With the new year right around the corner, you’re bound to start thinking about resolutions. They come around every year and seem to be followed by swarms of people eager to ask you how you plan on improving your life.
While there may be a few things you want to work on, we always suggest putting personal health as a top priority. Consider it for a few moment – what are some changes you would like to see in your diet, lifestyle, and daily living habits? Maybe you have a lot to work on, or maybe you think you’re doing pretty well. Whatever stage you’re at, though, here are some no-brainer basics to make 2012 your healthier year yet.
Number 1. Choose Organic, Local, Meatless
Let’s start with the biggest challenge: food. Over the last century, we’ve grown accustomed to plentiful plants and an apathetic attitude when it came to ‘where’ and ‘how’ our meals were being produced. Today, that’s beginning to change. We’re hearing more and more about how our eating habits have the power to shape the planet, for better or for worse. That’s why it’s important we start to eat organic, locally grown foods, as well as more vegetables in place of meat and animal products. By pursuing these three goals in tandem, we can help curtail problems like soil depletion, hypoxia, and drought.
Now, this is a tall order for many people. Organic food isn’t always the cheapest or closest thing to home, and reducing meat consumption can almost seem sacrilegious to a family devoted to a omnivorous diet. While the challenge may seem tough, though, you can do it.
- Start growing your own. By planting a few vegetables, you provide yourself with healthy, organic food that is just about as local as it gets. This will also help offset costs for other organic products, like milk and cheeses.
- Shop at farmers markets. This is your key source for local foods, so support it!
- Choose specific days to avoid meat. I started with meatless Mondays, and aim to do the same for me Wednesdays and Saturdays. Where will you start?
- Tricks aren’t just for kids. Try to replace some meat products with alternatives, or serve your meat-free dishes with anyone knowing (vegetable lasagna, after all, looks remarkably like regular lasagna).
Number 2. Start a New Exercise Regimen
Okay, granted this is something we all seem to promise ourselves, restarting (or beginning) a new exercise regimen is a great goal for the New Year. But like so many things, this is all about the follow through. Mental preparation is one thing, but you’ve got to commit to a regular schedule. If you’re new to the world of exercise, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, while you’ll see fast results early on, remember that this is you body adapting to the environment and you will eventually hit an early plateau. Don’t be discouraged!
Next, remember that as you demand more energy, you must satisfy supply. Be sure to complement your diet with extra snacks and supplements to encourage both a restorative and proactive growth of your body.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, plan, understand, and be safe when you follow a new exercise regimen. Know the basics about choosing a diet and energy program, and don’t hesitate to contact your physician if you notice any abnormalities or pains.
Number 3. Quit the Bad
Another somewhat cliche, yet critical, resolution. Just tell yourself now – Quit smoking. Quit drinking. Quit the bad.
Everyone has their way of dealing with daily stressors, and some forms are better than others. Some turn to art, some to sports, and some to drugs or alcohol. While it’s crucial to deal with your stress, it’s even more important to move forward in a healthy, lucid state of mind. This ties nicely into our next goal.
Number 4. Think Positive
I was recently reminded that phrasing things positively, as well as approaching your goals while in a good mood, is critical for success. The power of the mind is not to be ignored – your mental state is reflected in your physical actions and performance. Just consider when you are forced to do something instead of volunteering or wanting to do it yourself. The task stays the same, but the mindset changes.
So, while you can’t always control your mood, set the sails in the right direction. Begin each day by stating your mantra, stretching and nourishing the body, and embracing the life ahead.
Number 5. Reinforce Your Relationships
Humans are social beings, so don’t avoid working a social aspect into your New Year. The next and final goal for 2012 should be to reinforce, strengthen, and otherwise further develop your personal relationships. This doesn’t have to be through pouring one’s heart out, nor does it have to be through an intervention or something equally dramatic. Instead, reach out to some old friends, maybe spark up that relationship you’re still curious about, and don’t be afraid to inspire someone along the way.