It’s never a bad idea to implement positive, healthy changes in your life, but no time of year has that fresh slate feeling quite like January. Declaring “new year, new me!” may seem cliche at this point, but self-improvement is a sincerely worthy goal (whether you post about it on social media and hashtag the heck out of it or not). And while resolving to write that movie script you know will make you millions is certainly a worthy objective to work toward, setting small, actionable intentions that benefit your overall wellbeing are worth their weight in gold.
Here are six to get your 2019 started off on the right foot:
- Eat a healthy and diverse diet.
Unsurprisingly, January ‘tis the season for weight loss brands to target just about everyone with get-thin-quick plans and gimmicks. At best, most restrictive diets are ineffective in the long run; at worst, they’re dangerous. Rather than falling prey to marketers and influencers trying to sell you their “groundbreaking” food plans, consider opting out of diet culture altogether and focusing on what really matters: feeling your absolute best. Barring any allergies or specific sensitivities, most people thrive on a diet plan that consists of common sense choices and a nutritious array of mostly-plant-based options (with the occasional treats thrown in to stave off potential restriction-induced binges).
A good guide for integrating healthier options: renowned health writer Michael Pollan’s “food rules,” which include, “don’t eat anything your great grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food,” “don’t eat anything that won’t eventually rot,” and “don’t eat anything with more than five ingredients, or ingredients you can’t pronounce.” So maybe try stocking up on more colorful fresh produce of all kinds and cutting back on the processed stuff.
- Drink plenty of water.
Celebrities swear it’s the reason for their clear skin, and just about every wellness blogger claims to consume a gallon a day: H2O. While it may not eradicate zits or solve all your problems, water is a majorly important component in helping your body process waste, regulate temperature, lubricate joints, and protect sensitive tissues. While each person’s individual water needs may vary, sipping consistently throughout the day any time you’re thirsty is a good idea. Exercise, environment, and certain health conditions will affect your total intake needs, but try tuning into what your body is telling you and remember that beverages like herbal tea and juice can keep you hydrated too. And fruits and veggies are packed with water — another reason to include more of them in your diet!
- Aim for 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week.
You’ve heard it a million times: physical fitness is an essential part of overall health. And it’s true: exercise can do everything from reduce your risk of heart disease to regulate your blood sugar and insulin levels and more. It can even help boost your mood and sharpen your cognitive skills.
And it doesn’t take too much to reap the benefits: experts recommend getting at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity each week in addition to twice-weekly strengthening sessions.
But according to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only 22.9% of U.S. adults between the ages of 18 and 64 are meeting the guidelines. Whether people are intimidated by the gym or stuck in all-or-nothing thinking that convinces them to stay on the couch unless they’re ready to run a marathon, too few people are taking part in physical fitness. The good news is you don’t have to chain yourself to a treadmill to get results. Recent research indicates that short bursts of activity throughout the day count toward your overall goal. So take the stairs, park a few blocks away from your destination, walk with friends, and just keep moving as much as you can.
- Spend more time outside and less time online.
Look, we’re all guilty of falling into a swiping/scrolling spiral, sinking far too many minutes (or hours) into our tech devices and depriving ourselves of the great outdoors. But getting outside (and off your phone) is so important for your health. According to a report published in 2018, exposure to “greenspace” (i.e. undeveloped land with natural vegetation, including parks) reduced the risk of type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, premature death, preterm birth, stress, and high blood pressure. On the flip side, too much screen time has been linked to impaired vision, disturbed sleep, serious posture problems, and more. Consider logging off and getting some vitamin D (the “sunshine vitamin” that’s crucial for healthy bones, teeth, immunity, and more) — just be sure to wear sunblock!
- Get a good night’s rest every night.
Ah, sleep. That critical piece of the wellness puzzle that seems to always get overlooked. We all know we need it, yet so many of us are skimping on the 7-9 hours most adults need (more than one-third of us, actually). But sleep is a non-negotiable must for good health because it allows your body to repair, heal, and recover from the stress of everyday life. Not to mention lack of adequate sleep can negatively impact your motivation, mood judgement, and perception of events.
There are a slew of ways you can start cleaning up your sleep hygiene, but one important tip is to ditch tech, as studies have shown the blue light emitted from screens and electronics can suppress your body’s natural production of melatonin, the hormone that controls sleep-wake cycles. Other tips harken back to some of the health goals here: integrate more exercise, balanced eating into your life and you might just find yourself drifting off to dreamland with ease.
- Drive less (and save more!).
Everyone loves to save a few bucks (maybe it’s another one of your new year’s resolutions?), but budgeting is always better when there’s a health bonus involved. Enter Metromile: the pay-per-mile car insurance that’s perfect for low-mileage drivers. By stepping up your daily walking, jogging, biking, and more, you might find yourself keeping the car parked in the garage more than before. And while that might seem wasteful if you’re shelling out tons of cash on a monthly insurance premium, Metromile makes sure you’re only paying for the miles you actually drive, on top of a low monthly base rate. So no guilt, better, health, and more money in the bank. Sounds like a win all around — what a way to start the year!
If you’re ready to stop overpaying for car insurance and start fresh in 2019, visit metromile.com for a free quote or call 1.888.242.5204 to talk to a qualified agent. And if you’re already a Metromile customer and you’re looking for more ways to save, contact an agent online or by phone to talk about all the options out there.