How to Get Healthy and Find Balance This New Year

 Written by Guest Blogger Sheila Olson

The new year is often associated with vows of fitness and health. However, to maintain a new fitness routine, one needs to ensure we do not push ourselves too hard. Health is more than strict diets and two hours of exercise a day, after all. Need help? Follow these tips.

Eating Sensibly

There is little doubt that food plays a significant role in our weight. And we tend to watch what we eat when we are trying to slim down. Marketers know this and use many clever tricks to get us to pick foods they want us to believe are healthy. The reality is that anything in a box or adorned with colorful cartoon characters probably isn’t actually good for you. Processed foods, those which aren’t in their whole form, don’t contain any real nutritional value, and they even lead to weight gain. 

Instead of buying portion-controlled meals from the freezer, fill your cart — and your plate — with lean proteins, good fats, and vitamin-rich fruits and vegetables. It’s okay to indulge every once in a while, but make these treats a rare occasion. 

Working Out for Health and Fun

Exercise is important for overall health. Yet, so many of us either overdo or underdo it. If you’re the kind of person who feels exercise is a chore, that’s simply because you haven’t found the right activity. One trick is to stop thinking of it as exercising and start thinking of it as fun. What physical activities do you enjoy? Walking your dog? Going to the park? Swimming at the beach? If you don’t know where to start, think about joining a dance class for beginners. Just try something; if you end up not liking it, then try something else. If you find yourself going gung-ho and over-exercising, and subsequently burning out or simply engaging in obsessive habits, you need to tone down. You can alternate high-intensity days with low-intensity sessions, or just cut back what you’re doing. You need a healthy balance, after all. 

Getting the Sleep You Need

There is no getting around the fact that if you’re not sleeping well, you aren’t at optimal health. In fact, prolonged lack of sleep can lead to more than just excessive snacking or moodiness the day after. It can produce serious conditions such as hypertension, depression, diabetes, and psychotic disorders. In other words, you need to improve your sleep hygiene if it is poor. Think about what might be causing you to sleep badly. Is it discomfort? Is your mattress lumpy, stiff, or otherwise uncomfortable? You may need to replace it to sleep better. You should also be following a good sleep routine. Go to bed at the same time every night. Rise at the same time, even on weekends. Lower your stimulants in the afternoon. Relax without technology an hour before bed to help your brain unwind. Find something that works for you, and stick with it. 

Looking Past Stress

Stress is a killer — literally. It can lead to increased suffering from illness and even conditions such as coronary disease and depression. Learning to deal with the stress you experience is in your health’s best interests. Start by reminding yourself in stressful situations that you will get through them, no matter what they are. Another good way to combat stress is to counter the physical reactions we experience under duress. Slow your heart rate by taking deep breaths. Try to treat yourself gently; everyone makes mistakes, and they typically aren’t the end of the world. Don’t berate yourself when you falter. Instead, remember past successes, and tell yourself your value is not dependent on what you produce. Positive self-talk can have a marked impact on our mental well-being and, thereby, our health.

Being healthy is a goal we should aspire to. However, that doesn’t mean letting diets and exercise push us to the breaking point. It means finding balance and enjoying our lives. 

Image Courtesy of Pixabay