2021 is coming to an end and it seems like it has just flown by. I mean it has literally flown by and we have not even had a chance to take it all in. It has been an incredibly challenging year for many. Whether you have gone back to work in person or stayed virtual, we have been living a time of great challenges. In years past, when we have gotten to the end of the year, we have talked about setting new goals for the new year. We have typically talked about getting healthier, working out, eating better, and just overall trying to be more mindful of taking better care of our lives.
One of the first things we can do to start that journey of starting the year healthier is to take have a plan of action. Start with baby steps like walking around your block at least once every day. Walking for just minutes every day can increase cardiovascular fitness, strengthen bones, reduce excess body fat, and boost muscle power and endurance. According to the Harvard Medical School, there are 5 key benefits to walking every day.
- It counteracts the effects of weight-promoting genes.
- It helps tame a sweet tooth.
- It reduces the risk of developing breast cancer.
- It eases joint pain.
- It boosts immune function.
This last one is especially important during these days.
“Walking can help protect you during cold and flu season. A study of over 1,000 men and women found that those who walked at least 20 minutes a day, at least 5 days a week, had 43% fewer sick days than those who exercised once a week or less. And if they did get sick, it was for a shorter duration, and their symptoms were milder.”
For me, walking has the added bonus of giving me some quiet time to myself. I use it as a time to decompress after a long day at work or if I go walking in the morning, it helps me prepare myself for the day ahead.
Of course, walking every day plus eating healthier will yield great results faster. I’ve found that trying to commit to a specific diet is such a big challenge that I end up quitting before too long. What I’ve found that works better for me is to be mindful of how much sugar, how many sweets, and how much fried food I’m eating. Portion control has been great because I’ll serve myself enough food without overdoing it, or if I’m out at a restaurant, not ordering so much food that I end up taking it home to put in the fridge.
Snacks throughout the day are also a key part of making sure I don’t get to lunch or dinner and just pig out.
“When deciding on a snack, choose options that are full of nutrients and limited in added sugars, saturated fat, and sodium.” – Myplate.gov
Here are a few tips from myplate.gov on how to snack and what to look for as you prepare snacks for the day.
Build your own
Make your own snack mix with unsalted nuts and add-ins such as seeds, unsweetened cereal, raisins or other dried fruit, and plain popcorn.
Wash and cut up fresh vegetables and portion them into reusable containers so they’re ready to grab and go. Many veggies can be prepped like this.
Make it a combo
Combine food groups to build satisfying snacks: yogurt and berries, apple with nut butter, or whole-grain crackers with turkey and avocado. Be creative!
Choose vibrant vegetables
Colorful and crunchy raw vegetables are a healthy choice. Try dipping broccoli, zucchini sticks, or baby carrots in hummus, guacamole, or a low-fat yogurt sauce.
Wash and enjoy
Fresh fruit makes a great go-to snack when you are looking for a quick sweet treat. Apples, pears, grapes, and bananas are always easy and fast.
Keep healthy options handy
Keep nutritious snack options, such as fruits and vegetables, visible and within reach in the fridge or on the counter for a convenient anytime snack.
It is amazing to see the results you will get from making just a few simple adjustments to what you are eating as well as doing some light walking every day! These are simple things that we can all try out without overhauling our entire lives. Like baby steps. Let’s face it, the last couple of years have been extremely rough for most of us, but with a few adjustments, we can make the best of it and start to work towards a better us.
Do you have any tips for the rest of us on how to kickstart 2022 in a healthy way? Simple exercises, delicious healthy snacks, or dishes? Share them with us in the comment section below, we love hearing from our readers. Together we can encourage each other and become better as a community!