Did you make a resolution to start a healthier lifestyle? Do you feel overwhelmed with the information out there? Are you ready to start feeling better with a few simple changes? Do you want to fit into the jeans you wore in high school or in your 20s? Here are a few things you can start doing today. Conquer 1 new thing each day or each week and start your journey toward optimal health!

1. Seltzer water

Drink sparkling water when you are craving something sweet or are sick of water. There are no calories and they taste great. Rather than giving yourself the afternoon treat from the vending machine, bring your sparkling water and sip on that instead. Tailor Made Nutrition carries the Polar Seltzer water that I love! You can also find this at Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods. Be sure to avoid the waters with added sweeteners or artificial sweeteners!

2. Eat your GREENS !

And I am not just talking about your broccoli (yes, your mother was right!), but about kale, collard greens, and/or mustard greens. If cooked correctly, they are delicious! I am hooked on this recipe right now – give it a whirl! Greens are packed with so many nutrients and antioxidants without the calories so eat up.

3. Throw away the bread in your cupboard

What nutritional value does bread give you? Did you know that high fructose corn syrup is in most breads? If you are going to eat a grain choose whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, or amaranth. I even cook quinoa like oatmeal for breakfast! If you are trying to slim down though, grains should be limited to no more than 1 cup cooked per day.

4.  Find a friend

I am sure there is a find a friend online option or just ask one of your co-workers, neighbors, partner, or sister to join you in improving your health for 2014. We are social human beings and need accountability partners. If I am meeting a friend at the gym, I am much more likely to make it there on time. Find a friend who can make sure you show up at the gym and can keep you accountable with your diet. You won’t have to have the “I’m not eating that now, because…” conversation. Your healthy friend will know exactly what you mean, because they will be doing it too!

5.  Reward yourself

Be careful with this one! Indulge in a massage or pedicure, go to lunch with a friend,  read a great book, or take a road trip to Duluth and watch the waves roll in. I had an “ah ha” moment with a patient one day when she said, “I just feel like I deserve that diet coke!”. She is a hard-working mom who deserves so much more than a diet coke. Your body deserves to be taken good care of, and last time I checked, diet coke wasn’t doing much for your health or waist line. Choose things that honor your body and your health.

6.  Try something NEW

We do not grow by remaining stagnant. I am not talking about taking a different route to work, but riding your bike to work (wait until these sub-zero temps pass!). Try a new restaurant, travel, do a new work out, sign up for a class, cook with a food you have never had before, or start a new hobbie. You might find yourself standing a little taller, sticking up to your co-worker, and (gasp) trying something else new because it felt so good. When we try something new our adrenaline and endorphins increase. These are feel good neurotransmitters help boost your confidence and feeling good inside. You never know, you might just enjoy these new adventures!

7.  Sign up for a RACE

Yes you. And yes, you can do it (remember #6?!). Maybe you can’t run, but you can walk. There are hundreds of walks, runs, triathlons, you name it. My mom did her first race this year and jogged a 5K. She was nervous about it, but felt great afterwards and was so glad she did it. Training for the race will provide you with a goal and purpose to keep you motivated in the gym. If you find someone to do the race with you it will be a lot of fun. You can even get your kids involved and have them do it with you. Ready, set, go!

8. Dance!

Dance if that is was you enjoy, or do yoga, cycling, mountain climbing, boxing, walking, running, weight lifting, or cross-fit if you prefer that. The point is to stay active while doing something you enjoy. If you hate the treadmill, then don’t use it! Try the work out classes at your gym until you find something you enjoy. Oftentimes people enjoy classes they are good at. If dancing is your thing then try Zumba or hip-hop. Salsa anyone?!

9.  Cleanse 

Do you feel more sluggish and tired after the holidays? Doing a cleanse or detox at the start of the new year is a great way to reset your metabolism, lose the holiday pounds you gained, increase your energy, and develop a new diet plan for the upcoming year. I am just finishing my cleanse and after 10 days I have more energy, my digestion feels better, and am back to better eating habits (see #2!). I offer 14 day cleanses, and despite what you might think, patients often report that it wasn’t as hard as they thought it was going to be and they feel great afterward.

10. Eat dinner for breakfast

Throw the cereal out and opt for eggs or dinner for breakfast! Including veggies and protein in your breakfast will start your blood sugar off on the right foot. Muffins, pastries, bagels, and doughnuts are packed with sugar and carbs. A bagel and cream cheese has 450 calories, blueberry muffin has 426 calories and 61 grams of carbs, and a glazed doughnut has 260 calories and 31 grams of carbs. All those calories are then stored as fat. Try this recipe or this recipe for a few ideas. Make the egg bake ahead of time – grab a square in the morning and you have breakfast in less time than you can go through the caribou drive through.

11. Drink Water

At least half your body weight in ounces every day. Work up to this if you haven’t been drinking enough water or you will be in the bathroom all day. Feeling more constipated after the holidays is very common and staying hydrated can help.

12.  Try 1 new food each week

Do you ever go to the bulk section or the ethnic food aisle and wonder what everything is? Pick something new up each time you are at the store and try a new recipe. Let me know if you find anything worth checking out! Kill two birds with one stone with this one and see #6!

13.  Use fresh herbs

Healthy food can taste good too with the right seasonings and fresh herbs. Butter, sugar, and salt can make anything taste good, so if you are cooking without you will have to get more creative with your seasonings. Basil, sage, and rosemary are a few of my favorites. Add them to your sweet potatoes, stir fries, soups, and even your eggs.

14. Visit your Naturopathic Doctor in 2014!

What are you waiting for? I can help you with your health concerns, diet, and supplements to make sure you are doing what is best for your body. Everyone is different and it is important that you treat your health this way too. Nutrition, natural therapies, and preventative care are my specialties.

I wish you a happy and healthy 2014 and hope to hear from you soon!
Best Regards,
Dr. Katie Corazzo
Practicing in Edina and Woodbury, Minnesota.