Now that we are a month into the New Year, the question I love to ask my friends is, "How are those New Year resolutions going?" Typically, that comment comes with a smirk and a belly laugh.
I see many of my friends resolving to lose weight based on a new fad diet that never seems to pan out. Personally, I don't focus as much on making new resolutions; rather, I focus on renewing my commitments and learning something new to apply to my life. For me, eating clean and living healthy continue to evolve. In 2014, I will read more labels, I will do more research, and I will alter my diet based on the fitness and life goals I'm trying to achieve as things change.
All that said, I started growing more of my own food over the last few years and I really enjoy it. It's a lifestyle decision and it affords me the opportunity to appreciate the process: I feel healthier eating fresh herbs and vegetables because I know where the food is coming from and how it was grown. It's extremely rewarding, not to mention everything I eat straight from the garden tastes so much better.
So, with that, I'm sharing my five tips and recommendations with you and hopefully a few of my friends will read along.
- Really, truly exercise: If you go to the gym and walk the track or treadmill, barely lift weights or sit on a stationary bike and make phone calls, play games or text, then you really aren't exercising. Invigorate your body, stretch your limits and really put in some effort to get to a healthier you. If you are committing to a healthy lifestyle, motivate yourself to really workout. An hour workout helps, but it's the next 23 hours in the day that can really make or break how you feel. That's what makes how you fuel your body so important.
- Learn about clean eating: Take the time to understand the principles behind clean eating. In short, it's about eating things that are in their truest and most original form. Try to get as far away as possible from foods that are heavily processed, injected with antibiotics and hormones, or doused with preservatives and additives. Focus on whole foods and things with simple, easy-to-pronounce ingredients.
- Garden simply: Lettuces, greens and herbs are just a few plants you can grow indoors from seed and they can be moved outdoors once the weather warms up. Start your tomatoes and peppers indoors to get an early jump on fresh food you get to enjoy this spring. Get a garden starter kit, get some seeds and get growing. It's very easy. Plus, when the little sprouts start popping up through the soil even the manliest of men get excited. And it only gets better come harvest time.
- Garden small: Every garden counts, no matter how small. You don't need a huge yard to grow your own. If nothing else, plant a container, balcony or window herb garden for cooking or making salads. Chopping up fresh cilantro, basil or thyme and adding them to a dish is life-changing. Yeah, it sounds like I'm exaggerating, but if you've ever been to Italy you know what I'm talking about. Back in my late 20s, my wife and I went to Italy for 10 days and had some of the best meals of our lives. Everything was fresh, delicious and extremely healthy, full of flavors I had never experienced before. As I was growing up, I usually ate highly processed, boxed, bagged, canned and frozen meals and didn't know what flavor meant until that trip. Do yourself a favor and start small. Even if you begin with starter plants vs. seeds, you'll be in for a treat and it can really motivate a lifestyle change.
- Share your harvest: Like most of us, we see tiny plants in a bed and think we've not planted enough for our needs. Then comes a successful harvest and you suddenly have more basil, tomatoes or lettuce than you know what to do with, so share the bounty. You may even get some of your friends and family enjoying a healthier lifestyle because of it.
There's plenty of other things that can help you throughout the New Year, like sleeping more and cutting out alcohol, but, honestly, I should not be the one to give that advice. I would love to tell you to sleep at least eight hours a night, but I'm an entrepreneur and barely sleep, so I can't follow that advice myself. I'm social and network often and happy hours tend to be par for the course, so I enjoy my libations as well.
So there you have it, certainly not a full list or, dare I suggest, professional advice, but it's what's helped me become a better, healthier and happier person over the last few years as I entered my 40s. In fact, I look and feel healthier now than I have in years. Good luck with your (re)newed resolutions!