Here’s a New Year’s Resolution: Don’t wait until the new year to start living healthier.
Heading into the holiday season is the perfect time to resolve to live a healthier, more active life. For starters, think of all the holiday damage you’ll avoid (or at least minimize) if you change your ways pronto. Research on holiday weight gain suggests that the problem isn’t so much the extra pound or two we put on, it’s the fact that it takes us a while to shed that weight if we shed it at all. So why not just nip that weight gain in the bud starting now. Some thoughts on inaugurating a pre-emptive start to healthier living.
Keep moving (or get started)
People tend to get so overwhelmed this time of year by the demands of year-end deadlines, parties, and shopping that they neglect to move. How simple it is to keep your body in motion by doing the things we’ve long been told to do: take the stairs instead of the elevator, park at the far end of the parking lot, walk everywhere you possibly can. Sure, we’re headed into winter, but the average daytime high in December, for the Piedmont at least, is still 54 degrees. Perfect for a walk outdoors.
Walk on the weekends
Those short walks during the week are great. Build aerobic capacity and burn calories on the weekend by working a one-hour walk into your schedule. One little hour — you can spare that. And you’ll be surprised by how energizing it can be.
Better still, take a hike
Hiking adds to a walk the elements of elevation and escape. The former causes you to burn more calories, true, but it also mixes up the workout and actually makes it seem to go faster. And the escape? At a time of year when you’re immersed in the pressures of civilized life, escaping into the woods — even for just an hour — gives you the clarity to survive another deadline, another party, another trip to the mall.
A grab-and-go breakfast — or no breakfast at all — set a lousy tone for the day. You’ll start slow and the the day will devolve into a sluggish uphill struggle. On the other hand, start with a mix of protein and carbohydrates — Greek-style yogurt, spinach, and veggie omelet, cottage cheese and fruit — and you’ll have an energetic morning and be more inclined to eat healthy the rest of the day.
Drink smart. This is the time of year when all sorts of alcoholic concoctions surface, many mixing sugar-laden sodas or juice with already sugary alcohol. Drink one, then switch to fizzy water. Better for you on so many levels.
Drink water. Resolve now to drink more water. Keeping hydrated does so many good things for your body, from flushing toxins to keep you energized, to keeping you mentally sharp (and staving off headaches).
Use a smaller plate. We tend to view holiday buffets as a game of Jenga: how many deviled eggs can we pile on top of how many croissants on top of how many slices of prime rib? Start with a platter and you’re in for a world of hurt later on. Go for the salad plate instead.
Savor. Yes, everything on that buffet does look good. So take less and enjoy what you have more. Let your taste buds savor the season, because really, after that third or fourth bite, the pleasure you derive from those parmesan tuiles diminishes significantly.
Enjoy. Paying attention to living healthier now doesn’t mean enjoying the holidays less. Just the opposite. By starting the day with a properly filled fuel tank, by staying on the move and keeping your head clear, by savoring (not starving), by simply being better to yourself, you’ll enjoy the enjoy the holidays more than you thought possible.
By the time Jan. 1 rolls around, you’ll be mentally and physically prepared to tackle all these other resolutions on your list.