Words and Photos by: Marina Ryker
Now that you’ve put down the Christmas cookies and the flute of champagne after New Year’s Eve, it’s your chance to sit down and make a list of the healthy lifestyle changes to make in 2018.
Everyone knows making a list of New Year’s resolutions is the easy part—the big challenge is maintaining them. The majority of people don’t stick with their New Year’s resolutions, which is why you’ll need all the help you can get.
For some people, living a healthier lifestyle can mean anything from volunteering at local charities to drinking more water. This year, pick one of the following worthy resolutions, and make it a healthy habit to last a lifetime. Plus, this guide has plenty of ideas on how you can make those resolutions and commit to them through local ties in our community.
DRINK MORE WATER
Step away from the soda.
They may be delicious, but high sugar, sodium, and caffeine found in soda and other sweet beverages isn’t so great for your health. In addition to adding on the pounds, it also can cause dehydration, problems with your blood sugars, and is bad for your teeth.
You’ve probably been told to drink more water time and time again—for good reason. Your body is made up of about 60 percent water, which means drinking the stuff isn’t just about staying hydrated. It’s also critical for maintaining bodily fluids, transporting nutrients, maintaining your body temperature, and also regulating your metabolism.
There are many different opinions on how much water we should be drinking every day, but most health experts recommend drinking eight 8-ounce glasses each stay. A good way to start is by getting the first one out of the way as soon as you wake up—before the coffee or breakfast.
But the stuff tastes boring, you say? Try sprucing up your water with herbs and fruit such as cucumber, lemon, raspberries and mint—and viola, you’ve got a healthy and delicious beverage to sip all day.
Giving back has the obvious benefit of helping others, but it’s also one of the most therapeutic things you can do for yourself. There’s no shortage of causes to contribute to, whether that be financially or with your own time.
Throughout the Coastal Bend, there are dozens of nonprofits and community groups dedicated to making our community a better place for people, animals, and the environment. Help our furry friends by giving to Paws & Claws, which supports the Gulf Coast Humane Society, or support Corpus Christi’s youngest residents by donating to the Boys & Girls Club.
Even if you don’t have the cash to give, there are plenty of other ways to make a positive impact on the people and places we all know and love. Donate your time by cleaning up trash on our beaches, helping people rebuild after Hurricane Harvey, or save lives by giving blood to the Coastal Bend Blood Center.
Regardless of what causes you decide to support, you’ll help the community and feel better at the same time.
MAKE SLEEP A PRIORITY
We know the daily grind can get in the way of a healthy night’s rest, from getting the kids to sleep to leaving early for work to miss morning traffic. But, it might be time to cut out the Netflix before bed and start getting to sleep a little earlier—for your health’s sake.
Sleep plays a vital role in your health throughout all stages of your life, which means you really should try to get the eight hours medical professionals recommend. Studies show that sleep deficiency can harm activity in some parts of your brain, which means you might have trouble making decisions, solving problems, and controlling your emotions, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.
We’re all busy, but your body will thank you if you skip activities like watching TV or surfing the internet to get a full eight hours. If you have trouble getting to sleep, there’s a few tried and true tricks that include investing in blackout curtains, cooling the temperature of your room, and practicing deep breathing.Sweet dreams!
It’s 2018, which means you probably spend an overwhelming number of hours on smartphones, computers, and tablets. Even though disconnecting from the digital world can seem nearly impossible, it can be necessary to maintaining emotional and mental health.
Studies have shown that all the hours spent online could be taking away more than just your precious time. Sitting at a desk for prolonged periods of time have negative health effects, and spending too much time on social media accounts can hurt your mental or emotional health.
Of course you need these devices for work, but start by occasionally disconnecting on your personal time. Choose not to check email or social media accounts on one of your days off, or start small by logging off devices when you get home from work. Need ways to fill that digital void in your heart? Try taking a walk down Ocean Drive, take a picnic out to one of your favorite local parks, or visit places like the South Texas Botanical Gardens & Nature Center or the Museum of Science and History.
Enough with the excuses: It’s time to hit the mat.
