Get back on track with your health in 2017

The holidays are over. Take a deep breath and a sigh of relief. Whether your holidays were relaxing and enjoyable or busy and stressful, it’s time to reset. For many of us, that means working off the sweet treats and getting back to a consistent exercise and eating schedule. But how do you get back on track?

Make a point to exercise

Get a friend and help each other stick to your exercise routines.

Whether it’s for weight management, strength or to counteract the effects of sitting all day for those of us with desk jobs, we need to move around more often. Commit to at least moderate exercise each day. Research by the University of California San Diego found major health benefits, including anti-inflammatory qualities, of engaging in 20 minutes of moderate exercise every day. Grab a coworker and take a brisk walk on your lunch break. When you get home, do a quick full-body toning workout like this one from POPSUGAR.

Any plan works best when you have accountability. Get a buddy to attend fitness classes with you or make up your own. You can also have a friend commit to a resolution as well, and hold each other accountable. A website like stickK lets you put money on the line for achieving your goal. When you succeed, a charity you love gets your donation.

Be realistic about dieting

Exercise is only part of the equation to feeling better this year. Jumping on the latest fad diet or cleanse is probably not in your best interest. Any diet that doesn’t fit at least somewhat with your lifestyle and eating habits is hard to maintain. Instead, whatever diet you can stick with is your best bet. Start with baby steps, such as adding a small serving of fruit or vegetables to every meal — blueberries in your cereal, baby carrots at lunch and a side of green beans at dinner. Replace one sugary drink with water every day. Switch up your eating habits by trying new meals during the week.

Meal planning is a great way to stick with any change in eating habits. Take time over the weekend to map out what you’re going to eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner throughout the week. This helps you avoid a drive-thru run or grabbing pizza after a long day.

Get enough sleep

Adults need anywhere from 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night. Getting plenty of sleep is essential to your overall health and functioning. While setting up your exercise routine and making a meal plan, work on your bedtime habits as well. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Avoid caffeine late in the day, and watch the alcohol at night to get started.

Set goals for the year

To make long-term changes, set realistic and attainable goals to follow through on all year. You may feel motivated now to head to the gym for an hour after work every day, but how long can you keep that up? Wearing yourself out now, or attempting a diet that doesn’t fit with your daily routine or expects you to eat foods you really don’t like, sets you up for failure. Instead, you can begin a quick-start program, such as getting to the gym three days per week or limiting your alcohol intake to one or two drinks at happy hour. Then have a plan to continue the hard work after that period, such as going to the gym every day for two weeks or cutting out sugar for one week or avoiding alcohol all month.

With commitment, accountability and reasonable goals, you can get back on track this year and still feel good about your accomplishments come December.

Photo credit: Pixabay

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