Happy New Year! This year, what do you say we all skip the New Year’s resolution? About half of Americans make them, and most start out strong but come February or March, many have already thrown in the towel.
Overall, it’s estimated that 92 percent of Americans fail to achieve the goals they commit to on New Year’s Day.1 And so, I’m proposing this instead: in place of a New Year’s resolution, make a commitment to simply live better this year.
This is an ongoing process, a lifestyle change, not an impulsive resolution that you blurted out at midnight and have all but forgotten by morning. It’s also not something you can achieve overnight. Rather, this is a plan you can live by.
10 Steps to Changing Your Life for the Better in 2016
It’s the start of a new year — what better time to start fresh with some positive changes? The 10 that follow are the crème de la crème of lifestyle tricks you can use to live better and be happier — and isn’t that really what virtually all of us are after?
Below follows a brief introduction to the 10 points I suggest you commit to this year. In the coming months, stay tuned for an updated comprehensive nutrition plan, which is scheduled for release in 2016.
It will include these points in detail along with a plethora of additional recommendations, tips, and strategies to help you live the best life possible.
And, starting next week, look for forthcoming articles in the newsletter, which will cover each of these topics in depth. Are you ready to start fresh in 2016? Then keep on reading.
1. Give Up Soda
Obesity, diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, liver damage, osteoporosis, and acid reflux are just some of the health conditions linked to soda consumption. No wonder nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of Americans say they actively try to avoid soda in their diet.2
If you’re not yet among them, commit to swapping your soda for healthier beverages like water, sparkling water, and, occasionally, tea and/or organic black coffee.
When you consume soda your body increases dopamine production, which stimulates the pleasure centers of your brain — a physically identical response to that of heroin, by the way.
This explains why so many people find it difficult to give up their daily soda “fix.” But, it can be done and you’ll feel better for it.
2. Eat Two Meals a Day, Within an Eight-Hour Window
Your body probably only needs two meals a day, and eating this way allows you to restrict your eating to a window of six to eight consecutive hours each day, while avoiding food for at least three hours before bedtime.
As long as you restrict your eating to a six- to eight-hour window, and avoid eating for at least three hours before bed, you can choose between having breakfast and lunch, or lunch and dinner, but avoid having both breakfast and dinner.
Which two meals you prefer are up to you; let your body, and your lifestyle, be your guide.
This type of intermittent fasting has numerous benefits for your health, including weight loss, disease prevention, resolving insulin resistance, optimizing your mitochondrial function, and preventing cellular damage from occurring.
3. Get Eight Hours of Sleep Each Night
I used to think I was immune to needing adequate sleep. I would routinely get less than six hours a night and thought I could function this way. But, I’ve since realized that most adults really need about eight hours of sleep every night.
What makes sleep deprivation so detrimental is that it doesn’t just impact one aspect of your health; it impacts many.
Sleeping less than six hours per night more than triples your risk of high blood pressure, and women who get less than four hours of shut-eye per night double their chances of dying from heart disease.4
Sleep is also intricately tied to important hormone levels, including melatonin, production of which is disturbed by lack of sleep.
This is extremely problematic, as melatonin inhibits the proliferation of a wide range of cancer cell types, as well as triggers cancer cell apoptosis (self-destruction). Lack of sleep also decreases levels of your fat-regulating hormone leptin, while increasing the hunger hormone ghrelin.
The resulting increase in hunger and appetite can easily lead to overeating and weight gain. Not to mention, poor or insufficient sleep is actually the strongest predictor for pain in adults over 50.5
Small adjustments to your daily routine and sleeping area can go a long way to ensure uninterrupted, restful sleep and, thereby, better health.
If you’re not sure how much sleep you’re getting, a fitness tracker can be beneficial for helping you keep track of the actual time you’re asleep (as opposed to the time spent in bed).If you need more sleep, I suggest you read through my full set of 33 healthy sleep guidelines for details on proper sleep hygiene.