Doc-approved secret tricks to look better are doctor-approved
Kick resolutions to the curb with these easy lifestyle hacks that make you look and feel better in a matter of days.
Over 80 percent of those well-intentioned January 1 resolutions fail in a matter of months according to research published by the University of Scranton, which is exactly why we should stop making them and move to a small, incremental positive change model instead. Focusing on small, every day lifestyle edits rather than major resolutions seems to be one of the keys to longterm success.
Picking even just one or two edits that are easily maintained over a long period of time offers a lower level of commitment, and certainly a lower disappointment threshold, than resolving to lift weights for 40 minutes each day if you've never so much as stepped foot in a gym.
Top doctors and experts weigh in with their favorite easy lifestyle hacks that lead to tangible, quick results:
Hydrate with excitement
Drink, drink, drink. We've all heard that one before, but it turns out that a good portion of our over-eating is due to dehydration, and keeping enough water on hand (and drinking it with gusto), is one of the easiest ways to maintain a healthy weight, improve our health, and even have better-looking skin according to Dr. Nona Djavid, a weight-loss specialist and the creator of SoulScale, meal-based weight loss program.
"Staying hydrated is good for your body, helps you stay full longer, and keeps your skin glowing," she says of this nearly-free hack. "Unfortunately, drinking water consistently isn’t the most exciting task. Adding cucumber, lemon, strawberries, and mint to your water will have you looking forward to every sip. Putting a straw in will make you feel like you are on vacation while still working hard to better yourself!"
Start with greens
While adding a side salad (and watch the dressing) is hardly revolutionary, the trick is to eat it, or the steamed broccoli, kale, snap peas, or other greens at the very beginning of the meal -- before bread, fried appetizers, or other dishes. It's a simple hack that could result in several dropped pounds in a matter of months.
"When you are hungry, as in truly hungry to the point a bite into a tomato sounds insanely appetizing, go for the most nutrient dense food first," Djavid says. "Think Vegetables, leafy greens, a handful of nuts, or fruit before you go for a carb-heavy alternative. Think salad or grilled veggies before your main dish. Grab a handful of nuts while you are cooking that bowl of pasta. This can reduce your total calorie intake by 30 percent each meal and this will add up to a healthier body over time."
Stay forever young with a few drops of this classic
"To help turn your skin around so every year becomes younger than your last, try adding an SPF into your daily skin routine," shares Dr. Doris Day, a New York dermatologist, TV personality, and professor. "I recommend SPF 30 or higher every day all year round, and studies show that those who wear sunscreen every day instead of just some of the time, have a 25 percent lower incidents of skin cancer and premature aging."
If that's not enough reason to slather just a few inexpensive drops on exposed skin areas each day, she goes on to explain that, "The vast majority of how your skin ages, even up to 90 percent, is due to exposure to UV rays. Your skin has the ability to repair and rejuvenate itself, all you have to do is stop insulting it. If you wanted to go one step further, add a retinol in the evening and watch those wrinkles melt away by the time warm weather returns."
Stop eating after dinner, lose two pounds a month
You don't need to cut back on entire meals or quit your snacking habit entirely, with this easy hack, making it a favorite of Jonathan Baktari, MD, the CEO e7 Health, a practice with offices in Las Vegas and Chicago. "Many of us may not realize the extra calories we eat after dinner as we snack and watch TV or play video games. Assuming you usually snack 300 extra calories-worth every night, by eliminating that, you’ll lose about two pounds a month."
“Those are the worst calories to consume," Baktari tells of nighttime snack calories. "They go straight to the bottom line and there’s no activity you could have done earlier in the day to make up for them.”
Walk around while you're on the phone
There's no reason to sit still if you're on a work call, a Zoom, or even just chatting with friends and family. "If you conducted just a one hour meeting each day, given a one-hour walk burns, on average, about 300 calories, you’d lose roughly two pounds each month just from staying active while on the phone," shares Baktari. "I encourage people to invest in headsets that remove sound for others on the call. I have meetings like this all the time. Taking a call while walking is an amazing way to enjoy work and improve your health.
Add collagen to your diet
Rather than focusing on what we should be eliminating from our diets and lives, Risa Groux, a CN functional nutritionist and certified autoimmune coach, suggests simply making sure we have enough collagen in our diets. "Collagen is the most abundant protein in our bodies. It is found in bones, muscles, ligaments, tendons, cartilage, skin, blood vessels, and the digestive system. These are vital connective tissues related to our skin’s strength and elasticity. As we age, the body’s ability to produce collagen reduces, this is why our skin sags and wrinkles."
