Nine New Things to Try in the New Year

Your resolution: Try new things this year. Here, Philly health-and-fitness experts offer up nine habits you should try to make stick.

Take Your Vitamins
Sometimes, you just don’t get what you need from the food you’re eating. “Take your vitamins if your busy, on-the-go eating habits aren’t providing enough daily nutrients,” says Sweat Fitness aquatics director Holly Waters. She’s made a habit out of taking supplements for B vitamins (help with metabolism function and maintain good skin, hair and muscle tone); vitamin D (helps form and maintain good bone health); and fish oil (helps with heart function and health).

Drink White Tea
If you’ve been following BWP for a while, you know we’re tea enthusiasts over here. Alexis Siemons, a Philly-based tea blogger and consultant, suggests steeping some white tea in 2012. A lighter taste means it’s good for beginners, and it’s the least caffeinated of the tea varieties, so say goodbye to the caffeine crash.

Get Fresh Air
“Go outside!,” says Todd Scott, owner of Platoon Fitness. “We put ourselves in prisons by going from one box to the next: our car to our office to our home to our gym.” Try an outdoor boot camp, running group or just go for a walk. Make a little outdoor time a priority everyday.

Have Some Chocolate
Yup, you read that right—just make sure yours is raw: “Raw chocolate is very versatile and provides amazing health benefits: It’s antioxidant-rich and can even suppress appetite,” says Fusion Cross Training’s nutrition director, Juliet Burgh. “I think it’s particularly great for women who want to eat chocolate and still lose weight.” Too good to be true? Try sprinkling the powder in smoothies or on cereal, or use the nibs for baking. You’ll find it at Whole Foods; learn how to make your own raw chocolates at home here.

Hop on Hemp
Fun fact: Hemp seeds come from the cannabis sativa plant, a cousin of the marijuana plant. But that’s not why Kelly Strogen, the resident dietician at Club La Maison, loves them: like quinoa, hemp seeds are a complete protein, so they’re a great way to get lots of tummy-filling, muscle-building protein without having to gnaw on chicken breasts all day long. The seeds are also packed with omega-3s, a heart-disease-risk reducer. You’ll find them in the bulk bins at Whole Foods and other health-food stores.

Consider Carbs
No, really! Pro runner Phil Clark, who owns the NoLibs gym the Training Station, says athletes and serious workout-aholics often don’t fuel their bodies with enough carbohydrates. “A lot of active people don’t know what it feels like to exercise with the proper amount of carbs in their bodies,” he says. “Once a person does finally feel it, they will likely become a convert.”  Of course, you’ll want to make sure you’re consuming the right kinds of carbs. Rule of thumb: Lay off the fast-burning simple carbohydrates—candy bars, soda—and go for longer-to-digest complex carbs, like legumes, starchy vegetables, and whole-grain bread and cereals.

Go Green (with Smoothies)
“The green smoothie’s a game changer,” says health coach Ali Shapiro. “It will help reduce your caffeine intake, appetite and sugar cravings while increasing your energy and optimism.” Her recipe includes celery, lettuce, avocado, and cilantro, but she suggests new-to-smoothie drinkers add two apples to make it extra sweet. Another tip: Make a large batch at the beginning of the week to save time. Just store extra in airtight glass containers; she loves the bell jars from Rittenhouse Hardware.

Channel Your Inner Camel
Ready for this? Todd Scott encourages clients to drink half their body weight in ounces of water—every single day. So a 150-pound person should drink 75 ounces of water. That’s more than half a gallon of water a day. Hope you have some camel-like reserve tanks.

Skip the Sugar
Jillian Dreusike, a ballerina and founder of the Pilates-meets-barre workout Body Logic, recommends black-listing processed white sugar this year and instead using a natural sweetener like agave nectar. It has about the same calories as sugar, but it’s sweeter so you can get away with using less. Other options: stevia, brown rice syrup and maple syrup.