12 Months to a Healthier Life

If overhauling your lifestyle all at once feels intimidating, slow down and make one small change at a time by following this 12-month guide. Each month focuses on a simple tip that will gradually help you live a healthier life.

These changes are meant to be cumulative, so as you progress through the year, hold onto those from the previous month and add the new month’s habit to your routine.

Didn’t start in January? No problem. Jump in at any time!

Any healthy habit you pick up is a good healthy habit. By adding one healthy habit to your routine each month, you’ll be living a healthier life by the end of the year without even realizing it.

12 Healthy Habits to Start This Year

January
Focus on the positive
Cut yourself some slack! Focusing on what you don’t like about your body can make you more susceptible to illness, and nobody has time to get sick, especially at the beginning of a new year.

Find the things you love about your body — these can be appearance or performance-based — and put more emphasis on those. By appreciating your unique traits and not comparing your body to others, you can improve your body image and decrease feelings of body shame. If you need some help looking on the bright side of life, try doing some sun salutations. Yoga can improve your mood and help relieve stress.

February
Keep a food diary
Tracking your meals can make you more conscientious about what you’re eating, how much you’re eating, and where you can make smarter choices. Studies have found that those who are more diligent about recording what they eat and when they eat it are more successful at losing weight than those who don’t.

Tools like MyFitnessPal are great for keeping track of the foods you eat and for getting more familiar with how many calories they actually contain.

March
Cut out added sugar Fruit is good. Candy… not so much. And some foods that seem healthy have a surprising amount of added sugar, such as flavored water, cereal, and ketchup. High consumption of sugar is linked to weight gain, so when you crave something sweet, reach for fruit instead.

April
Make it a meal prep month
It’s easier to eat clean when healthy meals are already in your fridge. Set aside a few hours each weekend to plan and prep your food for the coming week. Prepping healthy meals can keep your diet on track, and it’s not as hard to do as you might think.

May
Start a new workout program
Avoid a weight-loss or fitness plateau by changing up your fitness routine. Here are some tips to help you get started with a new program.

June
Drink water every morning
Drinking a glass of water before you start your day helps prevent morning dehydration. Hydration is also vital for exercise, so keep the water flowing to maximize your performance. Here are 25 more tips to help you drink enough water every day. And if you’re not a huge fan of plain old H2O, check out these 10 ways to add flavor to water.

July
Aim for 10,000 steps per day
Walking burns calories and can help combat the risks that come with a sedentary lifestyle, like obesity and cardiovascular disease. And for an added bonus, going for just a 15-minute stroll can help you get out of a mental rut and increase your creativity by nearly 60 percent. But you don’t have to just walk in circles to get your steps in. Check out our 14 easy ways to help you take more steps. And if you’re wondering how all these steps add up, learn how to calculate how many steps you walk in a mile.

August
Go junk food free
Highly-processed food loaded with sugar, salt, chemicals, and trans fats leads to health issues ranging from obesity to cardiovascular problems. Avoiding junk food is also an easy way to eliminate empty calories (calories that come from food that don’t contain nutrients) from your diet. If you have no idea where to start this month, follow these tips to give up junk food.

September
Incorporate meditation into your daily routine
Too much stress can hinder muscle recovery, making leg day way more painful than it already is. Meditation can do wonders to help reduce stress levels, which can in turn help you recover from injuries faster, since stress impacts the healing process. Get this month started by trying three meditation techniques, or give the ultra-relaxing Zen meditation a try.

October
Celebrate Meatless Monday
October is National Vegetarian Month. Going meat-free for a month can introduce you to new healthy foods, reduce your carbon footprint, and help lower your BMI. Check out our favorite vegetarian recipes and vegan recipes for some inspiration.

November
Train for a Turkey Trot
Give yourself an attainable goal by signing up for a walk or run at the end of the month. Not a runner? Don’t underestimate the benefits of walking! A rigorous walking routine can help you with your weight loss goals, and it’s definitely better than just sitting on the couch. Check out some tips to make walking workouts more effective.

December
Get more sleep
Make sure you’re getting enough shut-eye during the busy holiday season. Poor sleep can lead to weight gain, but getting seven hours or more of good sleep a night can speed up weight loss. If you’re struggling to get a good night’s rest, try these natural remedies to help you sleep. (Spoiler: exercise can help you sleep better!)

 

Keep your year moving in an even healthier direction by making 15 more small changes that can lead to big results when it comes to losing weight and reaching your goals.