The New Year is often a time for resolutions and start-overs for many of us as we see the turning of the calendar as a perfect time to get our stuff in order. And while we may have the best intentions on December 31, we also may find our resolutions waning just weeks after setting them. Still, with 2022 here and a clean slate in front of us, it is a good time to set some goals and the necessary steps needed to achieve them.
Although it sounds good, eating better can be difficult, especially in our always on-the-go lifestyle. Still, a healthy and balanced diet cannot be underestimated as a poor diet can lead to a variety of health challenges including obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, some cancers and even tooth decay.
If eating better is important to you, keep these things in mind:
1. Prepare your meals at home using whole foods more than those with minimal processing, such as fresh vegetables, fruits and nuts.
2. Make a meal plan each week. Even if you don’t eat all your meals at home every day and night, map out those meals, especially dinner, and plan accordingly.
3. Ditch the soda when you can and switch to water. Purchase a water bottle to keep with you throughout the day and drink from that.
4. Eat smaller meals throughout the day. It’s OK to snack between breakfast, lunch and dinner, too, because if you wait too long between meals, you’re apt to eat more. Just make sure you have healthy snacks like almonds, fruit, and yogurt.
With all the stresses of everyday life from work and family life to unexpected challenges, it’s no doubt that quality sleep can be elusive. Still, a good sleep habit leads to a plethora of benefits from an improved mood and the ability to think clearly to a decrease in health risks such as diabetes and heart disease.
So what can you do to ensure you’re getting enough winks this year? Consider the following:
1. Stick to a sleep schedule. Get in the habit of going to bed and waking up around the same time every day, even on the weekends. Your body’s sleep-wake cycle likes consistency which will help you sleep better overall.
2. Create a restful sleep environment. Your bedroom should be dark and quiet when your head hits the pillow. And, your bed should be reserved for those activities associated with it – reading before you turn in, sex, and sleep. Anything else, like working, talking on the phone and even watching TV should take place elsewhere in your home.
3. Be mindful of what you consume. Some people are sensitive to caffeine, which can affect the ability to fall and stay asleep, so watch how much coffee, tea or soda you drink. Same with alcohol which can make you feel sleepy but wreak havoc on your ability to stay asleep later.
4. Get physical throughout the day. Regular physical activity can promote good sleep, but just be sure not to exercise too close to bedtime. Also, go outside for a walk or a run. The fresh air does wonders.
We all know the benefits of exercise but finding the time (or desire) to work out can be a challenge. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that adults should aim for 150 minutes of physical activity that is moderate in intensity each week, yet fewer than half of American adults are as active as they should be.
If you want to exercise more throughout 2022, heed the following advice:
1. Brisk walking at a 20-minute mile cadence or faster provides similar benefits to running and is something you can do for free. Throw in your air pods or meet a friend and take a walk a few times a week.
2. Break the 150 minutes into bite-sized increments. Make a schedule and fill in the days and times that you can work out.
3. Incorporate exercise into your day. If waking up early and hitting the gym isn’t your style, that’s OK. Commit to getting up from your desk and walking around the office or block every other hour, or tell yourself you’re going to take the stairs rather than an elevator or escalator, and do a plank for 30 seconds every morning. The more you can incorporate it into your day, the easier it will be to become a habit.
4. Track your progress and reward yourself. As you exercise more, you’ll no doubt start to feel better, which is a great benefit, but you also should celebrate your achievement. Treat yourself to something when you’ve reached certain milestones. It doesn’t have to be big, but you deserve it.
As you embark on the new year and take the steps to improve your eating, sleeping and exercise, reach out to your health care provider with any questions or concerns. We are here to help.
And, Happy 2022!