Make a new beginning this New Year

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Starting a new routine is never easy. Here are some concrete steps that can help you make a healthy shift this coming year. Following a healthy routine is easier said than done. We have often heard that you need to go to bed early, or limit your alcohol intake. And though at the start of every year, we resolve to start a new healthy routine, a handful of us manage to achieve it. A healthy routine is nothing but a way of life, which includes almost everything that is healthy. Be it your food, activity, sleep, hygiene, personal relations and even your thoughts. Self-control and will power are the most important factors when it comes to switching to a healthy routine and a healthy life. One has to tell the mind to control all the urges and focus on all things that benefit the body. The journey to switch to a healthy routine, however, is not without pitfalls. Music composer and singer, Runki Goswami, avers, “Bring healthy changes to your overall lifestyle such as sitting on the floor cross-legged and eating, which is a big core muscle tightener or using jaggery instead of sugar in your tea.” It is the small steps that can help make the big change. So this year, whether you want to start exercising or limit your gadget use, here are some practical tips that can help you make that healthy shift.

How to: Wake up early

Waking up early gives you a lot more time to organise your day and it also helps you eat on time and go to bed early.

  • A good way to go to bed early and wake up early is to have a day packed with activity. When you wake up, workout and then spend all day at work, you are sure to be tired enough to go to bed early and then wake up early.
  • Avoid heavy meals at night. Kanchi Shah, founder of dance studio Two Right Feet, says, “Eating heavy meals at night is not only unhealthy for digestion but it will prevent you from sleeping well.”
  • Pre plan your activities for the next day. If you have an exciting activity lined up for the morning you will be motivated to wake up.
  • Keep your mobile phone away. It often leads to sleeping late and waking up late.
  • Try to keep an alarm about 10 minutes earlier so you can wake up on time. Try and not snooze the alarm.

How to: Avoid junk food

It is not easy to avoid junk when you are hungry especially when everyone around is bingeing but you can always choose a healthier alternative.

  • Baked over fried is a mantra you should swear by.
  • Eating small meals at regular intervals can prevent bingeing on junk. Faraz Naqvi, CEO and founder, HEPTA, a Mumbai-based design agency, says, “I eat small meals at frequent intervals to keep myself from eating junk food. I follow a diet that makes me feel full and satisfied for longer durations.”
  • Keep with you some healthy food options like nuts, yoghurt and fruits that you like, so you can dig into these when hunger strikes. Dr Ramananda Srikantiah Nadig, head of the Clinical Advisory Board, healthi, says, “Drink a glass of water before every meal. This habit will ensure that you feel fuller and help in avoiding overeating and hunger pangs. Yoghurt is a quick stomach filler and you can mix it up with nuts, fruits or berries to enhance both nutrients and taste.” Fruits are not only healthy but also provide the much-needed fibre which keeps you feeling fuller for a longer time. So, it is a great choice instead of biscuits and chips.
  • Go for healthy snacks like ragi chips, yoghurt, millet based cookies, healthy non sweetened protein bars and the like.
  • Stock your home with healthy alternatives so you have no access to junk food.
  • Instant food like packaged noodles and pasta are loaded with preservatives, do not buy them in the first place.
  • If you have to eat out with colleagues in the evening, make sure to choose wisely – never give in to the temptation of fried food.

How to: Limit alcohol

The best thing is to avoid alcohol all together but if you must drink here are some tips.

  • When you are in a social gathering it is best to hold on to one drink for long so make sure you are not quick while drinking.
  • Always dilute drinks with water and say no to shots as they are full of calories.
  • Choose red wine as it is comparatively better and is referred to as ‘French Paradox’ due to the presence of antioxidants, both flavonoid and non-flavonoid, along with resveratrol, and 0 per cent fat and cholesterol and lower calories.
  • Nutritionist and Consultant Jaydeep Bhuta advices, “The best possible choice is to have low sugar and low starch alcohols like unsweetened and unflavored vodka and whisky instead of having beer, sugar-based drinks and mixers.”

How to: Make time to exercise

Exercising is the best way to have a healthy life but is a resolution that is commonly broken.  So here are some pointers that can help you.

  • Motivate yourself – unless you want to make the choice to stay healthy and exercise, you will never be able to do it.
  • Try to stick to a time for workout but if that’s not possible any time that you find in the day can be used to workout.
  • Try taking the stairs at work every time and at home too.
  • Make small changes in your daily routine that can help make exercise a part of it. So, instead of taking a cab right outside your door, walk for 10 minutes and then choose another mode of transport.
  • Find that 10 or 15 minute window in the day. Sandesh Dhanraj, CEO and founder of Noah Interiors says, “Make small changes in your daily activities to create a small time window for you to exercise. So, if you can finish some work faster and have 15 minutes to spare, you can exercise at that time. Also, while working take small breaks and try to move around instead of being fixed to a chair.”

How to: Eat on time

Never skip a meal no matter what as you must respect your body over everything else.

  • Pack at least three meals for your day. Carrying healthy, packed food will ensure you do not need to move away from your desk and can eat on time even when work is heavy. Tarun Walecha, Director RLaPL and Founder and Principal Architect at Studio Garret says, “It is never too difficult to carry a healthy snack or access one in erratic schedules.”
  • Set alarms for your meal times. Designer Anu PD says, “Remember that a well-fed body works best and at an optimum level. I always set alarms for myself to ensure I am reminded of my meal-timings, even in the craziest of times at work and I encourage even my team to do the same.”
  • Avoid eating 3 hours before sleeping and try to eat within an hour of waking up.
  • Never skip your breakfast.

How to: Limit screen time

Screen time whether watching television, working on your laptop or using your mobile, can make it difficult to follow a set pattern.

  • Define limited viewing times and monitor it for yourself. So you can watch television for 30 minutes and stop.
  • Cut your cable connection and remove your television set completely so you don’t have any diversion.
  • Limit social media updates. Set aside a 10 to 15 minute slot per day to update your social media handles.
  • Do not use your phone when you eat. This will help you focus on your food and also work on building better relations with family and colleagues.

Follow the steps and you are sure to find out that making a healthy shift is not only possible but also easily attainable with a bit of discipline and motivation!

This story appeared in the Feb 2018 issue of Smartlife here:

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