By Dr. Stephanie A. Garcia 

Three weeks and two dozen tamales later; 2020 has officially begun! But I bet the excitement of beginning a new decade is eclipsed by the ever-increasing tightness in those new jeans you bought just before Thanksgiving at Tia Amelia’s house. It’s all good, we got you!  Here are five easy ways to stay on track with your health and fitness this year and well, for the rest of your life! 

  1. Water- A lot of it!

This is no new concept. For years, health professionals worldwide have stressed the benefits that come from drinking water regularly. While not everyone needs the same amount per day, The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine recommends that women aim for 2.7 liters and men 3.7 liters. But why so much? Well, for starters water helps support your immune system, keeping your body temperature in check. Water also adds lubrication and cushion to joints, ensuring that we can keep up with our kids no matter what the agenda calls for. Feeling bloated from all the botana at lunch? Water can help flush your system and increase waste release from your body. 

All that sounds great but how can I do it? Easy! Invest in a reusable water jug; aim for a 64 oz size or larger. Always carry your water with you– all the time no matter what! When you sip, count to five. Doing this will increase your water intake effortlessly!! Drink water before two out of three meals per day (before, not after or during). Let lunch be the time you reach for the iced tea, but make water your thirst quencher before breakfast and dinner to help manage your appetite! . 

  1. Routine Exercise- Of any kind

Exercise is a vital part of healthy living. Finding the time however, is harder than the actual workout itself. Here are some tips for implementing exercise throughout your day: 

  1. 10 squats during each restroom visit. Sounds funny, but it works! By the end of your day, you might have racked up 100 squats! That booty will bepoppinin no time!   
  2. Park further away from the entrance. Do this at work, the grocery store, wherever and whenever possible. The more steps, the more calories you burn!
  3. Go outside. Find things to work on in the yard like cutting the grass or pulling weeds. Whatever it is, staying active outdoors is not only going to help you burn calories, but also bring you mental clarity and relaxation.
  4. Buddy Up! Find a workout partner or running buddy. Don’t know anyone who likes to workout? Join a gym class or local running or cycling club!
  5. Add it to Your To-Do List. Make exercise a priority and cross it off as you complete it. Exercising a fewtimesa week will do wonders to your cardiovascular system and mental state. When we feel good we look good and who doesn’t want that?

         3. Me Time- It’s Okay to Detach 

Life pulls us in so many directions every day. Spouses, partners, kids, work, friends, school, finances, you name it, we stress over it. Mental health is often a neglected. We don’t value or prioritize it the same way we do physical health. According to The National Alliance of Mental Illness, 43 million adults will experience some form of mental illness in a given year, with depression being the leading cause of disability worldwide. It’s time to take action! This is where “me time” comes into play. This is when we detach from the world at least once a week, for a few hours a day and do WHATEVER we want. Taking a long walk through the park, a solo shopping trip to the mall, or a relaxing day at the spa can all help alleviate everyday stress. Cutting out social media for a day or even a weekend can dramatically improve your mental state as well. Whatever the case, taking time for yourself is not self-fish, it’s necessary. 

  1. Positivity- In all aspects of your life

 When you think positive, positive things happen right? Well not always. We all get down from time to time, it’s natural; however staying down is not. Try doing the following for one week and see how your mindset changes: 

  1. Start your day with a motivational quote or scripture. Read it before you get out of bed. This will set the tone for the day.
  2. On the drive to work or school, turn the radio off for a few minutes and meditate with the scenery around you. Think about the quote you read and let it put you in a positive state of mind.
  3. Don’t feed into the drama. If someone at work stops by to tell you the latest gossip, let it flow in one ear and out the other. Don’t make other people’s lives part of your own!
  4. Be a blessing to someone today. Remember, it’s not all about good things happening to us, it’s also about making good things happen for others.  
  5. At the end of the day, write down three good things that happened. Big or small, it doesn’t matter! Writing down and reflecting on these positive occurrences is preparing you to start the next day on the right foot!
  6. Indulge- With caution

You’ve been on point lately with your diet and workouts. Your clothes are fitting better and your attitude is straight up positive! Good things are happening, but then abuelita calls and invites you to dinner. She made those enchiladas with extra cheese that you so desperately love. How can you tell her no? Easy, don’t! Please know that it’s OKAY to indulge every now and then. Actually, make this a routine. One ‘bad’ meal a week will not undo all of the hard work you put in the rest of the time. You earned it, now eat it! 

Creating a healthy regimen is not always easy. It takes dedication, preparation, and most of all motivation. As always, be sure to consult with your doctor before trying anything new that affects your health. Following these steps is a great starting point for creating a healthy way of living for the new year and hey, for a new life! Best of luck! 

Photo by Luis Quintero on Unsplash

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