If, after 2 years where health has been front and centre of most people’s minds, you have decided to improve your health in 2022, you may have already made an exhaustive list of things to do/change. I’m about to give you an exhaustive list, but after you have read it, I suggest you scratch everything bar one thing off the list. When you master one thing to improve your health, it often leads to unconsciously achieving other health behaviours, better health outcomes and causes much less mental stress and effort in the process.
There are three main areas to consider when it comes to improving your health.
Break these down and your list may include:
1. Eat more vegetables
2. Eat less ultra-processed food
3. Reduce your intake of added sugar and alcohol
4. Plan 150 to 300 minutes of “moderate-intensity” physical activity each week
5. Include a minimum of 2 x 20-minute muscle-strengthening activities
6. Achieve between 7,500 and 10,000 steps each day
7. Improve sleep
8. Meditate regularly
9. Do more things that bring you joy
Broken down further
EAT MORE VEGETABLES
10. Aim for 5 serves non-starchy veg a day
11. Start the day with a green smoothie
12. Include at least 3 serves of veg to the evening meal
EAT LESS HIGHLY PROCESSED PACKAGED FOOD
13. Plan the weekly meals and shop in advance for the ingredients
14. Use a cookbook with simple easy to prepare healthy meals
15. Avoid snack foods – biscuits, crackers, chips, etc
REDUCE YOUR INTAKE OF ADDED SUGAR
16. Learn to read food labels and recognise where sugar is hidden
17. Change the “habit” of when you eat food with added sugar (for example morning coffee and biscuit)
18. Go alcohol-free at least 4 nights a week
150 TO 300 MINS OF “MODERATE-INTENSITY” WEEKLY PHYSICAL ACTIVITY
19. 3 x 1-hour gym classes each week
20. Swim laps 3 x week
21. Schedule 4 brisk 45-minute walks with a friend
2 x 20-MINUTE WEEKLY MUSCLE-STRENGTHENING ACTIVITIES
22. Attend 2 Pilates classes (online or face to face)
23. Weight training
24. Resistance band classes
WALK BETWEEN 7500 AND 10000 STEPS EACH DAY
25. Buy a good pair of walking shoes and step counting device
26. Schedule times to walk each day
27. Find a friend to walk with
28. Go to bed early each night and wake early
29. Avoid excess alcohol, coffee, and dark chocolate
30. Regularly change your bed linen
31. Schedule the same time to meditate each day
32. Start with 5 minutes and build up the practice
33. Allocate a quiet clutter-free space to meditate
DO MORE THINGS THAT BRING YOU JOY
34. Make a list of the things that bring you joy
35. Allocate time in your schedule to enjoy them
36. Book them into your diary in the same way you would an appointment and don’t let yourself down!
Can you see how overwhelming it can be when you “decide to get healthy in 2022”?
When you focus on and master one behaviour you may be surprised at how many of the other things on the list sneak into your life. Stanford University Professor BJ Fogg, founder, and director of the Stanford Persuasive Technology Lab describes how tiny habits can create big changes in this TedX video.
So have a think about what one thing you can master this year that is likely to trigger a chain of behavioural changes which result in a whole new healthier you by the end of 2022.
Activity: Choose one behaviour from the list (or one of your own) and make it happen this year. Add your comments to the article and let us know what you plan to do.
The next Lighten Up Summer course launches on January 10th