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5 Easy Ways to Trick Yourself Into a Healthier New Year

A standing desk setup; a woman in a yoga class; a hand holding a smartphone with a fitness app

Want to make some healthy lifestyle changes in the new year but unsure where to start? Adopting a healthier lifestyle doesn’t have to be an enormous change. In fact, you’re more likely to succeed if you set realistic goals. If you make smaller changes at first, you can trick yourself into making better choices.

Trying to change everything at once is a recipe for frustration (and usually, failure). Instead, try incorporating healthier habits into your regular routine. It’s all about shifting things you already do so you get more positive outcomes, without having to dedicate tons of time and extra energy to them. Start with these easy changes, and see what a difference they can make in very little time.

Change Up Your Workspace

A standing desk with a computer on it; a desk with a computer monitor riser

Sitting down all day isn’t great for your health. When we’re inactive for long periods, it can cause discomfort and health issues. Your workspace can be one of the easiest places to incorporate a bit of extra activity into your daily routine, without a lot of time or extra effort.

If it’s feasible, consider replacing your regular desk with a standing desk. It’s an easy way to get an instant health upgrade. If you add some movement while you’re standing, like stretching or walking in place, it’ll make a huge difference.

For many people, an adjustable or convertible standing desk will be your best bet. If you’re able to totally replace your current setup, consider something sleek but effective, like the VIVO Electric. With a variable height of 29.5-49.6 inches, it can be adapted for any height, as well as for alternating between sitting and standing.

VIVO Electric Stand Up Desk

Plenty of range and a sleek design to add some movement to your day.

If you’re not ready to swap out your entire desk, consider an adjustable riser that can temporarily add more height to your current desk. This will at least allow you to stand up part of the time. An option like the FEZIBO Height-Adjustable Desk Converter might work best. Just adjust the height, plop your computer on top, and then you can switch between standing and sitting with ease.

FEBIZO Height Adjustable Desk Converter

Convert your desk to a sit/stand desk.

Pick Up an Active Hobby

A woman watering plants.

A lot of people tend to pick up new hobbies at the start of a new year. You can double the positive impact by choosing an active one. This doesn’t mean you should immediately commit to running or some elaborate training regimen. Instead, look for a hobby that genuinely interests you, but also requires a bit more movement.

For example, something like a dance class or hiking nearby trails might be more enjoyable than a daily workout at the gym. You can choose any activity that involves more walking or movement, like gardening, foraging, metal detecting, or anything else that interests you.

Get a Fitness Tracker

A woman in a yoga class with a purple FitBit watch; a hand wearing a FitBit holding up a smartphone with the FitBit app displayed

Technology isn’t the complete enemy of fitness. In fact, sometimes, it can be a major help. There are apps out there for literally everything, and they can keep you on track, while doing most of the number-crunching and tracking for you.

For even more ease, consider splurging on a wearable fitness tracker or watch. These devices can automatically track your activities, and even help you meet your goals by providing up-to-date, accurate feedback.

The classic, of course, is the FitBit. The FitBit Charge 4 is ideal for setting fitness goals, with real-time workout tracking, heart rate monitoring, calorie burn tracking, and much more. Its GPS can even help you determine the intensity levels of outdoor workouts, like hikes, runs, and walks.

Cook at Home More Often

A couple cooking at home.
BAZA Production/Shutterstock.com

No matter what kind of takeout, pre-packaged, or restaurant food you buy, the vast majority have one thing in common: lots of added butter, oils, and salt. Simply cooking at home more often—even if you prepare similar foods and flavors—will still likely cut down your fat and salt consumption.

As a bonus, the unhealthier the meal, the more complicated it usually is to make. Easy recipes are often also the healthiest. Lean proteins, like chicken or fish, cooked simply with a few veggies and some easy grains are always a good bet. Pick up a cookbook or two, or check out some recipes online to get started.

Another bonus of cooking at home is all the cash you’ll save money from not ordering takeout or hitting drive-thrus each week.

Hide Unhealthy Foods

Junkfood on a pantry shelf.
Eleanor McDonie/Shutterstock.com

If you have trouble resisting temptation when it comes to food, use the old “out of sight, out of mind” principle. A 2016 study found that people with unhealthy snacks within easy reach were far more likely to keep eating them in higher quantities than those who had to go looking for them.

The best way to embrace this idea is to avoid buying unhealthy foods at all. However, if others in your home aren’t into giving up their sweets, just store them in a cabinet or somewhere out of sight. Meanwhile, keep healthy snacks and drinks in the most convenient spots.

Bright, colorful fruits and veggies will draw the eye and look appetizing. You can also up your water intake—an excellent healthy habit to embrace—by keeping a water cooler or pitcher available at all times. This should help you be less tempted to pop open a can of soda or energy drink. Dress up your water with a few slices of lemon or cucumber for a bit more flavor.

These tips can help you embrace a healthier lifestyle in the new year, whether you want to get started on a serious fitness journey or just want to make better choices. Once you feel comfortable with these small changes, it’ll be far easier to take things to the next level.

Amanda Prahl Amanda Prahl
Amanda Prahl is a freelance contributor to LifeSavvy. She has an MFA in dramatic writing, a BA in literature, and is a former faculty associate focusing on writing craft and history. Her articles have appeared on HowlRound, Slate, Bustle, BroadwayWorld, and ThoughtCo, among others. Read Full Bio »
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