By Kenan Trebincevic
As an athletic, fit 35-year-old midtown physical therapist, people are always asking me if there are ways to avoid injuries, illness and even surgery. The answer is yes! With a little foresight and careful planning, you can save yourself tons of trouble – both physically and emotionally. So here are some fast, easy and cheap ways to get healthier and jump start your new year.
1. WATERWAY: Wake up and drink 8 ounces of water –with a little lemon – right away -before you brush your teeth, put anything else in your mouth or turn on any devise. Instead of soda or high calorie fruit juice, try to only drink water for just one day – to stay hydrated and flush out toxins. See how much better you’ll feel already.
2. EYE CANDY: Redecorate your home or work space with photos or artwork that makes you feel happier. I hung two pictures of my favorite soccer team winning a big game around my office so it’s the first thing I see when I walk in. One client, an author, posted her best reviews of all time on the desk above her shelf. Remind yourself you’re a winner from the start of the day. Fix the lighting by putting a brighter bulb for your office or a dimmer one for your bedroom.
3. SLEEP BETTER: Flip your mattress both ways – which is better for your back. While you’re at it, do an extra load of laundry – in hot water – to better clean your sheets, pillow, duvet cases and mattress cover to get rid of dirt, germs and dust that could be upsetting your allergies or constricting your breathing.
4. READJUST YOUR OFFICE CHAIR & POSTURE: Make sure you are sitting upright, without crossed legs, and your feet are flat on the ground. Slouching is bad for your neck and lower back.
5. UPGRADE YOUR MUSIC: Whether it’s new free songs on your iTunes on your iPod or Spotify on your iPhone or even switching the radio station at work to something you like better, having special music you love during your commute, exercise time or lunch will ease your stress. Research actually shows that patients need less anesthetic during surgery when they are listening to melodies they choose.
6. GO OUTSIDE FOR LUNCH: Instead of ordering in Chinese at your desk or going to a restaurant, try eating a bag lunch at a local park. Then take a 10-minute walk around the block. Getting fresh air, some sunlight and moving your legs will improve your mood and digestion.
7. USE A FITNESS APP: It doesn’t matter if it’s Swork it, Fitbit or Nike on your iPhone, iPad or Android, studies show that people who track their daily steps start walking more.
8. EXERCISE FOR 10 TEN MINUTES: When you get home, you don’t have to work out for an hour. Just commit to ten minutes. It could be jumping rope, riding a bike, dancing or doing circuit wait training. Take the stairs instead of the elevator or walk 10 blocks instead of taking a subway, bus or cab.
9. SWITCH BEVERAGES: Instead of drinking beer or hard liquor, switch to having a glass or two of red wine. And sip it slowly. If you’re on the wagon, sodas are still bad for you, so try to transfer to green tea.
10. UPGRADE YOUR SNACKS: I know you want a candy bar, cookies or a brownie. But healthier snacks like Greek yogurt, nuts or fruit will often satisfy your sweet tooth and let you live longer and slimmer.
11. FINISH EATING SOONER: Schedule dinner for earlier than usual and try to not put anything in your mouth past 9 pm. If you must, go for a banana, yogurt or turkey. If you simplify must have those steak and potatoes at midnight, then at least use two pillows or put one under your bed so you are elevated when you sleep, which will stop indigestion and acid reflux.
12. WATCH YOUR MOVEMENTS: If you must Binge-watch “Master of None” or “Orange is the New Black,” move your body while doing it. Force yourself to dance, do weight repetitions, squats, leg lifts. Putting chips in your mouth doesn’t count.
13. EAT FOR POWER: For one day, try filling up on foods that are great for you: salmon, mixed berries, green vegetables. Louis C.K. says “I don’t stop eating when I’m full. The meal isn’t over until I hate myself.” For once, notice how good it feels to not feel stuffed, bloated or disgusting after dinner.
14. HANG OUT WITH HEALTHIER FRIENDS: You know the college buddy you call when you want to get smashed until 4 in the morning? Not him. Studies show that spending time with people who drink, smoke, do drugs or overeat makes it more likely you will too. So make a plan to get together with a coworker or pal you admire, who is in shape, in a happy relationship and/or doing well in life. Chances are, their success will rub off on you.
15. TURN OFF EVERYTHING: For an hour before bed, turn off your cell phone and computer and resist the urge to check updates on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Nothing will replenish your mind and body like a good hours of sleep. So leave your phone and tablet in the living room to set yourself up for better slumber to start the next day of your year – and life.
Kenan Trebincevic is a physical therapist at Performance Physical Therapy in Midtown Manhattan. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Slate, Salon and Esquire and his coauthored book “The Bosnia List” was published by Penguin last year. Trebincevic can be reached at [email protected].