An Easy-to-Remember Goal for the New Year

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A U.S. Army soldier does a push-up during the All-American Challenge.
A U.S. Army soldier does a push-up during the All-American Challenge, Jan. 3, 2018, at Sunset Station in San Antonio. (Sgt. Ian Valley, 345th Public Affairs Detachment/U.S. Army photo)

Moving into the new year, many look for ways to get serious again about things they either need to stop (bad habits) or things they need to do better (good habits).

Here is a quick-and-easy mantra to help you maintain discipline for exercising, eating better (and less), sleeping better and learning ways to mitigate stress.

Move More, Eat Less, Sleep Better, Less Stress

Move more. Get moving again with a beginner workout plan. Sometimes, it is a good idea to treat yourself like a beginner if you have gone too long between workouts. Even if moving more means walking, do it daily. If you cannot carve a 45-minute time block into your day, try breaking it up into 15-minute blocks that can be done after meals throughout the day or on a work break.

Eat less. If weight loss is your goal, eating better foods is the ideal, but eating smaller portions is just as important. Reducing your daily intake of calories can be tricky, but do not starve yourself. Take note of all the food and drink you consume each day for a week, and figure out what you need to reduce (snacks, cookies, sugar drinks, etc.).

Sleep better. We have discussed the importance of sleep over the years. You need it to recover from hard workouts, stressful work days and other stresses we encounter. Create a calm and soothing environment before bedtime and practice rituals/good habits. Remember, sleep is the number one recovery tool we have.

Less stress. The three elements of better health listed above are critical to creating a way the body can burn off naturally, metabolize and recover from stress. This will make stress manageable before it overflows into a complete physical, mental or emotional breakdown.

Learn stress-reducing skills, such as box breathing in which you inhale for four seconds, hold for four seconds, exhale for four seconds, hold for four seconds. Repeat multiple times when feeling anxious or stressed out and even before you go to sleep.

Think of physical, mental and emotional stresses of life as one side of a balance scale. Exercise, nutrition and recovery/sleep are on the other side. When any of these are out of whack, the stress levels can increase to a point where there is little to no recovery. The snowball can get bigger and bigger until stress is chronic.

Good luck this year and take this opportunity for a fresh start. Build good habits, break bad habits and get disciplined doing the things that will make you feel and perform better. You may even see healthier blood screening numbers.

"Move more, eat less, sleep better, less stress" when spoken daily might be just the motivation you need to keep moving toward any or all of the elements of health.

Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Visit his Fitness eBook store if you’re looking to start a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle. Send your fitness questions to stew@stewsmith.com.

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