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We’re all for self-improvement, and there’s no better time than the start of a new year to make positive changes.

Life is journey and personal growth is a big part of it.

If you want to improve yourself but aren’t sure where to start, you’re in luck. We’ve listed simple and specific things that you can do to live your best life.

Just remember to be patient with yourself.

The average time it takes for a new habit to stick is 66 days or two months, according to researchers from University College London.

So while huge changes won’t happen overnight, the baby steps you take will make a difference in the long term. Good luck!


To eat healthier, reduce your sugar intake

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Cutting down on sugar is the first step to eating better. Sugar irritates the gut, increases your risk of developing illnesses like type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, and fast-tracks the skin’s ageing process.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends that only five per cent of your total energy intake should be from added sugars.

That’s about 5.5 teaspoons of sugar based on a daily diet of 1,800 calories. Start by cutting out sugary drinks.

A cup of kopi and teh, for instance, has 4.5 teaspoons of sugar each. Ask for less sugar or go for sugar-free options like kopi O kosong or teh O kosong.

Love dessert? Indulge in sweet treats just once a week or choose fruit instead of chocolates and baked goods as they contain naturally occurring sugars and good stuff like vitamins and fibre. The less sugar you eat, the less your body will crave it.


To get fitter, do workouts you love

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Exercise keeps your weight under control, helps you focus better, and boosts your energy levels.

But if you’ve never had a workout routine before, starting one can be difficult.

It doesn’t help that the recommended amount of exercise per week is 150 minutes based on Singapore’s National Physical Activity Guidelines.

That’s A LOT if you haven’t been exercising regularly. Increase your chances of getting fitter by looking for physical activities you’ll enjoy.

Brisk walking, jogging and swimming are all super effective but they can be boring (yawn!).

New-fangled workouts that pack a punch include yoga classes on water with The Fitness Project and trampoline fitness classes at BBounce Studio.

If you’re really time-starved, do high-intensity interval training at places like Ritual Gym, where each class is just 20 minutes long. Look for gyms and studios that offer free trials or discounted rates so that you can shop around till find classes that you love. To help keep yourself accountable, get a workout buddy. If you need help finding one, check out


To feel happier, practise gratitude

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Much of the unhappiness we feel is a result of comparing ourselves with others.

Studies have shown that gratitude reduces social comparisons, so rather than hating on your peers who have more money or better jobs than you, you’ll be able to appreciate them for who they are.

A proven way to practise gratitude is to keep a journal. Writing stuff down helps because it makes our thoughts tangible and deepens their emotional impact.

Follow these journaling tips from American professor and gratitude expert Robert Emmons to reap the full benefits.

He suggests focusing on people rather than things that you’re grateful for, and elaborating on just several points each time you write because quality trumps quantity.

The best part is, you don’t need to write every day. Writing in your journal once or twice a week can induce stronger feelings of gratitude because you won’t become numb to its effects.


To improve your relationship, plan date nights

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Relationships aren’t easy. Once the honeymoon phase is over, it’s only natural to take your partner for granted. Enhance the bond you and your significant other have by planning date nights.

Date nights are important because they help with you communicate with your partner, free from distractions.

Use these four principles by Australian relationship expert Amanda Lambros, which she shared at TEDxPerth 2018, to make your dates nights possible.

The principles are part of an acronym based on the word DATE. D is for diarise – pen the dates into your calendar. A is for action – take turns to plan each date so that there’s an element of surprise for the other person. Use the dates as opportunities to do new things. T is for talk – during the dates, talk to each other about your relationship and what you love about each other.

Talking about work, your kids (if you have any) and logistics are no-nos. E is for excuses – never make excuses to cancel your dates.