New year, new you: 5 tips for a healthier year ahead
The phrase “time flies” may be a cliché, but before we realise it, an entire month has passed by.
At the dawn of the new decade, you may have written down some New Year’s resolutions. Perhaps you hope to lose weight, grow your savings or deepen your relationships. But one or two months have passed and despite making some changes, you begin to question yourself if you’re working towards those goals, or whether they’ll even stick.
While it’s true that research shows only 8% of those who make New Year’s resolutions successfully achieve them1, there is no need to despair. You still have majority of the year to make baby-step changes to your habits.
Plus, if your resolution is to really get into the peak of health this year, it’d be important to know that true health isn’t just about fitting into those skinny jeans. Real health stems from wellness, from the inside out – treating yourself right and letting your body do the rest.
If this sounds a little abstract, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. If you’ve still got that motivation, here are five tips to start the Chinese New Year right, to take steps to the new you you’ve always dreamed of. Remember, wellness is a journey!
1. You are what you Eat
That’s not to say you will turn into a slice of pizza or a bowl of wonton noodles. But the age-old adage “you are what you eat” holds true. While you’re probably aware that choosing to have a balanced diet reduces the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, cardiovascular disease and some cancers, choosing to eat healthy also has an impact on your day. Research has shown that eating certain foods will give you an energy boost – great for powering through a task or staying focused during an afternoon meeting. Feeling peckish? Grab some nuts or popcorn to satiate your cravings and increase energy production. Need a sweet snack? Maybe pick dark chocolate instead of some sweets – the higher cocoa content helps the delivery of oxygen to the brain and muscles. Plus, chocolate is known to be a mood booster too.
And for those looking to lose weight, research has also shown that exercise alone isn’t enough2. That’s because it’s easy to choose a larger bowl of noodles, or move a lot less, after an intense gym session.
If healthy eating is a challenge, do recognise that depriving yourself of food may end up being counterproductive. Instead, consciously make better choices little by little. Want something sweet after lunch? Maybe pick a sliced watermelon instead of a bubble tea. Can’t decide between deep fried or yong tau foo in soup? Pick what will make you feel better after your meal.
And if you ever find yourself thinking about what to eat, the answer could just be in your pocket - check out the many dining deals available on DBS Lifestyle App. Eat better and save money - now that’s a win-win.
2. Present over Perfect
We’ve all been there - wake up, get to work in the shortest amount of time possible, scroll through social media during your commute, pick up a snack almost unknowingly, attend to multiple emails and notifications … and an entire day has passed, yet you can barely recall what you did or why you did it.
While your initial burst of motivation may have had you creating a strict plan with only clean meals and intense exercise, these things only scratch the surface of total health. For clarity, Wikipedia describes “clean eating” as a fad diet based on the belief that eating whole foods in their most natural state and avoiding processed foods such as refined sugar offers certain health benefits. But while both of these are great, to move a step closer to good health and wellness, a new concept you may want to play around with is mindfulness – staying in the present moment.
According to Mindful magazine, mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us3. If the concept is a little confusing, mindfulness can be cultivated through proven techniques, so try them and feel it for yourself. For instance, simply sitting for a minute and focusing on your breathing can help centre your thoughts. If you need to clear your head while at work, you could find a spot to pace up and down, focusing on your movement4.
There are also free mobile apps - such as Calm - to guide you through simple meditation exercises. With mindfulness, you can be more aware of the stress you carry every day that may spill over to other areas of your life, and also be better able to handle the tasks that come your way.
3. Soak up the Sun
In an urban jungle like Singapore, we often spend our time indoors. It’s also tempting to be in air-conditioned comfort all day as we can get sticky and uncomfortable, especially when it becomes extremely humid.
But did you know there are health benefits to getting a dose of sunshine? Time in the sun boosts Vitamin D production in our bodies, which is vital for calcium absorption and bone growth. The importance of this doesn’t wane with age either.
If you’ve been feeling a little down, sunshine could also lift your mood - exposure to the sun is associated with the production of seratonin in the brain which aids in regulating your moods, according to experts. And if you’re the type that can’t live without coffee, some sunshine could help that energy boost go further. When your eyes detect light, your brain wakes up and releases cortisol, which in turn increases metabolism!
Have a few leave days coming up and want to explore the great outdoors overseas? Go ahead and book that trip - block out some time for meditation and bask in some sunshine. Don’t forget to slather a good amount of sunblock and take your DBS Visa Debit Card along with you. Linked to your My Account, you won’t have to fear about running out of cash overseas. Plus, it is made fuss-free with Travel Mode beta on DBS/POSB digibank – all you have to do is to switch on Travel Mode and you’re all set to focus on recharging during your vacation.
4. Show up to Work Out
You may have signed up for a gym membership, or bought a few pieces of equipment ready to work out at home. Good job! While exercise may not always directly contribute to weight loss, it is nonetheless important for overall fitness.
The hardest battle, however, is getting yourself there. But once you’re at the gym, or once you’re changed and all set up at home, half the battle’s won. Remember too that good things take time - be patient with yourself if you don’t immediately see results. Encourage yourself with a little reward if you manage to exercise a set number of times in a month - that way, you won’t think it’s that much of a chore.
If you’re looking to embark on an exercising regime but not sure where to start, you could check out ActivPass. You could redeem a yoga or High Intensity Interval Training class with your DBS points, and even enjoy 20% cashback + additional 5% for all POSB/DBS card holders for any purchase of regular classes.
And if you’re thinking of trying out yoga - or getting more serious with your practice - you can receive a S$50 Platinum Yoga voucher when you purchase a 12-month membership with them.
5. It all works Together for your Own Good
Choosing to start the year on a healthy note is a great first step! While consistency is key, remember to give yourself grace if you miss a workout or end up eating a few unhealthy meals in a row. A healthy diet, a strong body and a clear mind all work together, so you can be the very best version of yourself every day. It’s never too late to begin changing your habits - little by little - to hit your fitness goals. And by the end of the year, you can celebrate knowing you’ve put in your best!