Sometimes you just need a manual for life. So here's one on how to live healthy and happy. You don't have to do all 100 at once, choose a few from each section, from food, exercise to romantic relationships and mental health:
Here are 100 ways to live healthy and happy:
1. Skip the over-processed packaged foods for fresh food
This means less Cornflakes and more fruit for breakfast, less chicken nuggets and more chargrilled chicken breast for dinner.
2. Read the ingredients list
There are many ingredients you don’t want to eat too much of as they may pose health risks. This includes hydrogenated oils, monosodium glutamate (MSG), sugar (and all the other names it hides under), and more.
3. Clear out the junk your cabinets and fridge
If you don’t have junk food, you won’t have to resist the temptation. Fill your kitchen with healthy snacks (carrot sticks with hummus, etc) and that’s what you’re going to eat when you’re peckish.
4. Swap refined for whole
Go for the brown rice, wholegrain pasta, and wholegrain bread which comes with the key nutrients intact (fibre, minerals, vitamins). Refined grains just give you empty carbs which pile on the calories without the nutrients.
5. Sit at a table to eat
Instead of eating dinner in front of the telly or while rushing to work, try to allocate time for meals at a table. This will help you be more mindful of what you’re consuming and stop the mindless bingeing and eating when you’re bored.
6. Eat throughout the day
While eating at night by itself will not cause you to gain weight, you’ll be more famished if you wait till the end of the day to have your largest meal. This means you’ll overeat and pile on extra calories. You probably want to stay away from that.
7. Pay attention to serving sizes
Everyone is overly obsessed about fat content and calorie-counting, but our true enemy is portion sizes. Restaurants serve us food that’s meant for two, but we polish off everything on our plates. In the mornings, we pour ourselves a bowl of cereal that’s actually 3 portions. Learn how much a portion of food is here.
8. Dont buy popcorn at the cinema
While popcorn on its own is actually a wholegrain and filled with nutrients, the people at the cinema drenches it in sugar and oil. Sneak in a healthy snack of your own instead. Here are some ideas.
9. Buy fresh / frozen veggies
If you have something lying around, you’re more than like to eat it. While fresh veggies cannot keep for long, frozen veggies are fast, easy, and convenient, and can stay in your freezer for a while. The best thing? They’re as nutritious as fresh veggies, or perhaps even more so, because they’re flash-frozen (which stops their nutrient-loss).
10. Eat from a smaller plate
Larger plates make a serving of food seem smaller, while smaller plates make the exact same amount of food seem more. Research says so! Use this optical illusion to your advantage and start using tiny plates now.
11. Steam your veggies
Keep the antioxidants intact as much as possible by steaming instead of boiling.
12. Ask for dressing / sauce on the side
And don’t use all of it. Sauces pack a lot of sugar and other additives, so it’s better to pay attention to how much you’re taking in, than realise too late that you’ve eaten 20 teaspoons of sugar and 10 teaspoons of salt in one sitting.
Go from full-blown Coke to Coke Light, then slowly trade-up till you get to water. Incremental changes are more effective at modifying behaviour than drastic diet changes.
14. Avoid trans fats
These are created in an industrial process that adds hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils to make them more solid. Businesses love them because they’re cheap, convenient, and make foods last a long time. Your body won’t like it so much as trans fat raises your bad cholesterol levels (LDL) while lowering your good cholesterol levels (HDL). It also increases your risk of developing heart disease and stroke.
15. Spice instead of salt
You can easily add flavour to your cooking through spices, without being too heavy handed on the salt. See how here.
16. Steer clear of trigger foods
These are the foods that causes you to unleash the kraken within once you’ve taken a bite, you can’t stop. Things like chips, mac ‘n’ cheese, candy bars, cookies, etc. Stay away!
17. Check if you are really hungry
Before you reach for a snack, check if you’re really hungry in this flowchart here.Sometimes, you could be mistaking boredom or thirst for hunger, so it’s good to be aware of that.
18. Always eat your greens first
Instead of digging into the meat or other dishes, fill your plate with greens first. This way, you get half full on the superfoods before moving on to the less super foods.
19. Swap the fruit drinks / fruit-flavoured drinks for real sugar-free juice
Fruit drinks / fruit-flavoured drinks aren’t really juice, despite what you may think. They also harbour quite a lot of sugar that you probably don’t want in your system. Looks for 100% fruit juice cartons with no additives, or squeeze your own juice instead. However, it’s still better to eat the fruit than drink the juice.
20. Ask for ‘kosong’ at the mamak stall
You can do without all the extra sugar.
