A Healthy Approach to a New Year

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Alexa Smith, Staff Writer

With the New Year rolling in, many people share in the common goal of adding “getting in shape” to their list of resolutions for the new year, but most don’t actually know where to start to accomplish this goal. Whether you want to get in shape, lose weight, or stay healthy, it is important to start with a positive mental approach. It is essential to envision your success and believe that with a plan and hard work you can achieve your goals. Try to avoid detrimental thoughts that self destruct like “I’ll never lose weight” and cheer yourself on instead. This will help to speed up the process as well as maintain a healthy mind while creating a healthier body. Keeping a journal or planner might also help organize your workouts, eating habits, and thoughts to ease the process. 

Next it’s important to create a plan for yourself and encourage yourself to stay consistent with your workouts and eating plans. When trying to eat healthier, Forbes explains that it’s best to avoid heavily processed foods, as well as sugary drinks, and foods like sodas and candy. Starches or carbs, are also important to keep watch of because when you cut out the sugars and processed starches, your hunger levels decrease. This results in you eating less and instead of burning carbs your body starts burning off excess fat, causing you to lose weight. Make sure to eat protein to boost your metabolism and reduce cravings. Vegetables like broccoli, tomatoes, spinach, lettuce and cucumber are particularly good.

To start the workout process, Planet Fitness states that you’ll want to eat something high in protein or carbs and low in fat about three hours before you workout. Some good examples would be whole grain toast with peanut butter and bananas, a protein smoothie, vegetables, or eggs. For weight loss efforts, it’s important to pack your workouts with cardio like running, cycling, or swimming for 30 minutes to an hour daily. This will help to burn excess calories so you can focus on gaining muscle after reducing body fat. If your goal is to gain core strength then these ab workouts can be vital to your routine: sit-ups, flutter kicks, leg raises, cycling crunches, knee crunches, leg pull-ins, and various planks. With arm strength, you want to start with a weight you’re most comfortable with and work your way up to heavier weights over time. Some important arm exercises include: bicep curls, tricep extensions, shoulder press, and upright rows.

For a lower body focus there are plenty of fun and quick exercises to build up those glutes, quads and calves. Starting with the glutes, squats are very important in gaining this muscle but you want to make sure you’re doing them correctly. Real Simple explains that you’ll want to begin by standing with your feet a little wider than hip width and then drive your hips back while keeping your feet planted and your chest up and shoulders back. Make sure your knees are aligned with your feet and strive for a 90° angle at the knees. Barbell squats, dumbbell lunges, leg press, and standing calf raises are all super good for building that all-over lower body strength. During your exercises and throughout your day make sure to stay hydrated to maintain proper bodily functions and carry nutrients to your cells. If you ever find yourself struggling to stay consistent with your goal or flooded by negative thoughts, remind yourself of your “why”. Remind yourself you can do anything you put your mind to. It is also important to reach out for professional help as well to stay safe during the process.