Have you been telling yourself year after year that this is the year you’ll get healthy, only to see your resolutions fail by February?
If so, you’re not alone. But don’t despair: the reason for this often lies in setting unrealistic goals that are impossible to maintain. You don’t have to change your entire life to start to feel better about yourself and live more healthily. A few small tweaks is all it takes to set lifelong healthy habits in place.
Here’s how to start.
5 Easy ways to live healthier in 2017
1.Get checked out
First and foremost, make sure you’re physically healthy. Changing your diet and/or exercise routine before you know what your body needs is kind of pointless: a bit like buying ten pairs of shoes in different sizes and hoping one fits, instead of getting your foot measured first!
Visit your GP for a physical exam, and if you’re a woman, book your annual women’s wellness check-up. This examination will give you a complete overview of your current health status so you can figure out exactly what you need to do to improve or maintain it.
2.Get moving (the easy and free way)
Getting active is recommended for almost everyone, regardless of your health status. And you can begin with baby steps – literally!
Walking is one of the best types of exercise there is. It’s easy, it’s free, and you can do it anywhere. Just 30 minutes of walking each day has been proven to help improve the health of your heart, and your overall wellbeing.
Walk during your lunch break, or take a stroll after dinner. You’ll be amazed at how quickly half an hour passes when you have company.
3.Start changing your eating habits by stopping one unhealthy thing
Drink too many soft drinks? Cut them out. Eat too much white bread, pasta, pap or rice? Switch to whole-wheat options and load up on veggies instead of carbs. Changing just one thing can have huge benefits for your health – and your waistline. And if you have a sweet tooth? Put down the chocolate and reach for fruit instead.
4.Always practise safe sex
Having unprotected sex even once can result in an STI (sexually transmitted infection) that may or may not be curable. STIs can have a serious impact on your overall health, leading to all kinds of physical complications including chronic pain, infertility and some forms of cancer. Having safe sex is one of the most critical elements of overall good health.
5.Set realistic goals (and never reward yourself with food)
If you need to lose weight, chat to your doctor about a realistic timeline for reaching your goal. Work towards it slowly and steadily, and don’t beat yourself up for minor slip-ups. As long as you’re improving overall, even if the improvement is slow, you’re on the right track.
If you’ve never exercised, don’t set yourself the goal of completing a half-marathon by mid-year. If you need to lose 20kg, give yourself at least a year. Taking the pressure off enables you to view your goal from a distance and work towards it in steady increments, which is key to achieving your goal and maintaining it for good.
Tick one health goal off your list right now
Book a well woman appointment at Marie Stopes and get a complete overview of your current health. Plus, you can get contraceptive advice, STI screening and treatment, and answers to any questions you may have. Plus, we can help you set new, healthy habits in place to help you reach your 2017 goals.