Healthy

11 Simple Ways to Make 2021 Your Best Year Yet

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Reaching any goal just got a whole lot easier, thanks to these genius tricks that markedly improve your well-being.

Fruit bowls boost healthy eating by 67 percent.

Eating more heart-smart fruit and veggies doesn’t have to be a chore. In fact, tricking yourself into upping your intake is as easy as keeping apples in a bowl on your counter. Cornell scientists say storing produce in a prominent place helps you eat 67 percent more of these healthy snacks than if they were hidden in a crisper drawer, since you’re hardwired to crave food you see often.

Make exercise a snap by wearing green.

It’s no secret that when you feel energized, working out is that much more manageable. A trick to getting into that ready-to-go mindset: Slip on a green T-shirt. British scientists say volunteers who rode a stationary bike while watching a green-tinted video felt significantly less tired and more energetic than those who didn’t see green. Researchers say we automatically associate the color with abundance and joy, and those positive emotions help exercise time fly by.

Supercharge your water.

Before going for a walk, sip a glass of water mixed with 1 tsp. of spirulina powder. The beneficial algae’s chlorophyll and B vitamins increase muscle cells’ ability to convert fat into fuel. Proof: A study in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise found exercisers given spirulina were able to work out 32 percent longer and burn 11 percent more fat.

Lose weight with a bountiful breakfast.

Dropping unwanted pounds tops the list of New Year’s resolutions. And the good news is, you don’t have to count calories or starve yourself! Enjoy a bigger breakfast and dinner while slightly scaling back your lunch and watch the pounds fall off. Cornell scientists say subjects who ate a 250-calorie lunch and were free to eat as much as they wanted at their other daily meals shed nearly a pound a week without feeling hungry or deprived. Do this daily, and you’ll easily drop 25 pounds or more this year.

Swap your fork.

Trading your salad fork for a larger, heavier dinner fork is an easy way to avoid overeating. Oxford scientists found those who used heftier silverware were more mindful of their eating, which previous studies have proven helps women effortlessly eat up to 100 fewer calories at every meal. Bonus: Investigators found that people enjoyed their meals markedly more by swapping their silverware too!

Worry less with a trip down memory lane.

Those framed family photos your kids gifted you for Christmas are a sweet way to make the year more joyful. Simply recalling a happy memory helps your body produce 85 percent less of the stress hormone cortisol during challenging situations, Rutgers University scientists report. They say recalling the positive emotions associated with cherished moments helps the body better cope with stress.

Dream big.

Try closing your eyes for five minutes and picture yourself successfully tackling problems. A British study found that doing this twice a day cuts anxiety by up to 65 percent by training your brain to keep calm under pressure, plus reducing the output of stress hormones.

Kick the habit with a jigsaw puzzle.

For the 20 million folks looking to stop smoking this year, pausing for a puzzle break when a craving hits is a fun way to resist temptation. SUNY at Stony Brook scientists say enjoyable, mentally engaging tasks light up the same reward pathways in the brain as nicotine, making it feel like the urge to smoke has already been satisfied without ever lighting up.

Try a hand massage.

Stanford researchers found that a quick rub is a relaxing secret to quashing the impulse to smoke. When women spent two minutes massaging their palms, fingers and thumbs at the first sign of a craving, they were able to cut back to just one cigarette a day within a month.

Sleep deeper by lighting a candle.

Resolved to get more shut-eye? Light a lavender candle 30 minutes before bed. University of Minnesota scientists say the scent kickstarts the release of calming brain waves that lull you to sleep, making you 87 percent more likely to awaken feeling refreshed and 37 percent less likely to experience daytime drowsiness. And gazing at a flickering flame curbs the risk of restless sleep by 50 percent, researchers report. (Just blow it out before you go to sleep.)

Set out water.

To dodge sleep-disrupting snoring made worse by cool, dry air, place a bowl of water on your radiator or a heat vent. This adds moisture to the air, which Swedish scientists say eases snoring and improves sleep quality by 77 percent.

This story originally appeared in our print magazine.

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