Motivation for a healthy new year

Now that the holidays are behind us and life has returned to normal its time to give some thought to a strategy for a healthy new year. Let this be the year that you make improvements that will decrease your risk of hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes, stroke, etc. Although there are many suggestions to help avoid the previous listed conditions let’s keep it simple. By incorporating healthy nutrition habits and regular physical activity you can greatly decrease your risk for most disease and health ailment. Remember our bodies were designed to move! Our ancestors did not rely on cars, elevators, computers or even groceries stores for daily living. I’m not suggesting that you rely on your hunting and gathering skills to survive (let’s face it, most of us would starve if that were the case), however I will provide several suggestions in the next couple of paragraphs to incorporate healthier habits for the new year and the rest of your life.

Most of us are accustomed to hopping in the car to get to work, but what about running errands locally? If you have to run to the bank or grab a couple of items from the drug store, why not take a break during your day and walk to get these errands done. Adding a few minutes of activity here and there can improve your health and mood greatly. The same holds true for using the stairs instead of the elevator. In addition to these simple steps to become more active, pull out your calendar each week and make it a point to schedule just 30 minutes most days of the week for purposeful exercise. Remember that as we age we lose muscle mass, unless we engage in some sort of resistance training to maintain it. Loss of muscle mass will result in slowing metabolism, which will leave us feeling weak, sluggish and soft around the middle. Believe it or not it is very possible to get a comprehensive workout with very little equipment and no gym membership. As a matter of fact you can begin your program with no equipment at all, just your own body. Don’t wait to begin this new habit. Start w/ simple chair squats, stair step ups, push ups (perhaps modified), crunches, etc. Once these are no longer a challenge see a fitness professional for options on progressing to a more challenging program.

Don’t let the weather be your excuse! Although the temps on the Northeast can be very cold this time of year it is still important to get plenty of fresh air and exposure to the sun (which can provide that Vitamin D we tend to lack during winter months) Bundle up and get out for a brisk walk with the family/dog, grab a pair of skates or nordic skis and work up a sweat, or if you run grab your shoes with the deep tread and get out for a run and enjoy the sights and sounds that only winter can bring. Whether or not you have children you can always get out on the hill for some sledding and get a workout in climbing up the hill. Besides, what is more enjoyable that curling up in front of the fire with a hot cup of cocoa, tea or soup after being outside and active in the cold …yum!

Speaking of soup, what a great way to create a winter meal filled with fresh veggies! Soups and stews are the perfect way to create an enjoyable, healthy meal to keep you warm during the winter months. Try using winter squashes as a base, then add other fresh veggies or even fruit to enhance the flavor. Chicken soup is always a crowd pleaser and can leave room for creativity when it comes to fillers such as different varieties of rice, pasta or potatoes. Using weekend left overs to make a big pot of soup can provide lunch for the first couple of days during your work week and help eliminate food wasting. Make it a point to use as many fresh ingredients as possible and work your way to the recommendation of 5 fruits/veggies each day. Following this guideline you are sure to start of your new year healthy and full of energy.


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