15 Self-Improvement Tips for a Successful September

15 Self-Improvement Tips for a Successful September

September is all about new beginnings. It’s a new season and many people begin new routines that will carry them through the rest of the year. Plus, September has been officially designated as Self-Improvement Month. We can’t think of a better time to start anew and better yourself! It’s time to think of every day as an opportunity to take simple steps that will help you look, feel and live better. To get you started, we”;ve gathered this list of hints that you can use to build a happier and healthier you this September.

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Here are 15 self-improvement tips for a successful September:
1. Reset your habits.

September

We make lots of choices every day. However, we also do many things without thinking, simply because they”;ve become habits. The good news is that not all habits are harmful. There are many healthy habits that can turn your September into a successful start to a new season. Even better, research shows that it can take as little as 66 days to build a new habit that”;s good for you, says University College London. This can include drinking more water, starting a new exercise routine, getting more sleep or even cutting down on screen time.

Not sure where to start? Check out these 10 workday habits of healthy people! >

2. Practice positivity.

September

You have more control of your inner dialogue than you realize. By making a concentrated effort to think positive thoughts, you can improve your mood and your health. “;People with a family history of heart disease who also had a positive outlook were one-third less likely to have a heart attack or other cardiovascular event within five to 25 years than those with a more negative outlook,”; says Johns Hopkins Medicine. They also explain that smiling reduces heart rate and blood pressure during stressful situations, even if it’s a fake smile. You really can fake it ’til you make it!

3. Give yourself goals.

September

Every achievement, big or small, starts with a goal. The goals you are most likely to reach are specific and attainable. Simply saying you want to lose weight or stay in touch with old friends, for example, makes it easy to keep putting those things off. Instead, define your goals as “;fitting into my favorite dress for a wedding”; or “;calling one friend every week.”; Click the link below for tips on writing your own goals!

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4. Accept setbacks.

September

No matter how motivated and focused we are, sometimes forces beyond our control prevent us from reaching our goals. Too often, that makes us feel like giving up, as if we”;ll never succeed. However, progress rarely goes in a straight line. Sometimes we need to remind ourselves that even when we go two steps forward and one step back, we have moved closer to our goal.

5. Try mentoring.

September

People with experience in careers, parenting and life skills have invaluable knowledge to share with those just starting out. Mentoring can be rewarding for both sides–;mature people get to pass along their well-earned wisdom and younger folks get help in overcoming obstacles. Plus, when one teaches, two learn! Check out The National Mentoring Partnership: They have a “;connector”; database that matches mentors with people who want to be mentored.

6. Widen your circle.

September

If you have a few close friends, you are fortunate. However, regular contact with a broader range of people is also good for your mental health as you get older. According to research, published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, “;The midlife wellbeing of both men and women seems to depend on having a wide circle of friends whom they see regularly,”; says ScienceDaily.

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7. Make time to read.

reading

We all spend more time than ever looking at the screens of electronics. It’s time to put down your smart phone and pick up a good old book! Taking time to read books helps both our bodies and our minds: Research shows that reading can reduce stress levels by up to 68 percent, says the University of Minnesota. Whether you enjoy inspirational self-help, biographies or fantasy fiction, there’s a book out there for everyone. Audio books are also a great option when you”;re on the go! Listen to them on your commute, your daily jog or while you’re cooking up a healthy meal.

8. Try new apps.

new apps

Our phones and tablets bring the world to our fingertips and can make our lives easier. You can try apps that help you work on your memory skills, learn new vocabulary, pursue creative ideas, manage your finances, try new workouts and so much more. Want to lose weight this September? Check out the FREE NuMi app from Nutrisystem, available for both Apple and Android devices! It’s the ultimate app for weight loss because it makes it easy for you to track your progress and provides daily information and inspiration. Learn more here! >

9. Learn a second language.

September

Being able to speak two languages not only allows us to communicate with a wider variety of people but it”;s also good for our brains. According to Annual Review of Linguistics, “research in recent decades has demonstrated that experience with two (or more) languages confers a bilingual advantage in executive functions and may delay the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease.” You can learn a new language using one of the many online courses or apps. Solidify your skills by practicing with native speakers whenever possible.

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10. Fix your posture.

September

Sitting all day and staring at a screen can cause poor posture. This can damage your spine, cause neck and back pain, decrease flexibility and impact breathing, says MedlinePlus. You can avoid these problems by bearing in mind the basics of good posture throughout the day: Harvard Health Publishing recommends keeping your chin parallel to the floor and your shoulders even. You should have a “neutral spine” with your arms at your sides. Be sure to keep your hips level, knees and feet pointing forward and your body weight distributed evenly. Run down that list when you”;re sitting and standing to re-balance yourself and prevent the slumping that pushes us out of alignment.

