It’s time to set our health goals for 2021. We all know the drill – a new year begins, we make a bunch of hollow promises to ourselves about being more healthy and improving our lives and then only keep them until the first stressful day of the year – for most of us, around the second week of January. It can leave you feeling cynical and altogether disillusioned by the idea of new year’s resolutions. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
As with many such things, the flaw is not intrinsic in the object or event itself, the problem is us. Just as a firearm can be a tool for self-defense or a weapon of genocide and a national holiday can be either a source of unity or a driver of xenophobia, the turning of the year can be a moment for renewal or simply another dreadful reminder of another year wasted. The easy part is harnessing the energy of the moment and making changes to the way you think and act. The tricky part is keeping it going.
Here are 3 powerful and sustainable health goals for 2021 and beyond.
Forget about diets
There is a massive difference between going on diet and having a good diet. In general, the latter is the one you should be focusing on. It’s true that going on a diet can help you to achieve short term goals and break an unhealthy cycle. But if you’re looking to reap the true rewards of food, both as fuel and medicine, short terms diets are not the answer.
You need to focus on finding a diet that works for you in the long term if you are to have any chance of achieving and sustaining your health goals for 2021 and beyond. For those that don’t suffer from severe allergies or health issues that need to be managed in a specific dietary way, the best diet for long term health and preventing illness is a primarily plant-based one that includes enough variety of foods for a balanced nutritional intake. If you can get your food organic, seasonal and fresh – all the better.
Treat your body like the uniquely special ecosystem it is
We like to think of our bodies as machines that must be fueled and maintained correctly. While there is certainly some value in this idea, most people that know a lot about the human body now agree that it is more comparable with an ecosystem than a mechanized one. Did you know that the mass of bacteria and other microorganisms in your body actually outweigh your own cells? In other words, you’re kind of a walking, breathing, thinking collection of trillions of microscopic creatures. Once you get over the initial disbelief (and perhaps disgust) caused by this fact, it opens up a whole new way of looking at health.
The best proof of this is in your belly. While many spiritual practices think of the heart as the ‘second brain’, modern science increasingly labels the gut this way. The gut and the brain are now known to communicate through the nervous system, hormones and the immune system. Microorganisms in the gut also help to regulate the body’s immune response and the levels of vital chemicals such as serotonin.
But while the gut gets all the attention, it’s important not to forget about the ecosystems that exist in places such as your skin, mouth and in your hair. Looking after the systems that regulate your mood, body odor and just about every aspect of your physical wellbeing is a no-brainer, excuse the pun, and a worthwhile health goal for 2021 and beyond. The age of body care in the form of sterilization is ending, long live the microbiome!
Make movement a part of your everyday life
There is now a substantial body of proof that low-intensity movements done throughout the day are key to a long and healthy life. The sedentary lifestyles we have adopted in the 21st century are killing us, and not as slowly as you might think. Luckily, it’s also an issue that is relatively easy to overcome.
- Walk or ride a bike to work or at least ditch your car whenever possible.
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
- Park at the far end of the lot or a couple of blocks away from your destination and spend the minutes you would have used finding a closer parking space to get a little bit of exercise.
- Get a standing desk
- Use a step counter
- Offer to help people with physical tasks if you feel comfortable with the level of exertion required
- Get creative – almost any everyday movement counts as low-intensity exercise
Along with trying to incorporate more frequent low-intensity movement into your life, it’s important not to forget about intentional exercise. When it comes to exercise, finding an activity you love and having a trainer or partners who can motivate and inspire you are the best ways to ensure that you achieve your health goals for 2021 and build a sustainable lifestyle moving forward.
On Heck Yeah, you can connect with qualified and experienced health & fitness pros from around the world in just about every popular activity available today. It’s the perfect place to start on your journey to healthier 2021 and beyond.