Health resolutions for the new decade
Take small steps to a healthier life with these lifestyle changes
Use the excuse of a new decade to live your life better. Here are some meaningful health resolutions you should seriously consider making in 2020.
Own what you eat
If you are guzzling bubble tea every day, you would most likely look like a bubble tea boba at some point - soft and round.
Re-examine your diet and take small steps to make it healthier.
Start with a pantry raid and throw out anything - sauces, sweets, salad dressings, flavoured yoghurts - with added sugar.
Replace them with healthier options that offer more than just a sugar high.
Prioritise mental health
When you choose flight over fight, negative emotions often get buried, and they resurface when we next feel stressed or overwhelmed.
If you are striving to keep your mental health in order, start by accepting and processing your feelings without judgment.
Employ the use of mindfulness apps such as Headspace or practise daily meditation and reflection using Calm.
If you need extra help, seek out a therapist or counsellor for objective advice.
If you have tried all these and are still battling negative emotions, consider that you might be experiencing a bout of depression.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders defines a major depressive episode as at least two weeks of a depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure in almost all activities, as well as at least five other symptoms (sleep issues, changes in appetite and weight, difficulty concentrating, feeling fatigued, psychomotor agitation or retardation and recurring thoughts of death and suicide).
Reach out to HealthLine (1800-223-1313) or to helplines such as Aware (1800-775-5555), Care Corner Counselling Centre (1800-353-5800) and Samaritans of Singapore (1800-221-4444).
Love your gut
Gut health is important so do not overlook it.
Drink enough water, get enough fibre and if you are not already eating fermented foods (such as sauerkraut, miso and kimchi), start.
Consider adding a probiotic and maybe even a prebiotic to your daily supplements but if it all sounds too complicated, make a post-dinner apple cider vinegar drink.
Buy better sleep
Good sleep is the gateway to all wonderful things in life - more energy, happiness, confidence and positivity - so it is worth spoiling yourself with a new sleep accessory.
Consider aromatherapy diffusers that double up as a way to scent your space, a white noise machine, new sheets or just download sleep or snoring apps that monitor your sleep health.
Invest in health
Just as you set aside a monthly sum for your dream home/vacation/bag, do the same with your health.
Each month, spend on something that goes towards your health: Pilates classes to build a strong core, physiotherapy or sports massage sessions to relieve those aches, or a SodaStream so you drink less diet sodas.
Consider even buying some home gym equipment to ensure a daily workout.
Try a new sport
Use your body or lose it. As you age, it gets harder to master new motor skills and build muscle.
This year, commit to a new or preloved sport, or a low-impact exercise such as yoga, reformer pilates, taiji or swimming.
Commit to it for at least three months and schedule weekly (or more) sessions so that you can really decide if it is for you at the end of 90 days.
Eat in more
It may be cheaper and quicker to dine out but what you do not pay for financially, you will pay for nutritionally.
Look at perfecting a number of easy, go-to nutritious meals - protein-rich salads, baked salmon with grilled veggies, omelettes with veggies and healthy fats.
De-dust your house
It is not just the haze that can trigger health issues, the dust in your indoor environment affects your health in a vital way.
Do not take it upon yourself to deep-clean your home, hire someone to get it sorted for you.
And while you are at it, reduce dust by having air-purifying plants around, using an air purifier, changing or cleaning the air filters in heating and air-conditioning units every month, and just keeping your home space clutter-free.
Book doctors' visits
This year, set a health plan in action.
Start by scheduling your yearly health screening, then move on to other must-dos such as pap smears, mammograms and diabetes risk assessment.
No one likes bad news but early detection will make a world of difference.
Do a daily digital detox
There is enough research out there warning us of the dangers of blue light - it increases symptoms of migraine, damages the retina, causes skin damage and inflammation - so do yourself a favour and turn your mobile phone to airplane mode two hours before turning in, and read a book or journal instead.
Over time, you will create a better sleep habit and less reliance on social media for those quick dopamine hits.
Know your supplements
Often, the food we eat is not as nutritious as we would like them to be, hence the need to supplements.
Do some research and look into getting a good multivitamin.
Introduce magnesium into your diet for better sleep and to reduce inflammation, or consume an activated form of folic acid even if you are not planning on starting a family as it promotes the formation of healthy blood cells.
Also consider adding a vitamin D supplement to maintain healthy bones.
Build stronger bones
Women are prone to osteoporosis so it is vital to get enough calcium through food.
Focus on building muscles, be it through a high-intensity interval training workout or using free weights.
Familiarise yourself with lifting techniques by watching how-to videos by qualified fitness instructors, and if your budget allows, engage a personal trainer or join a gym class that involves weights and strength training.
Drink less alcohol
Dehydration, added sugar, sleep disruption - the ill effects of alcohol are well known.
If cutting out alcohol is not an option, it is worth considering healthier, low alcohol-by-volume or boozeless options.
Look for bars that sell booze-free Seedlip cocktails, ask bartenders for a creative mocktail or just enjoy drinking some sparkling water with a squeeze of fresh citrus juice.
This article was first published in Shape (www.shape.com.sg).