March is National Nutrition Month, a great time to focus on physical fitness and eating healthy food. Many of us struggle to maintain our ideal weight, even though we know it would reduce our risk of chronic illness such as heart disease and diabetes. We’re busy and let’s face it, getting in shape is hard work.
The whole idea for National Nutrition Month started in 1973, when it was a week-long event with the theme “Invest in Yourself – Buy Nutrition.” Since 1980, the focus on nutrition has been a month-long event, and this year’s theme is “Bite into a Healthy Lifestyle.”
Taking charge of your health contributes to overall well-being; not just physical health. When you start eating healthier and getting some exercise, you get the benefits of feeling better AND feeling proud of yourself. Your self-esteem improves.
You don’t have to become a health nut, exercising all the time and only eating perfectly balanced portions. This is a marathon, not a sprint, and it is amazing how little shifts can add up to significant differences. If you really want this to work, consider embarking on a new fitness program with a friend or colleague, because it’s one thing to skip a walk on your own, but it’s another when you know you’re letting your friend down.
Another strategy to kick start healthier habits is to bet someone you can stick with your new plan for three months. Make sure your plan is realistic. Don’t promise to exercise every day and eliminate all sugar from your diet. Instead, commit to three 30-minute walks a week and if you are a daily soda drinker, replace soda with water Monday – Thursday.
Habits (good and bad) don’t take hold overnight. Research shows that to form a habit, you have to reinforce the behavior for at least six weeks, so make sure you keep at it. The hardest part is the beginning.
While you certainly don’t need to join a gym to get healthy, it can be nice to have a fitness class with an instructor who encourages and supports you; from aerobics to Zumba to kick-boxing to yoga, there are fitness classes for every fitness level and personality.
If you’re not sure how to put together healthy meals, go online and search “healthy meals.” You will be inundated with options. In less than a minute I found this link: http://greatist.com/eat/10-minute-recipes. The key is to start. Set small, achievable goals and take one step at a time (literally).