Are you as sick of New Year’s Resolutions as I am? Every year, we hear the same things: make this the year you get fit; slim down; make healthy lifestyle choices; eat real food.
And by February 1, the gyms are once again quiet and most of us are back on the sofa with a bag of chips wondering how the year went south so fast.
You know it doesn’t have to be that way, right?
A few simple disciplines (yes, there’s that awful word…) and you might just get your feet on the path to a healthy and fit body once and for all.
And wouldn’t it be nice not to be so predictable again this year?
The Top Ten Ways to Get Fit and Healthy…Once and For All
- Start Small
If you run to the kitchen and throw out all the food you love, replacing it with healthier options, you will most likely fail. I’m sorry to say it, but it’s the truth. Instead, you can ensure your successful commitment to healthy eating by slowly making the transition.
Once a week, remove one unhealthy item from your pantry (you know what they are…) and replace it with a healthy item. If you’re faithful, in six months, you will have a new pantry and a new way of eating. And the transition from S.A.D to healthy was painless and delicious.
- Eat Greens
There is no sugar-coating this one. If you want to enjoy good health, you must eat your greens. Kale, collard greens, broccoli, bok choy, watercress, dandelion, arugula, escarole, spinach, chard, whatever dark leafy green you desire…eat them daily, twice a day if you can. Greens provide us with just about every essential nutrient we can imagine we need, including protein (cows eat grass, remember?). They provide us with chlorophyll which results in healthy red blood cells so your body can function at its optimal level.
Sautéed, steamed, boiled, in salads, even juiced, greens have it all.
Oh, just for me…skip the green smoothies…enough with the baby food already. Eat greens.
- Start thinking of yourself as someone who exercises.
I know; I know. Getting off the couch and walking into the gym for the first time (or the first time in years…) is scary and intimidating. Wading through a sea of tattoos and muscles can be quite daunting at first. But do it anyway.
To be successful at getting…and staying fit, you must begin to think of exercise as essential. You would not imagine going through your day without brushing your teeth, right? Exercise must have the same urgency for you.
Commit now and in a few weeks you will not be able to imagine your life without breaking a sweat.
No time? Seriously? Send me your calendar and I will find you the time to exercise.
- Rediscover Reading
Not only will you learn something, but when you read, really dig into books, you might just discover a passion you did not know you had…and if you don’t want to (or can’t) spend a fortune on books, get a library card. That little piece of plastic is the key to vast worlds of knowledge. And I soooooo love the smell of library books, don’t you?
Can you think of anything that makes you feel better than giving of yourself in service to others? We buy stuff we think will satisfy a need or desire deep in our souls, but there always seems to be just a wee tad of disappointment once we hold our newly acquired prized possession.
But give of your time, your heart, your spirit and you are never disappointed. Volunteering allows you to connect with people on a deeply personal level. It opens you to all things human. It completes you.
- Get Out
Feeling lethargic? Out of sorts? Bored? Put on your shoes and take a walk. Studies show that even 5-10 minutes of walking in fresh air relieve stress; increase focus and reduce cravings for sweets. Plus, it will energize you and make you feel refreshed. The added bonus of getting away from your desk for a few minutes will make your day fly by.
So take a walk, regardless of the weather. Get outside every single day.
And I don’t mean on Facebook! While social media is fun and entertaining, there is nothing, nothing quite like sitting across from a friend or loved one and actually…talking. Catching up with each other in person helps you to feel more connected to your human-ness and will help you to feel more contented in your life, more complete.
- Eat breakfast
Your mother was right, at least about this one. Eating breakfast sets the tone for your day. When we wake, our blood sugar level is a bit low so we need to stabilize it to create a balanced energy for our day. So how you begin the day, what you choose to eat will determine the kind of day you will have. Start the day with lots of sugar (and that includes fruit juice…) and you set yourself up for a roller coaster of energy highs and lows as your body struggles to keep its balance. Start the day with heavy animal protein and you will find yourself feeling lethargic before lunch.
The best breakfast? Wait for it…whole grains and vegetables, like dark leafy greens. It may seem weird to you, but trust me. Try it for one week. You’ll have more energy, feel more centered and have the stamina you need for life’s little adventures.
- Drink water
We have all heard it. We are all confused by how much water we should be drinking. In the end, there is no clear answer. How much water we need is determined by our environment, our lifestyle, our diet. We all know that if you are thirsty, you are already a bit dehydrated. We all know that if you have puffy eyes and a ‘washed out’ look, you are drinking too much. We all know that what you think of as hunger is often thirst.
If you eat a plant-based diet, you will need to drink less water as the foods you eat are rich in naturally-occurring moisture and will keep you hydrated. If you eat more animal protein and sugar, you will need to increase your intake of water to accommodate the digestion of those foods. If you are seriously active, you need to replenish what you lose to sweat. If you drink a lot of coffee or soda or commercial tea, you need to drink more water to replenish the dehydrating effects of these beverages.
How much water should you drink? In the end, like everything else, you are the best expert. It’s important to drink regularly, even sips, to ensure you are properly hydrated, but not necessary, as the great George Carlin used to say, to carry around liters of water as though we lived in the Mohave Desert (unless you do, in fact live in the desert).
I can never, ever, ever emphasize the importance of proper sleep. During sleep, our body repairs itself; our digestion rests; our day’s experiences are organized in our own personal database for future reference. Proper sleep allows us to stay on our toes for life’s little adventures. With 60% of us not getting enough sleep, it’s no wonder we feel as we do.
Without proper sleep, our memory fails us; our metabolism is thrown off; our hearts are jeopardized as stress hormones levels are elevated; our moods suffer…and our immune function is suppressed leaving us more susceptible to disease.
Now will you go to bed on time, my loves?
Have a healthy and happy 2013!