6 Tips for a Healthy New Year

Sarah J. Weinstein, D.O. January 18th, 2021

It is a fresh new year and the holiday season is now officially behind us.  Although holiday decorations have been taken down, we may still have the endless array of baked goods and candies in our reach. If you are working in the office, you know all about the cookies, brownies or donuts that find their way into the staff kitchen - a new exciting treat daily. And if you’re working from home, you probably have extra time to bake (and taste test), especially if your family is home with you. Amidst another surge of COVID-19 and stay at home orders, it is hard for us to stick to our health routines. Below are a few easy tips that will help you and your family to make your 2021 a healthy one.

Eat Clean (the majority of the time!) 

Enjoy your holidays and start of the new year as you celebrate with family and loved ones. We all look forward to delicious home cooked meals and decadent desserts this time of year. That being said, allowing yourself to indulge daily over the next month will add up to extra unwanted pounds and unhealthy eating habits. A good rule to follow is the 80/20 rule. 80% of the time, the goal is to keep to a diet rich with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats and fish while limiting ultra processed foods that are loaded with added sugars, fillers, colors, chemicals and more. Read the labels and if you can’t pronounce it, it’s generally not real food! You will appreciate the holiday even more knowing that you have continued to follow healthy guidelines throughout the season.

 

Stay Hydrated 

Ensuring that you are staying well hydrated throughout the day has many known health benefits. Some benefits include increasing satiety, boosting energy levels, improving brain function and maximizing physical performance. While each person’s water requirement varies based on age, sex and activity level, a good rule is to let your thirst as well as urine color be your guide. Those who exercise more will need to drink more. If your urine is a pale yellow color, you will know you are doing a good job hydrating, however if it is a dark yellow or orange color, this is a sign you may be in a dehydrated state. Keep a water bottle by your side. If you desire a bit of flavor, try infusing the water with a slice of lime, lemon or orange.

The next time you are thinking about reaching for that brownie, try taking a few sips of water first!

 

Be Mindful 

Mindfulness is an important practice in general, but even more so during the holidays and new year, especially amidst the current pandemic. Be mindful about your daily food choices and your physical activity level. Not sure where to start? Establishing a meditation practice with apps such as Headspace, Calm or numerous others are a good way to begin easing into mindfulness and becoming more present. Studies have shown that establishing a gratitude practice has numerous health benefits and the holidays are a great time to start! Some ideas include keeping a gratitude journal, or thinking of three things you are grateful for each day. 

 

Set Realistic Goals 

The new year is always a great time to think about your fitness and health goals for the upcoming year. Most people stick to their goals for the first 2-3 weeks of January, and the spike in gym memberships attest to this! To stick to your resolutions, it’s incredibly important to set specific and realistic goals. The broader the goal, for example, “I want to go to the gym every day,” or “I want to eat healthier,” the harder it will be to follow. Is there a specific race or event that you want to work towards? Is there a specific pace mile you want to achieve? Are there certain foods you’d like to focus on eating?  Having a specific goal and coming up with a plan to achieve this goal will help you stick to the plan. Whether it’s about making dietary changes or exercising more, making this a family or partner goal can hold you accountable to each other.

Opt for Outside

Being in touch with nature has numerous health benefits. This holiday season, try to plan some quality time outdoors. Go for a walk, a hike, or a bike ride. You will be sure to feel invigorated afterward, as long as you make sure to dress appropriately according to the weather. 

Have Fun! 

The best way to stick to your health routine during the holidays is to enjoy it. If you are trying to exercise more, pick an activity that excites you and that you have fun doing. You will have an easier time getting motivated if it doesn’t feel like it is a chore. Treat yourself to a fun new workout outfit that you get excited to wear. Find a workout app or online program that will help keep you structured. There is something out there for everyone, so find what works for you and stick to it! 

Dr. Sarah Weinstein is non-operative sports medicine physician, and sees patients in Hamilton, Pennington and Princeton.

 

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