21. Don’t drink dessert
Steer clear of drinks like chocolate milkshake, ice kacang in a glass, and any other drink that resembles a dessert. You’ll easily down too much sugar without you realising it.
22. Drink water throughout the day
Since your body is made up of 60% water, it makes sense to keep yourself watered up daily.
23. Drink green tea
It boosts your metabolism while torching your fats. What else do we need to say?
24. Ditch the cocktails
They’re usually high in sugar, colouring, and flavouring. If you need to drink, have a glass of wine or go for hard alcohol like gin, vodka, light rum instead, and use a sugar-free mixer.
25. Drink black coffee instead of a latte
If you’re a true coffee drinker, you don’t need to add on all the extra calories through full-fat milk, sugar, etc. Just go for a cup of black coffee.
26. Do 30 squats before each meal
A squat is a full body exercise that uses the muscles in your thighs, hips, butt which can help you strengthen your bones and muscles as well. Not only can these up your strength, some people claim that they help with weight loss too. We’re not too sure, but it doesn’t hurt to fit in 90 squats everyday!
27. Plan your workouts for the morning
This way, you get it out of the way before everything else, and will have no excuses for having no time for it.
28. Make gym time TV time
Download your favourite shows onto your phone / tablet and watch them over the treadmill, cross-trainer, or anywhere you can prop your screen. This kills two birds with one stone – you spend less time on the couch and exercise won’t be so monotonous and boring.
29. Work on active chores
Mopping the floor, washing the toilets, polishing the windows. Whatever it is, make sure you’re constantly walking around. Cleaning your windows for 30 mins burns 125 calories, that’s the same as a 20-min power yoga session.
30. Take the stairs instead of the elevator when you can
A study conducted by Swiss researchers forced its participants to only use the stairs at work for 3 months. The results? A drop in body fat, waistlines and blood pressure. This translates to a 15% reduction in chances of dying young.
31. Get an exercise buddy so you stay motivated
Better to get a naggy one as well, so they nag at you whenever you don’t turn up for a workout.
32. Mix up your exercises
If you’re always only doing one type of exercise, for example, running, you’re going to get bored. Also, you’ll only be training one specific group of muscles. Introduce different exercises into your regime so you get to train up.
33. Always include both weight training and cardio
While cardio torches a lot of calories, weight training continues burning those calories even after you’ve stopped training. Best of all? You’ll be strengthening those bones against osteoporosis.
34. Find something you enjoy
You won’t continue exercising if you hate it every time you do it. Find something you like, such as badminton or swimming, or even dancing salsa, as long as you’re moving your body. Try the HealthWorks’ fitness personality flowchart to find what suits you!
35. Brisk walk instead of slow walk
New research found that walkers who moved faster were less likely to die prematurely.
36. Exercise to free YouTube workout videos
Remember our earlier advice about varying your workouts? Use YouTube for inspiration! It’s filled to the brim with full workout videos that you can follow to in the comfort of your home.
37. Meet your friend for a walk instead of a meal
As Malaysians, we love meeting over a meal, and end up sitting for hours chit-chatting about everything and having three servings of dessert. Instead of that, why not go for a walk for some fresh air and also burn some calories?
36. Always warm up and cool down
Warming up eases your body into your workout, while cooling down helps return your heart rate to normal and stretch your muscles so you don’t feel all crampy the next day.
38. Stay ahead of deadlines
Always schedule your completion time about 10-20% ahead of your deadline, so you’re less stressed out if anything goes wrong.
39. It’s not all or nothing
You don’t have to churn out a perfect proposal the first time round. Rough draft first then refine and refine. You’ll find that you’re less stressed out and complete better work too!
Categorise your commitments based on importance instead of dropping everything to check the latest emails etc. Here’s a free online tool that can help you: KanbanFlow.
41. Stop being such a perfectionist
Nobody and nothing is perfect. Be realistic about what can be accomplished and work hard to attain that, but don’t seek perfection as it just creates needless stress.
42. Stop procrastinating
You’ll only stress yourself out if you keep putting off the things you need to do. If you need to take little breaks, focus on work and only work for 25 minutes before taking a 5-minute break. This technique is called the Pomodoro technique. Here’s a pomodoro timer for you!
43. Observe the 20-20-20 rule
If your job requires you to stare at a screen all day, your eyes can get very tired. Every 20 minutes, move your eyes away from your screen and look at something 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds, which can do wonders for your eye strain.
44. Take breaks
Go for a walk at lunch and go chat with a colleague during the middle of the day. Sometimes leaving your desk can be a good thing, both for you and your productivity.
