It’s that time of year again. Over the past few weeks, we strived to wear the perfect outfit, get the perfect gift and host the perfect holiday party. While it was a festive time, many of us got perfectly stressed out.
And the thought of exercising went right out the window. Instead, we promised to start or restart the first day of the new year. In that instant, we surrendered to mounds of food and drink, failed to get enough rest and slogged through December.
Now that we’ve reached that restarting point, we can take a few simple steps to live up to our promise by managing stress and keeping ourselves healthy.
First, let’s set some goals by being SMART — specific, measureable, attainable, realistic and time-sensitive. Write your goals down, but remember that we cannot change our habits or bodies overnight.
Then get moving. That’s the simplest way to reduce stress levels and improve health. In the world of exercise, it’s called physical activity. The American College of Sports Medicine defines this as any bodily movement produced by the contraction of skeletal muscles that results in a substantial increase in caloric requirements.
What does physical activity look like? Anything that gets you moving. It is completing activities of daily living, like cleaning the house, working in the yard or taking a walk with the family, friends or the dog.
Remember, you always can borrow a dog. They love walks. Just ask one. Walking is a great form of exercise. We are not suggesting ultra marathons; just getting your heart rate up for an extended period of time is good.
Exercise doesn’t require a lot of time. New guidelines from the Department of Health and Human Services recommend at least 150 minutes of moderately intense activity a week — or about 22 minutes daily.
Two other keys to keeping your promise to work on your health are eating in moderation and reducing consumption of sugary drinks. One can of soda, which may have 150 calories, can be replaced with water — something the body desperately needs.
To recap, get moving, eat in moderation and set achievable goals. I recommend apps or websites such as My Fitness Pal or FitDay.com to track what you eat and the calories you burn. Don’t forget to take before and after pictures.
Finally, write down why you are making these changes. This way, you can start 2020 off right.
You can do it! You have to put your mind in place first and your body will follow. I wish you the very best on your journey to a new you.