Start Your Year on the Right Foot
Every December it seems that we ask the same question. How the heck did this year go by so fast? This year, however, is hitting us a little bit differently. We are ending a decade, and beginning a new one. Many of us are not just reflecting on what has happened in 2019, but also on how much we have changed in the past 10 years. Maybe you graduated college, switched career paths, started a family, became a grandparent, or changed your hair color seven different times. No matter what has happened this year or in the last decade, 2020 is a good way to reflect on previous goals, make new ones, re-evaluate your hopes and needs, and appreciate what you’ve been able to accomplish thus far. One commonality among every single person, no matter what stage of life you are in is health. Creating a healthy lifestyle is one of the top all time New Year’s Resolutions, which is a GREAT, but how does one actually create a SUSTAINABLE healthy lifestyle?
Write down what health/fitness goals you would like to accomplish and make a part of your routine. Make sure to put both your short term and long term goals (e.g. ST- be able to run a mile without stopping ; LT- make 85% of my diet come from nutritious foods) . Determine WHY you want to accomplish these goals and periodically remind yourself of the WHY throughout your journey. Be realistic. One of the easiest ways to fall off the horse is to try the “all or nothing” approach (e.g. I will work out every single day). Usually what happens is you set this goal and the moment you take a day off, it turns into two, then three, then you’ll probably think “well I’ve already slacked off this much, what’s one more day, I’ll start over next week” ̶ which will eventually trail off into quitting all together. Instead of saying “I’m going to work out every day”, make it a priority to exercise at least three times a week (preferably outdoors) and if you want to do more then awesome, but your aim is for at least three times. This makes the goal obtainable and sustainable because you’re likely to not exhaust yourself or get burnt out. This is the same principle as your diet. If you completely cut out all sweets, all carbs, all “junk” food, it will most likely backfire. What are you going to do when you go to a friends’ dinner where they made homemade pizza and brownies? To create a SUSTAINABLE healthy diet, you should embrace moderation. Don’t think that if you eat that one piece, you’ve completely blown your diet. Eat the pizza and brownie. The next day, go back to making the majority of your meals nutritious to fuel your body properly, with the occasional pizza, brownie, or bowl of fruity pebbles. Remember, you are creating a LIFESTYLE, which means we need to learn to, yes, be disciplined, but also be flexible, because life does happen and sometimes you need to skip that work out or eat airport food.
The biggest way to follow through with your goals is to stay consistent. Consistency creates habits and habits make up a lifestyle. Making it a PRIORITY to walk three times a week outdoors is a perfect example. Using apps to track your activity, like the Healthy Parks Healthy Person program or FitBit, are great for monitoring your progress and keeping you accountable. Better yet, strive to bring movement into your life every day (which doesn’t mean a full workout). It can be as simple as choosing to take the stairs, standing instead of sitting at your work desk, or dancing. Everyone has different events and schedules going on in their lives, but if being healthy and active is a priority to you (which it should be for every single person), then you will make time in your day, whether it is for 10 minutes or two hours, every little bit counts. Wake up earlier, watch one less show, take time out of your lunch break, or take 30 minutes from your social media time and take a hike. A great way to stay consistent in your diet is to meal plan. Decide what nutritious meals you want to make and only buy those ingredients, which will also most likely save you money. This will create less stress and help you monitor what your consuming! By doing this, you know what your eating, when you’re eating it, and how much of it you will be eating.
The bottom line is that creating a sustainable, healthy lifestyle is not meant to have an end date. It is a constant journey of learning what works for you and what doesn’t. Not everyone can have the same exact diet or exercise routine, but everyone can have one that is specific to them. The only way for you to be able to stay consistent is to ENJOY what you are doing. If you hate eating salads, then maybe finding a way to add spinach to your diet is to blend it up in a smoothie. If you don’t like going to the gym, find a park and start walking or hiking. If you love watching TV shows, start getting up and moving around during the commercial breaks. Your health should be a priority. With obesity rates continuously rising in all of the Unites States, we need to step back and look at how we are treating our own bodies, our children’s bodies, and everyone else around us. You only get one body, so treat it with respect! Fuel your body right and always make sure to add movement into your life. Take advantage of the New Year and New Decade to make you the healthiest version of yourself! Move more, eat colorfully, and get in nature!