45. Create a sleep ritual
Instead of watching TV or Facebooking away, cultivate a ritual the reminds your body you’re about to drift off to dreamland. It could be a simple cup of chamomile tea followed by a 5-min meditation, or simple just closing your eyes and propping onto bed with some soothing music.
46. Turn off the lights earlier
Darkness increases natural melatonin production which stimulates sleep. By turning off your lights half and hour to an hour earlier, you’re signaling your body that it’s time to ZZZ.
47. You snooze, you lose
This one isn’t as easy to do, since the snooze button is an incredibly lucrative button to click. The problem with snooze buttons is that each time we go back to sleep after being woken by our alarm, we’re restarting our sleep cycle, which makes it even harder to wake up later. Hitting the snooze button will also cause you to be less alert and productive later in the day. Instead, go to sleep earlier instead of pressing the snooze button 15 times in the morning.
48. Take a 20-min afternoon nap
Science says it revives your energy and is actually good for you, mentally speaking.
49. No screens in bed at least 30 minutes before sleeping
The lights stimulate your brain to think it’s still daytime and causes it to be alert when you should be winding down to sleep.
50. Try the drop-nap when you’re tired
Hold something in your hand that will make a sound when it falls onto the ground. As you fall asleep the sound will wake you up and you’ll have a burst of energy. Try with keys or a spoon.
51. Have me-time
Your jam-packed calendar leaves little time for just you. Work, then meetings with friends, or grocery shopping for the family, then laundry and everything else saps away quality time with me, myself, and I. Schedule half an hour for yourself everyday, just to totally unwind. It can be something as simple as having a cup of coffee on your porch, just watching the leaves rustle, or running yourself a bath with soothing music, or hanging out with your cat.
52. Talk about your feelings
Find someone you can talk to and share your thoughts. Those who bottle everything up will eventually explode.
53. Connect with people
Humans are emotional beings, and while it’s tempting to shut yourself in your room watching a sitcom, it’s good to spend some time developing relationships with people we care about. It helps give us the feeling of security and inclusivity, which is good for our well-being.
54. Take a break
Plan for some time away from the daily grind so you can recharge. It can be a weekend at a nearby beach, or a two-week vacation across Europe. Always make time for a break from the daily grind so you can revive your energy.
55. Find ways to deal with your stress
Everyone is stressed, but those who succeed are those who have learned how to turn their stress into something productive. Get some ideas here.
56. Credit yourself
Never put yourself down when you’ve done something good. We are always the hardest on ourselves, but should learn to cut ourselves some slack.
57. Be positive
Instead of thinking “Urgh… stuck in a jam again”, try thinking “hey! More time for me to listen to my audio book / favourite song / call my mom (on handsfree), or even “at least I’m stuck in a car, not in the rain”. This will help you become happier and more thankful in the long run.
58. Set realistic goals
Having an aim is important for growth, but if you’re only setting unrealistic goals, you’re causing yourself needless worry and stress. And most importantly, realise that you’ll need to put in a lot of effort in order to attain your goals. You’re not going to get there in one day.
59. Be thankful
People who exercise gratitude are healthier compared to their grouchy peers who whine a lot. Don’t believe us? See this study here.
60. Smile more
Smiling releases endorphins (the happy hormones), and everybody looks beautiful when smiling. Need we say more?
61. Give your partner space
While it’s tempting to want to spend every waking minute together (especially early in the relationship), don’t. Give her time alone to read her favourite book. Let hiim play his video games without any nagging. Spending time apart doing your personal things will help you grow individually, which in turn will help the relationship as well.
62. Talk, not shout, about problems
Everyone expresses anger in different ways, but shouting will probably just lead to more anger. Try to calm down and look at the issue objectively and work together for a solution.
63. Have time together, as well as with your friends
It’s easy for new couples to ditch their friends when they first get into a relationship, but it’s also important to maintain your social circle. They are the ones who were there before, and who will continue being there even if you break up.
64. Develop your own interests
You might want to have 101 similarities with your significant other, but that’s not necessary. Having your own interests and beliefs make you a more well-rounded individual, so spend some time exploring who you really are instead of losing yourself to the relationship. With that said, it’s healthy to learn about your partner’s interests, since they’re a big part of who he is too.
65. When you are in a heated fight, try to look on the funny side
Most of the time you’re fighting over something small and it is very comical if you look at the fight from the outside. Cracking a joke can help bring things back in perspective.
66. Share a hug everyday
Humans love touch.
67. Do something nice for him / her for no reason at all
Valentine’s Day isn’t the only day to be showing your love to your sweetheart. Surprises that come without reason will be much more appreciated. After all, it’s the day-to-day relationship that counts.
