It’s not too late to reverse your worst habits (stopping smoking, drinking, over-eating, and more) and immediately start living a happier, healthier life.
Snacking when you’re not hungry
Losing touch with your body’s natural hunger and satisfaction signals can lead to chronic overeating and unhealthy extra pounds – which increases your risk for diabetes, heart disease, and other serious conditions. And if it’s junk foods you snack on, you’re also flooding your body with unhealthy ingredients.
By paying attention to your hunger signals and switching to healthy snacks, you can boost nutrition, control cravings, and avoid energy slumps.
Your weight will fall to a healthier level, and you’ll replace unhealthy trans and saturated fat, sugar, refined carbohydrates, and extra sodium with a more nutritious fare.
How to fix it: Eat because you’re hungry – not because you’re stressed, bored, angry, or sad. And finish eating when you feel just a little bit full, not stuffed.
Avoid keeping unhealthy food in your home, or at least make sure you have more healthy foods, like fresh fruits, veggies, nuts.
Think low-fat versus fatty treats; whole-grain versus unhealthy carbs. And when you eat those healthy snacks, eat them as if they were a meal: on a plate, accompanied by a glass of water, with you sitting down at the table.
Spending too much time on the couch watching TV
The more TV you watch, the less physical activity you’re getting, increasing your odds of being overweight and developing type 2 diabetes.
If television is replacing time you’d otherwise be spending engaged in a favorite hobby, visiting with friends, or exercising your mind, you may also be speeding up memory loss.
By committing to a healthy TV/activity balance, you can burn more calories, become more fit, and reduce your odds for related health problems quickly.
You’ll have a fitter body and more time for sleep, plus more energy, a better mood, sharper mind, and more social connections.
How to fix it: Try to keep your TV time to a minimum of two hours a day, and make sure you’re getting at least 30 minutes of exercise.
Get the best of both worlds by doing some light workouts, like walking in place or doing sit-ups, while you’re watching. Even doing some household chores, like vacuuming or doing laundry, during the commercials can add up to 20 minutes’ worth of calorie-burning time.
Avoid snacking in front of the TV, which makes it far too easy to eat hundreds of calories’ worth of chips and barely realize it.
Overspending your way into debt
Money worries can have serious health consequences. In a Rutgers University telephone survey, responders said financial stress contributed to high blood pressure, depression, insomnia, headaches, digestion troubles, aches and pains, ulcers, excessive eating and drinking, and gaining or losing weight.
Regaining a hold on your finances takes time, can be hard on your ego and your lifestyle, and requires you to be constantly vigilant, plus it’s all too easy to revert back to your old habits. But for those who succeed, and many do, the results are nothing short of amazing.
You’ll feel more in control of your life with less stress and fewer worries.
How to fix it: There are many things you can do to gain control over your finances. Educate yourself on the basic rules and methods of personal finance – including credit cards, mortgages, budgeting, and investing.
Create and keep a budget, keeping track of how much money is coming in every month and how much you’re spending on essentials. Pay at least the minimum each month on your bills, to stay ahead of your expenses and prioritize paying more to the credit card with the highest interest rate.
Automatic bill pay can ensure you’re never hit with late fees. A to be sure some of your paycheck gets automatically transferred to your savings account, set up recurrent monthly transfers via your employer’s payroll department or your own online banking.
Eating too much fast food
A steady diet of double cheeseburgers and fries washed down with an oversize soda or milkshake can lead to a growing waistline and the health problems, like heart disease and diabetes, that come with it.
Trans fat, often found in fast food, raises triglycerides and LDL cholesterol, which increases inflammation and contributes to the buildup of fatty plaque in artery walls.
The health benefits of making the switch to healthy food will be almost immediate and will have substantial lasting benefits.
How to fix it: Making a permanent lifestyle change won’t be easy at first. Fast food is super-convenient, inexpensive, and, thanks to all that fat, salt, and sugar, undeniably tasty. Start by cutting back a little each week and by buying less each time you go.
For instance, replace the soda with water or the fries with a salad. Avoid popping into a fast-food joint out of habit or on a whim, especially when you really aren’t hungry or when it isn’t mealtime. Cook more at home.
Preparing your own healthy meals will save you money. If the inconvenience is a factor, don’t overlook healthier prepared meals from your local grocery store or sandwich shop.
Getting sunburned a few times every summer
If you love sunbathing or make an effort to maintain a golden-bronze tan, you’ve unwittingly contributed to the aging of your skin. Sunbathing destroys the elastic fibers that keep skin looking firm and smooth, leading to earlier wrinkles, blotches, freckles, and discolorations.
More important, sunburns contribute significantly to cancers of the skin. If you’ve included trips to the tanning salon, that’s even worse. Despite what ads suggest, using tanning beds doesn’t build up a ‘safe’ base tan. It actually raises your risk for skin cancer and wrinkles.
How to fix it: First of all, always wear a high-SPF sunscreen if you’re going to be in the sun. Sticking to the shade and wearing a hat, sunglasses, long sleeves, and pants during peak sunburn hours can also help keep your skin safe. Schedule an annual ‘mole check’ by a dermatologist; the doctor will inspect your skin for any unusual changes.
And keep your eyes on your skin yourself. Anything new that doesn’t look right to you should be checked by a doctor. Finally, if you can’t live without the bronzed look, you can get it without the cancer risk by using a self-tanner.
Behavior that leaves you angry, worried, or stressed all the time
An unhappy lifestyle releases a cascade of stress hormones that increase your blood pressure and blood sugar, lower immunity, slow digestion, and make you feel depressed and downright mean.
Nature intended stress to be a short-lived fight-or-flight response to a threat, but modern life with chronic stressors can have a far-reaching impact on your health, such as cravings for high-fat, sugary foods that increase your risk of being overweight.
Both the ingredients in the bad food and the added weight increase your risk for heart disease and diabetes.
How to fix it: A regained sense of joy and control is worth its weight in gold, and the physical health benefits will be substantial as well. Next time you feel a stressful situation emerging, work hard at managing it and keeping your cool.
Among the most proven stress-relief methods are yoga, meditation, and deep breathing. Make the most of your downtime, to enjoy a relaxing hobby and fully immersing yourself in it.
Don’t be afraid to embrace your sense of fun, optimism, and silliness every now and then. And finally, just as being less stressed can make you healthier, living a healthier lifestyle can decrease your stress level and help you better manage stressful situations better.