Mind & Spirit

26 easy ways to get a fresh start on your health

By: Yuki Hayashi

Author: Canadian Living

Mind & Spirit

26 easy ways to get a fresh start on your health

By: Yuki Hayashi
Do you have a great health tip? Share it with other readers in the comments section below.

It's never too late to improve your health - and your life! Here are 26 ways to get a fresh start on your health.

1. Try a group fitness class.
Get motivated and try something new!

2. Book a personal training session. Even if you can't afford weekly or biweekly sessions, chances are you can afford $40 just once. A certified personal trainer can assess your fitness level and help you set realistic goals. If you're a newbie, your trainer can walk you through the gym showing you how everything works and flagging the equipment best suited to your needs – providing a huge confidence boost. For many women, that's the key to ensuring return workouts.

3. Book more personal training sessions! If you can afford it and you like the trainer you had the initial session with, sign up for more. It doesn't have to be weekly or even biweekly. Monthly or bimonthly sessions are a good opportunity to set new goals, learn new exercises and get professional advice regarding any fitness or weight-loss plateaus you hit. Plus, you'll feel like your accountable to someone, giving you incentive to hit the gym regularly.

4. Get one great workout outfit. A comfortable and flattering ensemble will get you excited about hitting the gym. Just buy one: Reward yourself with additional pieces as you hit ongoing fitness targets.

5. Create inspiring playlists. The right tunes may motivate you to go for a long stroll during your lunch break, or even jump off the bus and walk the last mile home after work.

6. Get seven to nine hours of sleep every night. You'll wake up refreshed, not groggy. Are you getting enough sleep? Find out here.

7. Eat colourfully. Make sure your meals are bright and colourful. Eating fresh fruits and vegetables with a wide range of colours ensures you get a full complement of vitamins.

8. Eat less meat. Your waistline, heart and wallet will thank you. Try for one or two vegetarian dinners per week.

9. Learn portion sizes. North American portion sizes are crazy-big! Research the portion sizes recommended by nutritionists so you get into the habit of eating the right amounts of food.

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10. Buy organic. Organic produce, grain products, dairy and meat cost a bit more than conventional groceries, but reduce your exposure to pesticide and antibiotic residues and hormones. And, if you splurge, you may be more motivated to actually eat your fresh goods, instead of letting them go bad in the fridge while you order in pizza!

11. Cut back on over-scheduling. If hustling from one sports class to another (then to tutoring, then to music class) has your family eating meals in the car or missing out on free time, then it's time to cut back. Stress and over-reliance on convenience foods aren’t healthy lifestyle habits, so ease up!

12. Switch your cleaning products to phosphate-free, eco-friendly ones. Safer cleaning agents are better for the environment – and your health. Your skin, lungs and eyes will thank you when you get bleach- and fume- laden products out of your home.

13. Sign up for a special-interest class. Learning new skills keeps your mind agile, especially as you get older. Choose something that can help advance your career, or something for pure enjoyment – both promote mental health.

14. Kick your worst hygiene habit to the curb. Whether it's biting your nails (think of the germs on your fingers!) or not flossing daily, nix that habit for the sake of your health.

15. See your family doctor or gynecologist for a full gynecological exam, including PAP smear, HPV test and breast exam. Get in the habit of booking annual pelvic exams until your health provider indicates you need them less often.

16. Take the time to brush up on safe sex basics if you're back on the dating scene post-divorce or after a long relationship.

17. Don't use your mate's bad health habits to excuse your own. There's no reason why you have to be Mrs. Couch Potato to his Mr.! Start swimming laps at the local YMCA (many locations offer low-cost, onsite child-minding), or take a flamenco class – the teacher will pair singles up with partners.

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18. Ditto for smoking. You don't have to quit smoking at the same time (though it helps). If he's not ready, go it alone. He may even get inspired to join you!

19. Get a booster shot. If it's been over 10 years from your last one, you won't be protected from diphtheria, pertussis and potentially fatal tetanus, which you can pick up from animal or insect bites, burns, splinters and rusty nails. It's especially essential for travellers.

20. Make love. It reduces stress, burns calories and can boost your immune system – not to mention your emotional and physical connection to your spouse. Need tips for re-igniting the passion? You can find 10 great ones here.

21. When you leave for the day, really check out. Bringing workplace dramas home can raise your stress level. If you have to, use a ritual to close your workday: De-compress at the gym, blast a certain blowing-off-steam playlist – or if you work in a noisy workplace, enjoy pure silence or a nature soundtrack – during your commute home.

22. Start the workweek off by putting a bowl of pre-washed apples and pears on your desk. Their proximity will encourage you to eat them (not head for the office vending machine) whenever you feel peckish.

23. Make it your goal to compete a charitable run, walk or bike ride. "Cause fitness" is a huge fitness trend. Having a goal will motivate you to train, while raising money for charity will give you a huge emotional lift.

24. Be less of a control freak. Your kids don't clean their rooms to your standards. Your husband doesn't load the dishwasher properly. So be it. Your family life and marriage will improve if you become more selective about when to micro-manage, er, "advise."

25. Buy a stainless-steel water bottle. You'll save money and stay hydrated without resorting to pop, calorific sports beverages or water packaged in disposable water bottles – which recent studies have shown can leach endocrine-disrupting chemicals.

26. Cut a toxic friend or relative loose. Life's too short to allow frenemies or emotionally abusive relatives get your stomach in a knot. Cherish time spent with people who bring out the best in you. Your emotional health will improve - and so will your weekends.

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Mind & Spirit

26 easy ways to get a fresh start on your health