Want to get healthy in 2016? Forget trying to lose weight.
Many us vow to shed pounds as we enter the new year, only to give up after a few short weeks (or wind up gaining more). But the biggest perk of weight loss isn't even a smaller pants size, it's the improved health that comes with it. A healthy lifestyle isn't how much extra weight you lose, but what you gain in the process.
If you're looking to adopt better habits for you overall health, take a look at some of the alternative resolutions below. Being healthy is more than just a number on the scale.
1. Meditate more often.
2. Try therapy.
Just a friendly reminder that there's nothing wrong with seeking help. Even if you aren't experiencing mental health issues, there's no harm in getting advice on how to handle life's challenges. Even public figures tout the perks of going to therapy.
"My brain and my heart are really important to me,""Scandal" star Kerry Washington told Glamour last year. "I don't know why I wouldn't seek help to have those things be as healthy as my teeth. I go to the dentist. So why wouldn't I go to a shrink?"
3. Go to the doctor.
While some research is finding that annual physicals aren't totally necessary, it's still important to get a checkup every-so-often to make sure you're in tip-top shape. Ask your physician to do a physical and mental health evaluation, make sure you're up-to-date with all your vaccinations and ask them to do a blood test.
4. Eat more vitamin-rich foods.
Many people have a vitamin deficiency -- some of which can be rectified just by tweaking your diet. Foods like spinach are high in iron and drinks like milk provide your body with a healthy dose of vitamin D. Ask your doctor if there are any vitamin discrepancies you should be monitoring.
5. Say one nice thing to yourself every morning.
You are your own worst critic. Studies show that self-acceptance is paramount to a happier life, but it's the habit many people practice least. As you get ready in the mirror or go about your daily commute, think of one positive trait about yourself every day. You deserve to feel loved.
6. Drink more water.
Chuck the diet soda and sugary juices and switch to water instead. You'll not only feel more hydrated, but your physical appearance will show it, too. Getting the right amount of water is a vital part in staying healthy.
7. Ditch your device before bed.
Sorry, Instagram scrollers. Research shows the blue light emitted from screens can wreak havoc on your sleep quality. Try to unplug before crawling into bed each night.
8. Start journaling.
Writing down your thoughts has a multitude of mind perks, from goal setting to a better memory. The great news? It doesn't have to be time consuming. Try jotting down just three things you're grateful for each day. Research suggests gratitude can improve your physical and mental well-being.
9. Take more walks.
Here's a truth bomb: Walking can be a hardcore exercise. It improves cardiovascular strength, lowers blood sugar levels, and you're more likely to stick with it than other exercises. Not only that, research shows walks in nature may help with symptoms of depression. Get to steppin'.
10. Pack your lunch.
11. Floss more often.
You hear it from your dentist constantly, but only because it really is a necessity. Healthy gums can protect you against gingivitis and even heart disease. Sounds like a pretty good reason to get out that floss.
12. Make a happiness appointment.
Research shows spending money on experiences, not things, is key to greater happiness. Make an "appointment" with yourself each week or month to do something you've always wanted to try. It could be a new exercise class, a weekend road trip or even just window shopping. The point is to schedule some "me time" and do something small to make yourself more joyous.
13. Call your mom more frequently.
Studies show that calling your mom during a time of turmoil can reduce stress. Pick up the phone every so often and call a friend or a family member who means a lot to you. They'll be happy you're thinking of them and you'll be happy you chatted with them.
14. Volunteer more often.
Kindness does the body (and mind) good. Research shows volunteering has significant benefits, from improved heart health to greater happiness. Even if you only do it once a month, you're making a difference in the community -- and yourself.
15. Read more books.
Get lost in a good story. Reading has a host of health perks. You'll have a sharper mind, feel less stressed and get better sleep. Talk about a fun way to improve your well-being.
16. Get to know yourself.
Everyone operates differently when it comes to their health. You may hate workout classes but love running. You may prefer life coaching to therapy. Get familiar with your needs, what you like and what you don't like.
The best gift you can give yourself is the knowledge of who you are and what makes you healthy and happy. Everything else will fall into place -- including any resolutions to better your life.
Clarification: Language was updated to reflect which screening tests are typically done during a general check-up.
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