Here are 32 ways to make healthy strides in 2016

You can run down the health resolution to-do list quite easily and quickly:

Lose weight.

Stop smoking.

Join a gym.

If you take care of those, you may be asking: What are we here for on this first Tuesday of the new year, a day when anticipatory fitness still hangs giddily in the air?

To offer encouragement and to make this whole health thing — no kidding — easy. Or at least easier than you might think. You’ll feel better physically, mentally and emotionally. And you might even be thin(ner) and belong to a gym at year’s end.

We consulted a few folks in the fitness, health and wellness world to come up with these 16 — one for every year of this millennium. And then we offer 16 of our own.

1. Start your day with positive talk. 

“As soon as I open my eyes, I try to convince myself that this is a day I was meant to live, and not only live but with purpose. I know for a fact my purpose does not include treating my body like a trash can, so I try to act accordingly.”

2. Meditate. 

Even a few minutes most mornings will start your day off focused and calm. “Reflect on the people who are special to you, your loved ones, family and friends. Think positive thoughts. Also if you have a special poem or book, read and reflect on those.”

3. Eat an apple every day. 

Apples have been shown to stabilize blood sugar, boost gum health and help prevent colon cancer, according to Reader’s Digest ( Plus they have fiber and taste good.

4. Grocery shop after you eat. 

That way, your hunger won’t lure you into buying foods you know in your heart of hearts you really don’t want in your belly or in your pantry.

5. Eat only until you start to feel full. 

Then what? Stop.

6. Go outside, even for just a few minutes.

Ah, breathe it in, this beautiful world.

7. Chew each bite 15 times. 

Registered dietitian Jennifer Neily of Dallas recommends 20 times. So much more civilized than inhaling your meals.

8. Go meatless. 

Just one meal a week. You can do it. Save a cow; save your heart. Find recipes at and (or subscribe our Live Fit Newsletter.)

9. Time your meal. 

Make it last at least 20 minutes, Neily says. Sit at the table, not in front of the TV. Be aware of every bite, putting your fork down after each one.

10. Move more. 

You don’t have to sign up for a marathon; just swap out some immobile time (watching TV or waiting for the microwave timer to go off) for mobility. Use canned goods for biceps curls; jog in place.

“It’s not all about walking and running, but if you are not huffing and puffing a little bit every day, your heart isn’t getting enough of a workout.”

11. Drink more water. 

It’ll fill you up, aid digestion, make your skin better. If you keep forgetting to gulp it down, train yourself to drink a glass of water after you use the restroom.

12. Ask for a to-go box. 

Do this before you eat. Otherwise, there may not be anything to put inside.

13. Use smaller plates. 

The size of an average dinner plate is 2 inches larger than it used to be. So what do we tend to do with that space? Fill it up, of course. Thus, the smaller-plate tip.

14. Turn your meal into a Crayola box. 

Not literally. But think blue! Orange! Yellow! Green! Even adding one or two colorful foods a day can up your vitamin and fiber intake.

15. Laugh. 

Good for your abs, good for your heart. And even it wasn’t, it sure feels good.

16. Say, “I love you.” 

“This might sound cheesy, but every day I try to genuinely verbalize to at least one person that I love them. Whether it be God, my parents, godmother, students or myself, genuinely vocalizing my love for someone always humbles me and centers me on what’s important in life.”

And 16 of my own:

1. Wash your hands. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention likens handwashing to “a do-it-yourself vaccine” because this simple act can help keep germ-spread at bay. Not to totally gross you out, but most reasons you read about the importance of handwashing come down to two words: fecal matter. Namely, that of whoever last touched the menu, faucet, light switch, doorknob, ATM keypad, dollar bill or — well, you get the picture. Keep hand sanitizer handy.

2. Stand on one foot. 

while drying your hair or brushing your teeth. This helps your balance as well as engages your core.

3. Make use of chair time. 

When you have to be seated, every so often lift both feet off the ground and hold for a count of 10. Repeat. Good for your abs, your legs and for staying awake.

4. Keep a ball at your desk. 

Every 30 minutes or hour, put it between your ankles and straighten your legs. Hold, then slowly lower. Repeat a time or two.

5. Eat what you want, 

but not as much of it.

6. Stand up

(at church, the movies, etc.) without using your arms for support.

7. Take the stairs up an extra flight, then come back down.

This can not only accrue steps toward the 10,000-step goal many experts recommend to promote heart health, but also get your heart beating faster as you change elevations. Get a pedometer, by the way, so you don’t lose count. Wondering where the magic number 10,000 came from? says the Japanese marketed a pedometer in the 1960s called manpo-kei. Translation: “10,000 steps meter.”

8. Brush your hair with the opposite arm.

It’s one of those little ways to keep your brain challenged, like driving a different way to work.

9. When waiting in line, go up and down on tiptoes.

10. Floss. Good for your teeth,

plus it can also help prevent heart disease.

11. Read fiction. 

It helps improve brain connectivity and function, reports Psychology Today.

12. Donate blood.

Here’s why: One pint can help save up to three lives. Every 7 seconds, someone needs blood. Every year, 4.5 million American lives are saved by blood transfusions. Find more at (Hey, if a former blood phobe can do it, so can you.)

13. Start your day with jumping jacks. 

Do them during commercials, too. Gets your blood moving, and they’ll show up as steps on that pedometer.

14. Make use of time while your coffee reheats. 

Do squats in those 30 seconds, or push-ups very fast or very slowly off the countertops.

15. Sign up for something. 

German class, yoga, whatever. You’ll learn something new and meet new people. Everyone can use another friend, plus connecting is good for the heart.

16. Be appreciative. 

Saying “thank you” is a good start. Or “This coffee tastes wonderful!” — if indeed it does. Does that blue sweater show off a pal’s eyes? Is a neighbor’s dog well behaved? Do tell. It’ll make them feel better (and, psst, you, too).

Source: By LESLIE BARKER (Dallas Morning News)

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