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7 Healthy Habit Swaps To Make In 2016

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    This article was originally published on December 26, 2015.

    Listen — we’re all busy people. Between friendships, relationships, work or school, and the already commendable efforts we put into being healthy, who has time to add resolution-related to-dos to the list? Of course, if you’ve been looking for an opportunity to make a big, sweeping health change, 2016 seems like a great time to give it a go. We won’t stop you. New Year’s resolutions exist for a reason.

    But if you’re the type who generally eats well, exercises, and lives a healthy life, we’ve got a new idea. Instead of adding an audacious goal you may or may not achieve, why not just make small tweaks to improve the healthy habits that are already a part of your life? Zero extra time — tons of extra gains. (Or #gainz, if you’re of that mind.)

    We asked trainers, nutrition experts, and doctors for ways to upgrade your choices. Click ahead to learn how to take your good habits up a notch and make them great.

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    Good: Lift heavy weights.
    Single-arm rows, tricep kickbacks, bench presses — you’re a master of these moves at the gym, and congratulations are in order. "When women lift heavy weights and challenge their bodies," it's great for the way they look and feel, says Jennifer Blackburn, the group fitness manager at Equinox in Bethesda, MD. We're talking less pain, better mood, and even a lower risk down the line for conditions like osteoporosis and type 2 diabetes.

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    Great: Incorporate core-focused body-weight moves.
    That iron you're pumping is worth even more if you have a strong core to support you and you're doing everything as effectively as possible. This year, try adding more body-weight movements. “Your core is the mothership for everything that you do,” says trainer Natalie Uhling, founder of NUFit. “It supports the spine, protects the low back, and helps with posture. So if you have a strong midsection, you're able to support your entire body.”

    Uhling recommends the Lemon Squeezer: Start on your sit bones with your upper body leaning slightly back, hands resting on the mat behind you for support, and knees bent with shins parallel to the floor. Inhale, and then on an exhale, extend your legs and lower them toward the floor as you lower your torso toward the floor. “It’s hard!” she says. But when you’re working with only your body weight, it’s easier to focus on your form. “Quality over quantity,” she says. “Every time.”

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    Good: Have a smoothie bowl for breakfast.
    Starting your day with a gem-toned smoothie bowl? Amazing! The uber-popular breakfasts are filling, full of fiber, and rich in vitamins and antioxidants thanks to the variety of fruits (berries especially) that make up the Instagram-worthy concoctions. They’re great pre-workout fuel as well, since they’re not too heavy, and won’t weigh you down before the gym.

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    Great: Add green veggies to your smoothie bowl.
    Throw in some vegetables to make breakfast even better. “A lot of the recipes I see are just fruit,” says Wendy Lopez, MS, RD, one of the cofounders of Food Heaven Made Easy, an online platform for nutrition advice. “They’re very high in sugar, and not very balanced.” But adding two cups of dark, leafy greens like spinach or kale for every one cup of fruit will even out the blood sugar spike caused by sugary smoothies, and add essential nutrients like iron and vitamin A. “You really cannot taste spinach!” says Jones. And adding protein — Lopez likes Greek yogurt or silken tofu — fuels muscles and keeps them strong.

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    Good: Work your pelvic floor daily.
    Ever since that Sex and the City episode, you’ve followed Samantha’s advice to “tighten and release” your pelvic floor muscles for 10 minutes a day. So you already know there are plenty of benefits to doing Kegel exercises — from delivering stronger orgasms to strengthening your vagina post-baby.