Start the New Year Healthy and Happy

It’s the beginning of a brand, new year and a great time to wipe the slate clean and start on the path to a healthier and happier you. No matter what age, or stage of your life you are in, it’s never too late to start a journey to being healthy and fit. We’ve gathered some tips to help you get started.

Aim for good nutrition and add more fruits and vegetables into your diet – It’s not always easy to make healthy dietary choices, but starting small and setting attainable goals towards healthy eating is a great way to start. Start by stocking your refrigerator with healthy foods and slowly start to eliminate junk food, like chips, soda and candy from your diet. It’s recommended that we eat at least five portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day. Chop up a banana over your breakfast cereal or swap out an unhealthy mid-day snack with a fresh piece of fruit. Raw vegetables like celery and carrots with hummus are a quick, healthy snack. By slowly integrating healthier foods into your diet, you will start to crave these options rather than the less healthy options.

Educate yourself – Knowing exactly what’s on the end of your fork is critical to a healthy lifestyle. Watch YouTube videos, read books and blogs and search the internet to educate yourself about nutrition and which foods and ingredients are best/worst for you. There are many companies trying to sell you their new shakes, pills and diet plans but don’t be fooled. There is no magic formula other than eating real, whole foods (foods that have not been processed or refined and are free from additives and other artificial substances) and getting active exercise.

Track your daily exercise, water intake and sleep – A new trend for daily planners and journals are health trackers. Keeping a daily log of how many glasses of water you drink, daily exercise, and sleep patterns will help keep you motivated each month. Check out examples of these trackers on Pinterest.

Get enough sleep – Sleep deprivation can sabotage your waistline and your health. If you are feeling sleepy at work you might be tempted to grab a donut, unhealthy snacks or cream filled coffee for a quick shot of energy. Lack of sleep also slows down your metabolism which can cause weight gain. Most adults need 7 to 9 hours a night for the best amount of sleep.

Get moving and exercise daily – Doing 30 minutes of cardio exercise daily contributes heavily to your overall health. Benefits include boosting your cardiovascular endurance, regulating your cholesterol, improving your heart health, lowering your blood pressure and burning calories to help you maintain your weight or shed a few pounds. Start by walking just 10 minutes a day and continue to increase the duration and intensity of your exercise sessions.

Cut out sugary drinks and fast food – White sugar contains 15 calories per teaspoon and a 20 oz. soda contains 16 teaspoons of sugar. Sugar is needed for energy and is an essential fuel for muscles, internal organs and brain function but the problem is that most individuals consume too much sugar. You don’t have to completely eliminate sugar from your diet but simply moderate and reduce the amount of sugar you use. Fast food is generally very high in calories, trans fat and simple sugars. Skipping fast food can go a long way in benefitting your health and shrinking your waistline, plus, you will save a lot of money by eating at home!

Place a priority on maintaining your health – We are all busy but scheduling medical checkups, health screenings and vision exams should take priority and can save lives. Take the time to schedule these important visits to health professionals because these exams can identify problems early, when the chances for treatment, and possibly a cure, are better.

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