Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Start Now and Hit the Ground Running in 2016

In my last post (11/10), I said this:

When you have a productive day and you're feeling you're best, think about what you ate that morning, or even the day before. What about exercise? Did that ‘great’ day include exercise on the previous day, or that same morning?”

And then, I said this: “If so, keep doing it! When you find foods or exercise habits that work for you, make a mental note of them. Start picturing yourself heading into 2016 having more "great" days in a week or month than you have right now. Keep up the practices that work for you.

Why am I repeating it again this week? Because so many people look to Jan 1 each year as the day to start getting in shape, which includes exercising, eating healthy, and cultivating a productive attitude toward life. But is there a worse day to actually implement a new plan for healthy living? Perhaps…Christmas may be a worse day, or Thanksgiving. Jan 1, the first day of the New Year, may be inviting mentally, but in practical terms, it stinks. There are way too many inviting distractions: You and your family are off from school and work; you’ve just survived the busiest time of the year and you deserve a break! And then there was New Year’s Eve, which may not have left you feeling your best.

And that’s why I suggested, in my last post, to start thinking about a new approach to your health in the coming year right now—in November—and not on January 1. Pick a few days (today might be one of them!) where you have a high-protein, low-fat, high-fiber breakfast, drink plenty of water, and work in time for a walk around the neighborhood. Do that twice this week – arguably the biggest eating day of the year next to the week of Christmas, and guess what: You will go into the first week of the last month of the year just a little bit better than you were before. Not perfect—better.

For month of December, do the same thing, whenever you can. And don’t forget: walking around a mall all day, or running all over town and walking around several stores or malls is exercise! If you have a shopping day planned, there’s your exercise! Take advantage of that day of walking and combine with healthy food choices. Then, at the end of the day, make a note of how you feel. Was your energy level a little better following that healthy breakfast of nutrient-rich food? Did you get more done than you expected? Don’t write this off to coincidence. Your body will give back to you what you put into it, period.

So what I’m suggesting you do is ease into your desire to find a healthier lifestyle next year, this year, with the remaining weeks of 2015. I call this the “sneak attack.” The problem with picking a day in the future, and proclaiming “Starting Jan 1, I’m going to really get in shape!” is that people tend to feel like they have a green light in the days and weeks leading up to Jan 1 to eat anything they want, and get no exercise at all. Why? Because on January 1 they’re going to exercise like crazy and eat vegetables and lean protein at every meal and stop eating sweets, right? Wrong.

Instead, pick a few days that are right in front of you, like one or two this week and next, and then in the following few weeks, and plan ahead just a little bit: have healthy breakfast choices in the refrigerator and make time for a walk or even a quick run on the treadmill into your day. It’s not difficult to do and it serves as a head start for 2016. Hit the ground running in 2016. If you have spent even half of the days in December making healthy choices and getting just a little exercise, you’ll have earned a little couch time on Jan 1. 

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