11. Meditate daily.

September

Taking a little time each day to clear your mind of your daily cares and concerns can help you enjoy a stress-free September. According to Mayo Clinic, meditation has been shown to decrease the symptoms of high-blood pressure, chronic pain, anxiety, headaches, sleep problems and more. You can find many apps and online videos to help you get started. However, the basics are simple: sit in a comfortable position in a location that”;s free from distractions. Focus on the rhythm of your breathing and let any thoughts or worries that enter your mind drift away. All you need is 10 minutes to get the benefits of this little break from the rush of daily life.

12. Cook often.

healthy cooking

When you prepare your own food, you pay attention to the ingredients and can avoid unhealthy additives like salt and sweeteners. If you don”;t have much experience cooking, start off simple and practice your skills before you take on more elaborate dishes. Don”;t know where to begin? Check out The Leaf Weight Loss Blog for thousands of easy and delicious recipes that fit into your healthy diet! You can also pick up a copy of the book How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman. It covers all the basics and shares the little tips and secrets that great home cooks learn after years in the kitchen.

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13. Sleep more.

sleep

You might not think of sleeping as a way to improve your life. However, so many of us are chronically tired that it actually harms our mental and physical health. Lack of sleep even increases our chances of overeating and makes it harder for us to lose excess weight, says Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care. Try your best to stick to a regular bedtime and wake-up schedule. If you find yourself tired in the middle of the day, taking a 20-minute nap can refresh you without disrupting your night-time sleep.

Learn more about the importance of getting good sleep! >

14. Lose weight.

weight loss

According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, being overweight or obese can lead to a wide range of health concerns, such as diabetes and heart disease. Losing the excess weight can reduce your risk of these problems, as well as promote positive feelings, a sense of accomplishment and better self-image. To help you reach a healthy weight, consider trying a convenient meal delivery service that fits into your new September schedule. The all-new Nutrisystem program provides you with a personalized weight loss experience and perfectly portioned meals delivered to your door. You take a quiz and we provide you with a plan that’s tailored to you. Click here to learn more! >

15. Be grateful, be happy.

September

Simply being thankful for the most basic things that we have in our lives–;food and shelter, health and safety, family and friends–;improves our sense of well-being. Practicing gratitude is associated with “greater life satisfaction,” according to research, published in the medical journal Psychiatry. What better way to improve ourselves this September than to be happier about all the good things we have? Try starting a gratitude journal and reflect on what you’re thankful for throughout the month. It’s a great way to start your day with a positive mind.

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The post 15 Self-Improvement Tips for a Successful September appeared first on The Leaf.

Read more: leaf.nutrisystem.com

6 Foods You Should Never Eat Before Bed

6 Foods You Should Never Eat Before Bed

A good night”;s sleep is just as important as a good diet and home exercise plan to help you lose weight. Many studies have found a link between lack of sleep and weight gain. One big reason: Your hormones–;specifically the ones that regulate hunger. One study, for example, found that sleep-deprived people had higher levels of the appetite-boosting hormone ghrelin and lower levels of leptin, the hormone that tells you when you”;re full. You know what happens when those two are out of balance.

Another reason: When you”;re tired, your energy levels are likely to make the couch–;and not the walking trail–;look like the perfect place to be. In fact, a 2008 review study in the journal Obesity found that sleep-deprived people spent more time watching TV than doing something active.

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Most sleep experts recommend that you maintain a consistent sleep routine: Go to bed and get up at the same time every day, even on the weekends; exercise regularly; get a good dose of sunshine (to set your internal clock); keep it low-key before you hit the hay, and avoid foods and beverages that can interfere with your eight hours.

Here are six foods you should never eat before bed:
1. Anything with Caffeine

You know tea and coffee have this pick-me-up ingredient that can keep you awake at night, but did you know that chocolate and colas do, too? There are a few more sources that might surprise you that should be avoided before bed. For example, some non-cola sodas also have caffeine. One citrus-flavored brand has 41 milligrams per serving–;about half the caffeine in a cup of coffee. Energy bars and drinks often rely on caffeine for their boost. And watch out for ice cream and yogurt, particularly those with coffee, mocha or “;java,”; which is just another word for coffee.

