Photo by Alexandra Gorn on Unsplash
When the New Year rolls around, many of us resolve to become healthier, whether that means we watch our nutritional intake, begin an exercise regimen or pursue other paths to better health. Sometimes, in our efforts to live more healthily, we as people go too big too soon and find ourselves breaking our resolutions. As such, I grew curious as to how I could become a healthier Nate during 2020 by pursuing relatively small goals that could lead to a sizable difference. To that end, I asked friends of mine who are professional fitness trainers, sports coaches and nutritionists to give me some tips, and now I am sharing an assortment of their recommendations to you. None of them are extreme "do this exercise program" or "follow this specific diet." I'm not a medical professional, nor will I pretend to be one. No, no, these are just five simple suggestions to keep in mind if you are wanting to be a healthier you. Not all may be applicable to your personal goals, and that's fine. Trust your gut, consult your doctor, and take or leave these tips as you see fit.
- Sleep. We all get busy with life at times and find ourselves getting less sleep than we ought to have. I know I do. You know you do, too. While it may seem easy to simply drink some coffee in the morning and push through, not getting enough sleep can affect your physical and mental health in various ways. Sleep helps with somatic recovery and hormone regulation, and you just may find yourself a bit more chipper in the morning if you find ways to have a more consistently adequate sleep schedule.
- Hydrate. Adult humans' bodies are 60% water and their blood 90%. As such, hydration is incredibly important. Drinking water lubricates the joints, delivers oxygen throughout the body, regulates body temperature, flushes bodily waste, maintains blood pressure, helps prevent kidney damage and more. Therefore, replacing some of our daily beverages with water or simply adding more water to our regular intake can help our bodies function better.
- Practice portion control. Most of us are aware of what foods are healthier than others. Some of us may eat healthy foods on a regular basis but still find ourselves at undesirable body weights and the like. For me, one of my issues is that I love healthy food ... too much. I find myself overeating a bunch, and that is something that should be more easily managed. I know when my body has had enough sustenance to last until my next meal. Thus, for 2020, I am resolving to cut back on how much I eat per meal so that I am actually content with being only "content," rather than "full."
- When exercising, start small. My friend Kristin Wikstrom, the track coach for Lakewood Ranch High School in Bradenton, Fla., says starting small is vital to her budding athletes' health. She recommends any increase in workout regimens being no more than 10% at one time, as doing so helps prevent injury and allows the body to gradually adjust to the increased changes—a tip she learned from her own coaches during her days running track at the collegiate level.
- Don't go at it alone. Finding a partner or a group of like-minded individuals can help you stay with whatever health habits you are pursuing. Consistency is key and having others who are willing to hold you accountable can help you maintain it. And with any luck, you will be able to return the favor by keeping your partner or group accountable as well. This creates a cycle of building each other up, and that encouragement could help tip the scales in your efforts.