68. Go on a trip together
Travelling somewhere together is perhaps one of the best ways to get to know someone better. Things that don’t occur during day-to-day life can happen in a trip. See how he / she reacts to a jellyfish sting, or a lost camera, or having to walk 20km a day. The experiences while travelling together will also bring you closer to each other.
69. Don’t keep score
You know how we’re fans of dragging out the past in a new argument? “But you were late for my birthday dinner 2 years ago!” “I remember you forgot to water my plant when I went on a trip last year as well!” etc. Learn to forgive and truly forget, so you can continue creating new memories instead of dredging up the old.
70. Say sorry
When you’re wrong, admit it and apologise, hard as it is to do.
71. Compliment each other
Everyone likes feeling good. When your significant other is looking good, tell them they look good. When they’re doing well at work, school, or anything else, tell them you’re proud of them. You never know how much good a kind word could do.
72. Be nice to his / her family
Whether you like them or find them boring, they’re here to stay. They are the ones who gave him / her life and moulded your loved one to who he / she is today. Just as you treat your significant other nicely, you should treat his / her family well too.
73. Do something different once in a while
Monotony kills romance. Check out these 10 refreshing date ideas!
74. Stop being selfish
Stop thinking about what he/she can do for you, and start thinking about what you can do for him/her instead!
75. Say thank you
All the invisible people around you deservesome gratitude, so smile and say thank you to your waiter, salesperson, cashier, toilet cleaner etc.
76. Decline plastic bags
Don’t contribute to the landfill, bring an extra bag when shopping.
There are many people who need help and you can lend a helping hand.
78. Don’t text and drive
At best you’re creating a traffic jam as you’re probably driving slower while texting. At worst, you’re going to kill someone. Stop.
79. Listen to your friends, not just talk about yourself.
You probably have an interesting story to tell, but your friends do too! Everyone deserves to be heard.
80. Don’t FFK (cancel plans on) people
When you’ve made an appointment, stick to it as others have reserved the time for you.
81. Let your loved ones know you love them
Life is short and fleeting, and it’s better to always let people know they’re in your heart before it’s too late.
82. Don’t ditch your friends when you get into a relationship
They were there for you when you were single, why shouldn’t you be there for them just because you’ve found someone?
83. Hold the door for the person behind you
Instead of leaving it to slam into their face.
84. Queue up
Whether at the grocery store or on the road, everyone’s time is just as valuable as yours.
85. Try not to judge
Nobody knows everything and has all the right answers. People have a reason behind their doings, beliefs, and choices.
86. Keep on learning
There’s a world of new ideas, new methods, and new things to learn. Give yourself a breath of life by learning something new every once in a while. Become a lifelong learner.
87. Expand your horizons
Travel to foreign lands and not just focus your attention on shopping, restaurants and hotels. Talk to the locals, open your eyes to different ways of life and absorb the different culture. Seeing how other people live life can help you become more open-minded.
88. Stop checking your phone at meals
When you’re dining with your mates or your family, leave your phone in your pocket / bag, and spend time talking to them instead.
89. Register yourself as an organ donor
When you’ve passed on, your organs could go on to save up to 8 lives. Why not leave a legacy behind? Learn how you can sign up here.
90. Wash your hands before eating, and after going to the bathroom
You don’t want to give yourself food poisoning.
91. Use insect repellent at high-risk areas
The dangers of dengue and malaria are very real. Cover up and apply insect repellant to keep yourself from getting ill.
92. Slather on the sunscreen
UV damage can lead to skin cancer, and you don’t want that.
93. Quit smoking
Stop killing yourself and those around you. Check out what campaigns shout about smoking here.
94. Don’t hold your pee (or poo)
It’s important that you adhere to your body’s need to go so you don’t get any nasty infections. Take time to observe your pee too.
95. Get out in the sun everyday
Not too long otherwise you’ll get a sunburn, but 15 minutes of sunlight a day can fill up your vitamin D quota.
96. Wash your fruits and veggies thoroughly
This helps get rid of any insecticide residue as well as dirt.
97. Avoid second-hand smoke
Don’t hang out at places where you’re exposed to the smoke of others. Why up your chances of dying from lung cancer?
98. See a dentist at least once a year
Make sure those pearly whites of yours stay intact and pearly white.
99. Check out your moles
See if they’re any different or weird looking. If your mole has morphed, it could be a sign of skin cancer. Use this chart here.
100. Keep reading HealthWorks.my
Because you know we’re here for you.
We’d love to learn more daily healthy living tips! Share yours with us in the comments below or on our Facebook page!