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2. Alcohol

A glass or two of wine may help you fall asleep, but it won”;t be restful. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, studies have consistently shown that having a drink or two within an hour of bedtime increases wakefulness during the second–;and most important–;half of the sleep cycle. You”;re likely to wake up and not be able to get back to sleep readily, leaving you exhausted (and hungry) the next day. Although that glass might seem like a relaxing way to unwind, keep in mind why it should be avoided before bed.

3. Fatty Foods

There are three big reasons not to indulge in greasy burgers, fries, and full-fat ice cream during the day. You can guess the first–;they”;re unhealthy and fattening. But the other two relate to sleep. If you have acid reflux or even just suffer from occasional heartburn, fatty meals can wake you–;painfully–;many times a night. Fatty foods are harder to digest, so they”;re in your digestive system longer, requiring more acid to break them down. Plus, they can contribute to weight gain by hurting your healthy diet and interfering with your sleep. Studies suggest that a high fat diet may decrease your sensitivity to orexin, a chemical that regulates the sleep-wake cycle. Rats on a high fat menu stopped responding effectively to orexin, decreased their physical activity, and gained weight. Add these foods to your list of things to avoid before bed for a better night”;s rest.

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4. Spicy Foods

Of course, we all know that spicy foods can lead to indigestion and that can keep us up at night. But that”;s only one way that evening enchilada can interfere with our ZZZs. One small study found that a spicy meal (the researchers doused it with Tabasco sauce and mustard) kept their subjects up at night possibly because it increased their body temperatures. A night-time drop in body temperature is suspected to be an essential trigger for sleep.

5. Citrus Fruits

Not only does the acid in citrus trigger heartburn, aromatherapists use the essential oils of citrus fruits as an energizer–;not something you want right before bed.

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6. A Big Drink of Anything

Drinking even one glass of water before bed can get you up once–;or more frequently–;to urinate at night. But make sure you”;re well hydrated during the day otherwise what might wake you up is a painful nighttime leg cramp, usually in the calf or feet, caused by dehydration. While hydration is beneficial, avoiding over drinking before bed can help ensure a better night”;s sleep.

Looking for healthy late-night snack idea? Try these Late Night Chicken Taquitos! > Then check out these Five Things To Do Tonight To Lose Weight Tomorrow and learn to Sleep Better Tonight To Lose Weight Tomorrow. Two excellent articles to help you learn how to lose fat.

The post 6 Foods You Should Never Eat Before Bed appeared first on The Leaf.

Read more: leaf.nutrisystem.com

Boost Weight Loss and Improve Sleep with this Before-Bed Workout Routine

Boost Weight Loss and Improve Sleep with this Before-Bed Workout Routine

What”;s the best time to exercise? When you can fit it in–;even if that”;s right before bed. You may have heard that exercising at night can make it harder to fall asleep, but that claim doesn”;t add up: According to the National Sleep Foundation, a study of 1,000 people found that there were no significant differences in sleep quality between people who exercised within four hours of going to sleep versus those who had worked out earlier in the day.

No matter what time of day you exercise, you”;ll likely sleep better: In the National Sleep Foundation study, 83 percent of “;vigorous exercisers”; got “;very good”; or “;fairly good”; quality of sleep, compared to just 56 percent of non-exercisers. And working out before bed could actually improve your sleep quality further: In a review of 23 different studies, published in Sports Medicine, people who exercised within four hours of bedtime had more hours of deep sleep than those who didn”;t do those workouts, says RunnersWorld.com.

Getting quality sleep is a big deal to your risk of early death, risk of disease and also your weight loss efforts. When you sleep less, you eat more…; and not quality, nutrient dense foods. One study, published in Clinical Nutritional and Metabolism Care, found that when people got fewer than seven hours of sleep, their daily calorie intake increased by 14 percent, with most of those extra calories coming from high-carbohydrate foods.

Burn more calories with a before bed workout and get better sleep to control your appetite. Our fitness experts at The Leaf have created this quick workout before bed to help you on your wellness and weight loss journey! Just remember to give yourself a one-hour break after the exercise. This will help your body cool down and prepare for slumber–;just as you would after a warm bath.

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Get started with some strength training.

Strength training at any time of the day improves your sleep. However, a before-bed strength session can mean you”;ll sleep more soundly, waking up less frequently during the night. Of course, it can also help with your weight loss goals: According to The Harvard Gazette, scientists found that men who performed 20 minutes of “daily weight training” experienced less age-related belly fat gains than those who did the same amount of cardio work.

This short before bed workout is lower intensity, so you won”;t get too amped up–;or too sweaty–;in the hours before bed. Perform all sets of each exercise before moving to the next exercise. Rest for one minute between each exercise and set.

