Health

21 days to a new you

Do just one little thing each day, and we guarantee you’ll feel healthier, happier and ready for anything. Time to make every day count — and then some!

health, wellness, new you

Jussi Kaartinen/IStockphoto

Day 1: Spice up the morning
Drink hot water with freshly squeezed lemon juice (hello, vitamin C!)and a dash of cayenne first thing. This body-alkalizing trick balances pH levels to kick-start the day.

Day 2: Cleanse your kitchen
Purge anything in your pantry that’s expired or really old (yes, that means rarely used spices). Then replenish dry goods with the healthiest options: brown or wild rice, quinoa, whole-grain or spelt pasta and dried beans. Do the same thing with your freezer.

Day 3: Think about food
No problemo, right? But we mean really think about it. Take one meal and eat with awareness: Shut down your computer, switch off the TV and savour every bite. Bonus: Not only will you enjoy food more, your digestion will improve and you’ll be less likely to overeat.

Day 4: Say Ommmm

Meditation clears your mind and reduces anxiety and stress. Start simple: Close your eyes and take 10 deep belly breaths right now. Try to make each inhale and exhale longer than the last one. Focus on the sound of your breathing and be present in that moment. There — you just meditated!

Day 5: Stand tall

Good posture boosts confidence, makes you appear more powerful and increases your tolerance for pain, reports a recent North American study. Plus, it’s so easy: chin up, shoulders back and you’re good togo!

Day 6: Shrug it off
Live guilt-free today — beating yourself up about little things only leads to stress and self-defeat. No, we’re not suggesting you start living in denial (of those three doughnuts you ate this morning), but notice that when you allow yourself to enjoy small indulgences it’s easier to feel more satisfied and content.

Day 7: Eat a better brekkie
You’ve heard it before: Your morning meal is the most important one of the day — so make the most of it! And that means including a lean protein along with your complex carbs and fruit. This balanced approach will give you more energy for the day. It also takes more time to digest, so you’ll feel full longer. Here are a few ways to make sure you get that essential protein: a poached egg, cottage cheese with fruit or some natural peanut butter on toast.

Day 8: Take comfort in carbs

We mean it! Comfort food doesn’t have to be unhealthy. Complex carbs are satisfying and they help keep your blood sugar stable. Replace refined carbs like white sandwich bread or pasta with nutrient-dense whole grains, sweet potatoes and brown rice.

Day 9: Walk the block

It’s that simple. Just five minutes of outdoor activity boosts self-esteem, happiness and your heart. And the benefits add up, so the more mini walks you do, the better you’ll feel. Try this tonight: Instead of giving in to the munchies, go for a stroll.

Day 10: Put on a fresh face

Take time to wash your skin clean of makeup and environmental aggressors, like pollution, that can cause premature wrinkles. Pamper yourself before bed with a mini facial: Chill a damp washcloth in the freezer for a few minutes, then place it over your entire face to reduce puffy eyes, close pores and invigorate circulation.

Day 11: Start snacking

Eating between meals tames hunger without ruining your appetite. Just beware the call of the vending machine — and the three o’clock Doritos binge. Stock the fridge or cupboard at work with healthy nibbles like plain yogurt, pre-cut veggies and fruit, small pieces of dark chocolate(one at a time) and tons of nuts. Then when you feel like munching, you can easily grab something without having to think twice.

Day 12: Get naked
Stand in front of a mirror and admire yourself from nose to toes. Skip the critical commentary and concentrate on the good. Loving your body more means you’ll take better care of it.

Day 13: Stretch it out

Spend a few minutes stretching out the sore spots. Whether you do it first thing, after a workout or just before bed, stretching helps lengthen and strengthen muscles, which increases your flexibility and improves your posture. Plus, it’s so relaxing.

Day 14: Try a new sleep strategy

Take five minutes to empty your mind of the events of the day and banish unnecessary thoughts. Place your hand on your belly to check that you’re breathing deeply. Indulge in the peace and quiet and in taking the time for you. Before long, you’ll drift off to sleep.

Day 15: Just soak
Instead of a 10-minute shower, make time for 20 minutes in the tub. Light some candles, use bath salts, oils or bubbles, and let your mind wander until you’re pruney. Exfoliate your dry winter skin (don’t forget your feet!) and moisturize from head to toe.

Day 16: Edit your friends
Spend more time with people who inspire you, admire you — or challenge you. By consciously being around individuals who support you and make you feel good, you’ll naturally wean yourself of negative relationships that drain you.

Day 17: Go green
New Canadian research suggests that you can lower your heart-diseaserisk with lots of fruits and veggies, especially those leafy greens.Instead of the usual suspects like spinach, try something adventurous like kale. This superfood is packed with vitamins A and K and is a great source of fibre and vitamin C. Use it in salad or add it to a smoothie, soup or pasta dish. Or, for the healthiest snack ever, make kale chips: Tear leaves into pieces. Toss with a little olive oil and salt. Spread on a cookie sheet. Bake at 350F for 15 min, or until edges are brown.

Day 18: Reward yourself

Plan one thing that you can’t wait to do. Whether it’s coffee with a friend, a romantic dinner date or an afternoon with your kids, enjoying face time with the people you care about is a must for your health and happiness. Bonus: Having something to look forward to is also a great way to stay motivated through the week.

Day 19: Kick caffeine to the curb

Cut back on coffee — and on pop: They only dehydrate you by making you use the ladies’ room more often. If you’re craving soda and your energy feels low, try water mixed with an electrolyte or vitamin powder. With coffee, gradually downsize your portion size. If you normally go for extra-large, switch to large, then eventually to medium. We promise you won’t even notice the difference, but your body will.

Day 20: Turn your lights down low, way low

Why not go to bed 30 minutes earlier and avoid using bright gadgets one hour before turning in? The disruptive light from a TV or computer screen before sleep can be too stimulating for your nervous system and might prevent you from reaching deep sleep. Protect the quality of your sleep even more by replacing all the bulbs in your bedroom lamps with low-watt incandescent bulbs.

Day 21: Make up a mantra

Here’s ours: It’s a new day and it’s going to be a great one. A positive affirmation first thing will start you off in the right direction. Try writing down a goal or personal mantra and keeping it beside your bed — that way you can read it first thing in the morning.