As the New Year kicks into gear, we know just how easy it is to fall short on your resolutions, especially those related to health and fitness. Read on for five tips to keep healthy and help you to better invest in yourself this year.
1. Set specific goals around your health. Would you like to run a 5K? Complete that Ironman? Feel stronger and have increased energy? Okay, I’ll say it, drop the 15 pounds that your doctor recommended? All goals are good goals, and they are incredibly personal depending on what you’d like to accomplish or achieve.
BUT, often times the best goals are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely). Even better, to help keep you on track and internally motivated, those goals should tie into your personal values.
2. Have a plan each day for how you will work towards those goals. For many of us, health goals are related to nutrition and exercise. So, what’s for lunch tomorrow? The salad you’re about to pack tonight along with a couple of healthy snacks? Or the hot foods bar and its beckoning mac and cheese? Will you workout before work? Great! Pack your bag the night before so you capitalize on the precious time you’ve set aside. Book the items into your calendar that are going to keep you on track with those goals. Here’s one of my favorite posts with tips for fitting in workouts and proper nutrition when time gets tight.
Once you set your goals, it’s also okay (and in many cases a good idea) to ask for help with a plan or professional assistance. If you’ve made it this far, follow through to make sure you are going about reaching your goals in the best way possible.
3. Get enough sleep. Like goals, your personal sleep needs are personal just to you. The medical range for the amount of sleep each one of us needs is between six and ten hours per night. The biggest gauge of how much sleep you need is how you feel during the day without excessive caffeine. Getting enough sleep can impact your other goals like getting in a workout before work. If you are better rested, you’ll be able to get up earlier, and we continue on that cycle of having a plan mentioned above. There is a ton of research out right now about the benefits of adequate sleep. Here are some great tips from a speaker series event at Hyatt Training.
4. Eliminate or reduce processed food consumption as much as possible. When we eat processed foods, our bodies need to work harder to break down nutrients. Often times, this extra work is a result of having to digest ingredients that aren’t even food or nutritionally necessary. Things like food coloring (red dye #40 anyone?), extra sugar, stabilizers and preservatives are simply unnecessary to put in our body.
Think of it like this: If you had a fancy sports car would you put sand in the tank when you filled up with gas? Or simply buy the cleanest gas possible to keep the engine running smoothly? Your body is no different. The age-old adage, you are what you eat, is true. Treat yourself like a Porsche and do not put sand in your tank! Let your body put that extra energy into building a strong immune system, recovering after a workout at the gym or having clearer, less cluttered thinking.
A processed food is defined by me as anything that comes from a wrapper or box. If it is a vegetable, fruit or was made from scratch whole food ingredients by myself (or in the kitchen of someone I know) it gets my stamp of approval.
Modern life happens, so if you have to eat something that comes in a package, look at the ingredient list and strive for as few ingredients as possible. The longer and stranger the ingredient list (by stranger I mean ingredients that don’t sound like food), the more that package should be avoided.
5. Be active throughout the day. Research shows that YES, for optimal health it is recommended for most healthy individuals to strive for 60 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity each day such as a gym workout, or walk or run outside. But it’s also clear that staying active throughout the day is just as important. Your sixty minutes in the gym do not give you carte blanche to sit around all day (be it at your desk or in front of a TV), at least as far as your health is concerned. Here are some ideas to increase daily activity.
By Lee Carson | Lee Carson is the co-owner of Hyatt Training, a personal training studio in Northwest Portland where she teaches yoga and supports her clients’ health and wellness. To learn more about Hyatt Training, their team of personal trainers, or to set up a free consultation to see how they could help you, email Lee at Go@HyattTraining.com.
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