Exercise 1: Squat to Chair (or Bed)

squat exercise

Stand with your feet hip-width apart, toes pointed slightly out from parallel. Push your hips back to initiate the squat, controlling your descent as you bend your knees to descend until you sit in the chair. As you descend, keep your chest up and your weight on your heels. Keep the weight of your body in your heels and press back to standing without using your hands. If this is too hard, perform only the lowering portion of the squat–;sitting down–;then use your hands to stand back up and repeat. Perform four sets of five repetitions each. Over time, try to increase the repetitions.

Exercise 2: Elevated Push-up

The Leaf working out before bed for improved wellness

Place your hands on the seat of chair or on the fourth step of a staircase. Assume the classic push-up position: Arms perpendicular to your torso, your body forming a straight line from head to heels. Maintaining this rigid body line, bend your elbows to lower your chest towards the seat. To protect your shoulders from pain and injury, keep your elbows relatively tight to your sides rather than flaring them out at a 90-degree angle. Press back to start. If this is too hard, try a wall push-up instead. Perform four sets of four or more repetitions each.

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Exercise 3: Supine Glute Bridge

The Leaf working out before bed for improved wellness

Lie face-up on a mat with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Place your arms at your sides, palms up. Keeping your feet flat on the floor, squeeze your glutes to raise your hips forcefully off the floor until your body forms a straight line from your knees to your shoulders. As you”;re lifting, keep your knees and thighs parallel–;don”;t let them pull together. This will engage your hip musculature. Pause for a second at the top of the exercise, then slowly return to the start position. As you”;re raising up, don”;t let your heels come off the floor. Perform four sets of five repetitions each. Over time, try to increase the number of repetitions in each set.

Exercise 4: Wall Stick Up

The Leaf working out before bed for improved wellness

Stand facing away from a wall, with your feet about six inches away from the wall. Your head, upper back and butt should all be in contact with the wall–;and they should stay in contact with it throughout the exercise. Put your arms straight up overhead, with the backs of your hands, elbows and forearms in contact with the wall. Now slide your arms down the wall by bending your elbows, keeping your hands, forearms and shoulders in contact with the wall. Keep lowering until your elbows come as close as you can bring them to your sides. (You should feel a strong contraction between your shoulder blades.) Pause, then slide your arms back up the wall until your arms are overhead. Perform four sets of five repetitions each. Over time, try to increase the number of repetitions in each set, aiming for eight repetitions.

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Finish up with some calming stretches in bed.

When people with insomnia do yoga, they become more likely to fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer, says The National Sleep Foundation. Calm your own body down with this six-pack of restorative stretches after your strength workout, and help put yourself on the path to dreamland. Sit on the edge of the bed for the first three stretches, then lie on the bed for the last three.

Stretch 1: Circle Your Ankles

The Leaf working out before bed for improved wellness

Sit on the edge of the bed with both feet on the ground. Lift one foot off the floor and circle your ankle 10 to 15 times in each direction. Repeat with the other foot.

Stretch 2: Lift Your Heels

night stretches

Place both feet back on the floor. Press the balls of both feet into the floor and lift your heels off the ground, stretching the midfoot. Perform 10 to 15 lifts.

Stretch 3: Stretch Your Side

The Leaf working out before bed for improved wellness

Sit up tall. Place your right hand on the bed by your side and lift your left arm to the ceiling. Arc the left arm up and over the head until you feel a slight stretch in your side. Reverse the movement to the starting position. Repeat six to eight times per side.

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Stretch 4: Rock with Your Knees at Your Chest

The Leaf working out before bed for improved wellness

Lie on your back on the bed. Bring your knees towards your chest, and grab your legs just below your knees. Rock back and forth gently a few times.

Stretch 5: Single Knee to Chest

stretches

Still on your back, straighten your legs. Now bring just one knee up to your chest while the other remains outstretched on the bed. Hug the lifted knee to your chest, then switch legs. Hug each knee three times.

Stretch 6: Lying Arm Circles

The Leaf working out before bed for improved wellness

Let your legs go straight again on the bed. Spread your arms out so your body forms a “;T”; shape. Keeping your arms straight, perform 10 arm circles forward, then 10 back. Repeat one more time.

Learn more helpful sleep tips and fitness routines from our wellness experts at the Leaf! We”;re here to help you achieve your wellness goals along your weight loss journey.

Pair your workout routine with a healthy meal delivery service! Learn more about the Nutrisystem program >

*Always speak with your doctor before starting an exercise routine.

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The post Boost Weight Loss and Improve Sleep with this Before-Bed Workout Routine appeared first on The Leaf.

Read more: leaf.nutrisystem.com

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