While most of us were thrilled to leave 2020 behind, you might still be apprehensive about what 2021 has in store. And as many of us prepare to spend a long winter at home during the ongoing pandemic, it might seem like health and fitness goals will be especially hard to achieve. But even if you’re unable to go to your favorite gym or you’re continuing to bake banana bread on a regular basis, you can still set — and achieve — some health-related resolutions this year. Here are just a few tips that can help you meet your goals while still being kind to yourself.
Keep Nutritious Snacks On Hand
During the early months of the pandemic, many of us found comfort in food. Sweet and salty snacks were suddenly ubiquitous, and with very little to do but sit and watch Netflix on the couch, it’s no wonder that many of us went a bit overboard. Although one-third of homeowners change to a healthier lifestyle after remodeling their kitchen, you don’t necessarily need to renovate your home to overhaul your eating habits. When you venture out to the store in your mask, remember to stick to your list and buy snacks that are actually nutritious. Instead of potato chips and candy, explore the produce aisle and get some rice cakes, dried fruit, roasted nuts, or hummus for when the urge strikes. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with indulging every so often, you’ll probably be more inclined to pick a healthier option if that’s what’s already in the house.
Do More Cooking at Home
You might feel pressure to support some of your favorite restaurants by ordering takeout — and that’s absolutely fine to do. But cooking at home can provide you with an opportunity to have total control over what you consume and find joy in a new (or developing) skill. Though 78% of campers participate in outdoor cooking, you’ll probably stay indoors while preparing meals this winter. Still, you can venture outside your food comfort zone and take the opportunity to try out some new recipes with your slow cooker or air fryer. There are even apps that can help you figure out what to make with the contents of your fridge! Whether you participate in meal prep or you just want something simple after a long day, making a pledge to cook at home at least a few nights a week can grant you the food freedom you’ve been seeking.
Move a Bit Every Day
Going to a gym or health club may be out of the question for you right now, whether it’s out of a concern for your safety or widespread business lockdowns. Don’t assume that you can’t get your share of physical activity, however. Make it a point to go for walks around your neighborhood or take a nature hike with your partner on the weekends. You might also consider investing in a piece of home gym equipment. Even if you have only a small space to work with, there are some relatively inexpensive options that can easily fold up to save room. Cycling can lower the risk of premature death by up to 30% and it’s easy to do while you watch a show on Netflix, so that’s really a win-win. If you aren’t into conventional exercise, try out a virtual yoga class or at least do some light stretching a couple of times a day. With many people still working from home, moving your body is about more than merely losing weight.
Don’t Forget About Your Mental Health
We sometimes focus so much on physical health that we neglect our mental well-being. Your emotional health plays a huge role here and may be far more important than the number on the scale or the food in your fridge. If you’ve been putting off going to therapy, make a promise to yourself that you’ll make a virtual appointment or that you’ll at least research some teletherapy services to get the ball rolling. And if you find you’re having trouble dealing with stress and you’re turning to other unhealthy habits (like excessive drinking, binging on junk food, or entertainment escapism) to cope, you should do everything possible to reduce stress by taking breaks from work, getting outside, or catching up with a friend over video chat. Try to keep a consistent sleep schedule and reduce your use of social media, as well, if you can. While we might not have much control over the state of the world right now, you can control your state of mind.
New Year’s resolutions are never easy to keep — and in the midst of a pandemic, you might not even be inclined to set them. But many of us have realized just how important our health is, so resolutions like these can help you keep your eye on the prize. While it’s important to be patient with yourself and realistic about what’s possible, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have goals for the year. With these achievable resolutions in mind, you can make healthy progress without the usual setbacks.