November is here! Leaves are changing, mornings are brisk (for some), and Thanksgiving is only weeks away. It’s a great time to commit (or re-commit) to a healthy lifestyle, to choose nutritious food and be active every day.
“What?!” You may be thinking to yourself. “The holidays are coming up and that means lots of food, parties and crazy schedules! Commit to a healthy lifestyle? No way! It’s a terrible time to start. I’ll start right after the holidays!”
Nope. Do it now. Carpe diem. Every day’s a great day to do something good for your health.
A healthy lifestyle is something you strive for every day. It isn’t temporary. Even if you have a long way to go, start small and build up to where you want to be. Small steps make a big difference in your mental and physical well-being. And remember, no one’s perfect and you don’t need to be perfect either.
Not sure what to do? Need directions to the Starting Line?
Here are some suggestions in the area of nutrition and exercise you can do to start your healthy lifestyle now.
Make good nutrition choices
- Cook at home. If holiday schedules mean meals on the run, plan ahead and be prepared with frozen vegetables, jar sauces, quick cook grains, etc. Choose minimum ingredient foods when possible. (Read “How to Read a Food Label” for more information.) Even a little bit of meal prep will go a long way to get dinner on the table faster, healthier, and less expensive than going through the drive through.
- Eat healthy snacks. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and nuts are excellent choices. This can help prevent you from getting over-hungry which can keep you from making good food choices.
- Practice portion control. Rather than completely cutting out your favorite not-so-healthy foods, serve yourself a small amount and enjoy it. This will keep you from feeling deprived of the foods you love.
- Avoid “saving yourself” for the big meal. You may think it’s a good idea to “save yourself” for the big office potluck or holiday buffet. You’d be better off eating nutritious meals and snacks throughout the day so that you’re in a better frame of mind to continue to make good choices.
- Be mindful of your beverage choices. Sugary drinks, juices, and ciders are high in calories. Drink water throughout the day. Try flavoring water with lemon, mint, lime, or other fruit.
Make it a lifestyle. Do it for you and those you love.
Recent research confirms that lack of physical activity increases risk of chronic illness like heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and even cancer. According to the Centers for Disease Control:
“Regular physical activity helps improve your overall health and fitness, and reduces your risk for many chronic diseases.”
Here are some suggestions to get you started:
- Take the stairs instead of an escalator or elevator.
- Track your steps and set a goal of 10,000 steps a day. Most smart phones have a built in step tracker. There are many wearable fitness trackers such as Fitbit, Garmin, Apple, or pedometer. Work up to your goal by starting small and gradually increasing your steps. Do what you can, even if it’s walking for 10 minutes a day. Remember, something is better than nothing
- If you sit a lot during the day, stand up and stretch and/or walk for a few minutes every hour. Set a reminder on your phone or watch. There are exercise and stretch reminder apps for mobile devices for free or for a minimal fee.
- Park in the farthest parking space and walk to your destination.
- Get a work buddy and walk before or after work. During the fall and winter months, daylight hours are short so be safe and walk in a well-lit and busy area. If you work in a building, try walking the halls and staircases.
- Join an exercise group. When you find an activity you enjoy and join others who like it as much as you do, you’re more likely to stay committed to it. Read here for benefits of joining a group.
- Get an accountability partner. Share your goals with a trusted friend who’ll hold you accountable and encourage you to keep at it. Select some one who understands your challenges, but won’t let you off the hook.
Get started now.
There’s no time like the present to take that first step. Commit to doing one thing at a time and then build from there.
If you already exercise, keep it up. Be flexible and stay as consistent as you can. Remember, something is better than nothing.
Yes, it will soon be the holiday season and it’s as good a time as any to taking steps toward a healthier you. It’s always a great time to take care of yourself so you can do the work you need to do – so you can take care of who and what you need to take care of.
Do you have any strategies to help you stay on track through the holiday season? Please share in the comments below.