10 Steps to a Healthier New Year!

This is the time of year when most adults are reviewing their life and setting goals. Many of us are making a healthier lifestyle part of the plan for the upcoming year. This year is my 43rd year in the Martial Arts Industry. Over that time, I have come up with some points to share that have helped me stay physically active and healthy.

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Create Time – I have heard from so many adults, that they just can’t work their fitness time into their life. We all take time for other things in our life that we consider essential. I would venture to say, there is not an adult among us who doesn’t give 30 minutes to an hour to get ready for work. We wouldn’t consider giving up that routine, as it is essential to our success. That has to become your mindset for getting healthy activity time. I know here at our dojo, that working parents often get on our treadmills while watching their children take class. Look for those opportunities in your life.

Vicious Cycle – So many of us won’t get started on our fitness goals because we think we can’t get in 3-5 days a week of activity.  Sometimes we don’t start because it would be better to start in 3 weeks when we won’t interrupt our new pattern. That is defeatist thinking! We should all start now because 30 minutes this week is better than the zero minutes of last week. We are sabotaging ourselves by waiting to do it at a time when we can totally devote to keeping a regular schedule. There will always be interruptions. It is okay to not be perfect. Ten minutes a day of walking is better than waiting until you have 30 minutes.

Healthy Eating Pitfalls – Many of us also waited until after the holidays to get better about eating. That is another bad habit we can break. It is okay to focus on healthy eating all the time. It is also okay to be tempted to have something that you know is not on your ideal eating plan. Have the dessert if it is screaming your name. Then go outside for a 30 minute walk.  That is a much better plan that having the cookies and deciding you are off your plan and you might as well enjoy more of the same for the next few weeks until you can get serious again. It is much easier to lose 5 pounds than it is to lose 20 pounds.

Healthy Lifestyles are not a punishment – So many of us think of certain foods as cheating. Similarly we feel guilty for sitting around reading a book on a beautiful Sunday afternoon. The thinking here is the problem.  We need to enjoy both aspects of life. If you are taking some time to read or even watch TV, it is an indulgence of time that makes you happy. Don’t feel guilty because you are not working out. Set yourself up for success and plan your workouts so that you also enjoy your downtime. Go to Karate class three times this week and have a great relaxing Sunday with family  and friends.

Getting off Track is not a big deal – If your fitness plan is to walk the neighborhood for one hour a day, four days a week, don’t berate yourself if you decide not to walk in 28 degree weather. There are so many options to getting that activity in. Dancing in the living room with your kids or grandkids is just as much activity. The important thing to realize is that if you have bronchitis and miss your workouts for a week, it is no big deal, get back on it when you feel better. The problem is when we decide that we have missed it so we ruined our plan and might as well quit.

Remember it is about health – When times are tough and the food plan and activity plan is not working out, it is best to remember it is all about being healthy. Believe me, you want to be the healthy one, when a real crisis comes up.  You want to be the one who recovers the quickest from a health crisis. It really isn’t about losing 10 pounds. It is about being healthy enough to come back from an ankle injury, a appendicitis or even something more serious.

Celebrate success – Everyone should celebrate their successes in healthier lifestyles. We each need to define what the celebration should be. For some, the celebration is getting compliments from friends around you, so you should be sure to let them know if you feel good about something. For others, celebration is indulging in something. Rewards can be as simple as a weekly hour to yourself, by making a deal with someone else to cover the kids. Or your reward might be shopping, going to a movie or out with friends. Define your reward.

Create alternatives – We sometimes have an activity of choice that is our fitness routine. Then we feel lost when we can no longer do that particular activity. The greatest thing about a healthy lifestyle is learning that there are so many activities that can be your fitness. If you normally walk a few days a week with a friend and one week you find that your friend has twisted an ankle and can’t walk, you need an alternative. To be safe, you choose not to walk alone. So, either ask someone else to go for a walk, or try out a groupon for a fun new activity.

Workout with a friend – Studies have found that you are much more likely to keep up fitness if you can share it with a friend. Sometimes you have to go join a group class of some sort to develop those friendships. It’s a new year, it is a great time for a new start. Try a Karate class or join an activity that has some built in lessons involved so your mind is occupied by the new challenges as well as your body.

Eat smart – There is no time like the present to set up some new habits. Consider actually planning your food for a week and see how it goes. There are not that many adults that actually bring their lunch to work every day. So start somewhere. Go to the grocery store on Sunday with meal preparation in mind. See if you can do a week without fast food.  Remember, starting with short term goals is reasonable, so tell yourself you are doing this for a week and see how it goes. One of my biggest successes is that I prepare two thermoses, daily.  They contain my own drink concoction of ½ Crystal Light Lemonade that has been flavored with cut up Lemons, Limes and Oranges and water.  I am not the best water drinker, so I came up with a plan to make me consume more water.

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