How to CARE for Yourself in 2021

The past year was unlike any other. According to a recent survey, 53% of Americans found themselves making more unhealthy choices toward the end of the year in an effort to feel better about the holidays being so different from years past. And56% of respondents – put off making healthy choices through the holidays in order to start fresh in the new year. The same survey found that the top new year resolutions were exercising more (26%), making healthier food decisions (25%) and focusing on self-care (21%).

As we continue to find ourselves still spending a majority of time at home, the beginning of this brand-new year will likely feel different from those of the past.  But the beginning of a new cycle can still be inspiring and there’s no better time than the present to start taking care of our minds and bodies.

To kickstart the new year in the best way possible, Susan Bowerman shares ways to C.A.R.E. for yourself in 2021:

  • C- Create smaller resolutions that are easier to achieve. Remember, a lifestyle change that leads to sustainable, lasting results takes time, so you need to celebrate the small accomplishments when you can. “Crash diets” and gym overload are not sustainable long term. For example, if your goal is to start running, don’t shoot for a marathon right away. Start with short jogs and challenge yourself by completing a 5K, 10K and so on. The incremental successes will build your physical strength, your endurance and confidence. Remember to celebrate your achievements along the way!
  • A- Adjust your recipes for healthier meals. This is an easy way to ensure you’re getting the right type of calories into your daily meals. Swap out bread or starchy items for more vegetables and aim to reduce the amount of fat or sugar in your meals. Try having fruit for dessert, switch to low fat dairy products, including plain yogurt to make sure you’re getting some probiotics in, and grill your meat instead of frying it—there are a so many ways  to tweak your recipes to be just as delicious and more healthful for you and your family.
  • R- Remember your gut. When stress or anxiety strikes, your brain sends a signal to your gut – and the next thing you know, you’ve got a churning stomach. During times when we may be feeling stressed or have anxiety, consider trying to heal from the inside out. Improve your digestive health by eating plenty of fiber from colorful fruits and vegetables and whole grains, as these foods promote the growth of good bacteria in your gut. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout the day. Herbal tea or even just hot water with lemon are great options during these winter months. Fermented foods like — yogurt, pickled vegetables, and tempeh – are also great inclusions since they provide natural probiotics that support immune health by crowding out other bacteria that can potentially make you sick.
  • E- Exercise. In addition to making sure you’re eating well, remember that physical activity is one of the best self-care remedies. Exercise helps release endorphins to improve your mood, and also gets the blood flowing which is essential for our bodies to work at their optimal levels. If you’re not ready to adopt a full-blown workout routine, start small — go for a walk, take the stairs instead of the elevator, park your car farther from the door and walk to your destination.
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If you made a New Year’s resolution to take better care of yourself this year, nothing beats balanced nutrition and exercise, which can help with weight management, too.  As you continue your journey towards a healthier lifestyle, remember to start small and increase your goals over time— you’ll be feeling fantastic sooner than you think!

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