Starting the day with a collagen shake, or adding collagen-rich foods like homemade bone broth or a serving of salmon or chicken at lunch can result in noticeable benefits in a matter of weeks. "Some of the many benefits of ingested collagen are healthier hair, skin and nails, gut repair, relieving joint pain, building muscle, and supporting liver and heart health."
Take 10 minutes of quiet relaxation time
That may sound a little too simple, but 10 minutes each day of genuine relaxation can do a world of good according to Dr. Robert Graham, a Harvard-trained doctor who is board certified in both internal and integrative medicine, and an advisor to Performance Kitchen, a Mediterranean diet-inspired, meal service. "We live in a fast-paced world. Trying to keep up with societal demands and expectations leads to stress, and the stress is killing us."
An easy, free solution? You betcha, he says. "Take a few seconds to consider your breathing, listen to a favorite song, prepare and cook your favorite recipe, or watch a funny video. Being mindful, even in small doses, reduces stress and as a result, cortisol (the stress hormone) production. Learn how to make mindfulness and mini-meditations part of your daily routine to better manage your response to stress."
Add some house plants
Did you know NASA has done extensive studies of the role of houseplants in cleansing the air, hoping to capitalize on these benefits for future space stations? Their studies have shown that certain houseplants are exceptionally good at cleansing the air (this is NASA’s houseplant list), release water vapor into the air to gently increase humidity and improve respiratory and skin health by offsetting dry air and heating systems, and potentially improve mood, energy, and mental focus with better quality air.
Dr. Virginia Lohr, a professor of horticulture at Washington State University, suggests that filling as little as two percent of the room with plants will make a noticeable impact -- and that impact can be noticeable in a matter of just a few days. The best part? Many houseplants require little maintenance beyond occasional watering, making this healthy lifestyle hack one of the easiest on the list for just about everyone to check off.
Start with set-it-and-forget-it favorites like this spider plant from Lively Root. Add a few to a favorite room's shelves, window sills, or other areas with a little natural light and you'll love how quickly home starts to feel better.
Chew every bite of food at least 30 times
Sometimes it's not about what you eat, but how you eat it. That's what Deepali Kashyap, MD, FACOG, a gynecologist and hormonal health expert based in Las Vegas, Nevada says of this simple act of mindfulness. "Digestion is the mechanical and chemical breakdown of food into smaller organic fragments that can be absorbed by the body. When we don’t chew our food enough and we just chug it down because we don’t have time either because we are running late for a meeting or we are watching a show and not paying attention to what we are eating, it creates an environment where incomplete and improper digestion results.
Chewing every bite 30 times or more is more important than you might think. "Even though we may have eaten the healthiest food available, the intended effect is not achieved because instead of being absorbed and assimilated in the body, those wonderful ingredients are just excreted out," she explains. It's also an effective way to slow the pace of eating, which may make you fuller faster.
Stop cooking in Teflon pots and pans
Swap those old Teflon non-stick pans out for cast iron, or more modern ceramic-style cookware ASAP. "Teflon is a safe and stable compound. However, at temperatures above 570°F (300°C), Teflon coatings on nonstick cookware start to break down, releasing toxic chemicals into the air and the food that is being cooked," explains Kashyap. "If the Teflon pan is scratched, it further increases the risk of release of toxic chemicals and as a result an exposure to these toxic elements. Alternatives like ceramic, stainless steel and cast iron are more suitable."
While this hack may not result in weight loss or glowing skin, overall health being improved by the simple act of changing the pots and pans we cook in is an easy enough hack that it earned a deserving spot on this list.
Hydrate your hands
It's no surprise handwashing is more popular than ever, in fact, it was the first tip experts agreed on at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, but all that hand washing can lead to some seriously dry skin. "Moisturisizing is a must. Dry, cracked hands are not only unsightly but they can be extremely painful," tells Dr. Adam Cirlincione, a board certified New York podiatrist and co-founder of Dr.'s Remedy. "Keep hands well moisturized by washing them in lukewarm water, which helps retain moisture, and moisturize often."
This simple tip is easy enough for just about anyone to master, and has studies have shown that frequent use of hand creams can actually prevent future dry, cracked hand skin issues and even prevent prematurely old-looking skin. "For an added benefit, look for a moisturizer with sunscreen to help against the daily UV rays hands are exposed to. You can also use a moisturizing treatment for your nails such as Dr.'s Remedy Hydration Nail Treatment which is infused with Pentavin and Biotin to help moisturize and strengthen nails."
If you love this article, you'll get a kick out of what doctors this Facebook image test says about your mind.