rules. Self-imposed limitations are shackles that hold you down, stunt your evolution and prevent you from achieving your potential. Consider if the “oughts” and “should” you’ve imposed on yourself are limiting your success.

79. Adopt a dog. Unlimited adorableness and unconditional love. And you’ll save a life. Enough said.

80. Don’t live someone else’s life. You are completely unique and awesome. Learn to build your own values, passions, opinions and personality. It’s your life. Own it.

81. Go to church. Or temple. Or mosque. Being a part of a religious or spiritual community can help you find deeper meaning in life. When you understand what your purpose is, you’ll begin to live with peace and passion, and It will become difficult for disappointment to damage your spirit.

82. Practice optimism. A positive mindset helps attract nice people and better things into your life. Being optimistic is a skill that can also help make you more resilient when facing stress, challenges and adversity.

83. Keep getting up. Psychological resilience – the ability to effectively cope with life’s challenges rather than being beaten down by them – is linked to increased well-being and longevity. A resilient spirit will help you view life as a series of challenges and bring stability to crisis.

84. Guard your energy. Don’t let unworthy people or situations drain you of your most precious resource. Surround yourself with positive, inspirational people who lift you up and energize you.

85. Celebrate progress with a reward. The journey to better health can be a long one, so make sure you celebrate your progress along the way. Knowing your actions lead to a reward can be very motivating. Just make sure it’s healthy – a massage or a new yoga pants, not a pint of ice cream.

86. Wear your favorite perfume. Even when no one else is around – do it just for yourself.

87. Honor your emotions. Sometimes it can be hard to accept or validate your own feelings, especially if you think they’re wrong or inappropriate. Honoring your emotions is about being true to yourself, honest with how you feel, and what you want. If you feel it, it’s your truth.

88. Trust in a higher power. None of us have all the answers – but something greater than us does. Believe that the universe is looking out for you and has your back.

89. Forgive someone who has hurt you. When you hold onto resentment toward someone, you’re bound to that person by an emotional link that’s stronger than steel. Forgiveness is the only way to dissolve that bond and move past hurtful feelings and experiences. Letting go of anger can recharge your life by removing the heavy burden of pain and hatred.

90. Be nicer. Life is hard enough without beating yourself – or others – up. And while you’re at it, stop being so judgmental. Excessive criticism kills enthusiasm. Lighten up.

91. Stop the self-sabotage. We all get in our own way occasionally, but some people do it repeatedly, self-destructing with procrastination, drinking or overeating. Stop being your own worst enemy. Silence your inner critical voice and get out of your own way.

92. Call an old friend. Go right now and call an old friend, former teacher or beloved great aunt you haven’t spoken to in years. Don’t let the dust settle on long-term relationships.

93. Make a new friend. As we get older, it seems harder to meet – and make – new friends. To expand your inner circle, try initiating activities with people you’d like to know better. Or become a “regular” at your neighborhood coffee shop, yoga studio or bar.

94. Stop faking your life. Empower yourself to take back authorship of your own life and be authentic. When what you think, feel and do are aligned, your life will reflect your true essence instead of an invented identity created to please others.

95. Be selfish. Caring for yourself is not self-indulgent – it’s self-love. Do one thing every day just because it makes you happy.

96. End unhealthy relationships. Healthy relationships are grounded in equality and respect, not control and power. You should feel safe, supported and happy in your relationships, not afraid. When a relationship – be it with a partner, family member, friend or coworker – causes more pain and strife than happiness, you need to set yourself free.

97. Take a long, relaxing bath. Add Epsom salts and a few drops of lavender essential oil to wash away the day’s frustrations.

98. Figure out your why. It’s such a great question, yet we hardly ever ask it. Why does it all matter? Once you figure our your why, you’ll have the fuel for your motivation.

99. Start a donation pile. Most of us have too much stuff.  Next time you get dressed, find one item of clothing you no longer wear and put it in a pile for donation. Repeat every few days. Then starting checking other spots, including kitchen cabinets, bookshelves and the kids’ playroom. Let others enjoy the things that no longer have meaning (or fit).

100. Be stronger than your excuses. Stop saying you just don’t have time to fill-in-the-blank. Recognize that we make time for the things that matter. And right now, someone who is busier than you is exercising or reading.

 

 

Living a healthy, happy life boils down to making wise decisions as often as possible. They all add up. Make the best of each and every day. Here’s to a year of better habits, positive thinking, clean eating, and most of all, loving yourself.

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