The news is full of doom and gloom, so I am here to offer some hope. Usually we all talk about getting healthy in January. But in light of what we have all been going through, I thought it was a good idea to talk about having a health plan going forward.
During the pandemic lockdown, I have heard only two doctor specialists say something I find important: If you are healthy and have a strong immune system, you are much more likely to fight off many illnesses.
Everyone’s plan will be unique to them.
Set realistic goals. Do you need to lose a few pounds? Take your measurements and weigh yourself, but then refrain from daily weigh-ins. Instead, re-take your measurements every few weeks and weigh once a month.
Exercise daily. Health experts say set your goal for 10,000 steps a day — but even if you can’t get that many, wear a step counter and move as much as possible.
Now that the weather has warmed up try to get outside as much as possible. The natural vitamin D from the sun is so good for you. If you can’t get out in the sun, consider taking a supplement.
Make a menu plan every week. Even if your weekly menu includes getting take-out (support local businesses as they try to boost their revenue), pencil your take-out dinner on your weekly menu.
When planning your menu, include healthy dinners made up of plenty of lean protein and fresh vegetables. If cooking isn’t your thing, try batch cooking. Instead of cooking one or two chicken breasts, cook four or five for later in the week.
Make a big batch of soup or chili and freeze in individual servings. Cook several pounds of ground beef or turkey, and use in tacos, burritos and soups.
Eat as clean as possible. If possible, choose organic meats and produce. Avoid processed foods. If you do eat processed food, look for one’s with no more than five ingredients.
Stay hydrated. So many of our health issues would improve if we drank plenty of clean, filtered water. Measure how many cups of water your cup holds and how many times you need to refill it per day. Aim for drinking about half a gallon of water/fluids per day. Being fully hydrated keeps your metabolism active, gives you energy, and promotes overall health. If you don’t like plain water, try adding citrus, mint leaves, or cucumber slices.
Don’t completely deprive yourself. When you tell yourself you can’t have any sugar at all, that is what you tend to crave. Instead, let yourself have a small piece of dark chocolate every few days.
Recruit a partner for your plan. When it comes to a health plan and exercise routine, nothing helps more than having someone to partner with on the journey. The best partner is probably your spouse, but a good friend works as well.
Record your activity. Try keeping a little notebook (or your device/cell phone), to keep track of your movements and measurements. If you are new to regular exercise, you will surprised to see how fast you progress.
Incorporate weights in your exercise routine. Even if you begin with three or five pound weights, strength training is incredibly helpful in building muscle and keeping your bones strong and healthy — something incredibly important as we age.
Read something uplifting every day. There is so much negativity in our world, we all need something positive and impactful occupying our minds.
Try a new hobby. It might seem odd to include this in your health plan, but hobbies are fun and let you lose yourself for a few hours. Plant a little garden. There is still time. If you are at a loss for ideas, visit a craft store.
Volunteer. Nothing makes you feel better than when you are helping others. Our local nonprofits have been hit hard with the pandemic. Consider volunteering when it is safe to do so. I promise you will not regret volunteering and you will love the caliber of people you meet.
As difficult as these past weeks have been, let’s use this experience to put our health first. Let’s all make a negative turn into a positive.
South Forsyth resident Adlen Robinson is author of “Home Matters: The Guide to Organizing Your Life and Home.” Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.