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7 Tips for Positive Change in the New Year

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One Day, One Easy Goal

It’s a blank slate, ya’ll. The perfect time to change some old habits and start some new ones. And fret not. Making positive change happen doesn’t have to mean a huge lifestyle overhaul; in fact, it’s the little things that ultimately make the big difference.

Here’s a handful of simple things you can start today:

1. Try Sunday Night Meal Prep

The week gets nuts. You get home late. And suddenly the best intentions of eating home-cooked meals are buried in a takeout bag. Spend an hour or two preparing a few key ingredients you can use in healthy meals throughout the week.

  • Hard boil eggs. They’re a great addition to salads or a quick and easy protein-packed snack.
  • Wash and cut up veggies. Now they're ready to be tossed with olive oil, seasoned and roasted. Or eat them raw with hummus or tzatziki dip.
  • Boil whole wheat pasta. Toss and reheat with a good jarred sauce for a terrific option even on the most hectic of days.
  • Bake sweet potatoes. They’re filling, loaded with vitamins and super easy to dress up.
  • Cook brown rice or quinoa. Brown rice takes nearly an hour to cook. Plan ahead, and you'll have the perfect base for a quick, wholesome stir-fry.

2. Start the Day with a Good Stretch

Stretching first thing in the morning boosts blood flow, improves posture and increases flexibility, reducing the risk of strains and injuries during normal daily activity. And it feels great! To start, focus on the muscle groups that do the most work: legs, back and shoulders. Listen to your body. You’ll be able to feel which areas crave a good stretch.

3. Work a Breath of Fresh Air into Your Workday

When you can, take that phone call outside. Yes, even on a cold winter day! Vitamin D from the sun provides immune system support. Plus, being in a screen-free, natural light environment can improve eye health, boost mental health and attention span, and keep your circadian rhythm on track—which helps you sleep better at night. That’s a ton of great benefits, right?

4. Pack a Healthy Lunch

If you're just going to gobble takeout at your desk anyway, why not bring something from home that will give your body the nutrients it craves? When you’re cleaning up from dinner the night before, pack a container to take to work! A few easy, wholesome options:

  • Hummus with veggies and pita
  • Salad greens topped with your dinner protein from the night before
  • Salad toppings to keep in the office fridge—remember to label them so no one steals!
  • Greek yogurt with fruit and granola
  • Be ready with a good mix of vitamins and protein, and you’ll curb those mid-afternoon trips to the vending machine.

5. Reconnect with an Old Friend

That person you've been meaning to call? Call them! Reconnecting with a pal reduces stress and lowers blood pressure. Plus, when you have a meaningful interaction with someone who really knows you, you can just be yourself and act completely, totally, utterly...goofy.

6. Take Negativity Out of Your Vocabulary

Instead of saying “I can’t”—which self-imposes restrictions on what we can accomplish—say “I choose not to.” And instead of “I should”—which expresses regret, even guilt—say “I could” or “I will.” Avoid the limitations to which our own words can doom us and stay positive.

7. Drink More Water

There are plenty of benefits to drinking water—but let’s focus on two. First, water has a major effect on energy and concentration. Feeling sluggish and dull? Have some water. Second, water can suppress appetite and help you lose weight. And guzzling water before meals can keep you from eating everything in sight. Water not your thing? Here are a few ways to make hydration taste better.

  • Add fresh fruit: strawberries, blueberries, lemon or orange slices.
  • Add fresh, leafy herbs: mint or basil.
  • Add slices of cucumber.
  • Make it bubbly.