Yoga is a total mind-body practice that offers physical, mental, and emotional benefits. Developing body awareness, increasing flexibility, and boosting strength are just some of the perks that come with moving into each pose.
This ancient practice has stood the test of time for many reasons, including helping lower stress levels and reducing body pain. Lucky for both newbies and experienced yogis and yoginis, Corpus Christi offers plenty of different styles and intensity levels for students around town.
One of the region’s most popular yoga teachers is Erica Rose Bertero, co-founder of Island Yoga Time. Bertero is working to develop 6-week programs that combine yoga, paleo diet coaching, and the perks of a support group. The program, which starts this month, will utilize Buti yoga—it’s cardio-heavy and also gives the benefits that come with the ancient practice.
“We’re pairing a physical practice with clean eating,” said Bertero.
But first timers may be little hesitant to jump into a six-week commitment, so Bertero’s studio also offers classes that are easier to get into –like yoga held at Vino Mio Social Club followed by Sunday brunch.
Feel stressed? We all spend a lot of times sitting at desks, driving in cars, and worrying about how we need to do more to pay our monthly bills.
That can be harmful to both your mental and physical health. But thankfully there’s an inexpensive fix—spending more time in nature.
Being outdoors is one of the most reliable boosts to your mental and physical well-being. Studies have found that simply being around trees can reduce amounts of stress hormones, while the benefits of getting out and about instead of sitting at a desk or in front of a TV are many.
Coastal Bend resident have few excuses –we’re lucky to live in a place where we can enjoy the outdoors year-round. You can run on the beach, take a dip in the ocean, or enjoy a plethora of other ocean activities ranging from stand-up paddling to fishing.
If you just want to relax, read a book on the beach or take a walk at sunset. Even on weekdays, take a 10-minute walk around your neighborhood. Your body and brain will thank you.
Cardio usually gets all the hype –especially around the New Year when people start running or signing up for spin classes. But people looking to get in shape—particularly women—might want to pick up a kettlebell instead.
Many women may spend their time at the gym on the treadmill or elliptical machines instead of strengthening their bodies with resistance training. Weight training can increase bone density, and can be the best defense against osteoporosis in the long term.
Getting in the weight room can be intimidating, but there are all sorts of ways to reap the benefits without ever having to step in one. If you’re nervous, hire an expert to show you how to workout. From LifeFit Personal Training Studio on the Island to Studio X in Corpus Christi, there are gyms across the Coastal Bend where you can learn how to safely increase your health and strength.
BE A SMART CONSUMER
Why wouldn’t you want to help your neighbors? Buying your groceries from local farms is one way to do that.
By purchasing your produce or meat directly from local farmers, you’re supporting human beings and the local economy—as opposed to massive factory farms or food conglomerates. The food on your dinner table comes from within 150 miles, and doesn’t require the wasted energy to ship the food across the country.
Often times, local farmers grow food in ways that are healthier for both you and the environment. Even though some farmers may choose not to go through the tedious process to become “certified organic,” they may sell fruits and veggies that are, for the most part, pesticide and herbicide free.
Lucky for residents of the Coastal Bend, there are a growing number of ways you can stock up on food staples. Aislynn Campbell, who runs Grow Local South Texas, helped start the farmer’s market downtown that runs every Wednesday from 5 to 8 PM at the Art Center of Corpus Christi.
Campbell said going the extra mile to buy food from local farmers is a win-win—better for you, and Market? Not to worry. The Island Farmer’s Market runs every other Thursday from 4 to 8 PM at Island Presbyterian Church.
EAT MORE VEGGIES
In addition to avoiding soda and juice, it’s also a good idea to stay away from frozen dinners and boxed meals. By eating fresh fruits and veggies, you get more nutrients from your food without having to spend money on supplements and vitamins.
Eating nutrient-dense foods pack more of the good stuff, but fewer empty calories. Try eating leafy greens, garlic and potatoes—especially those grown by small farmers who aim for taste, not just how long they last on grocery store shelves.
“The food you find from farmers is going to be much more nutrient dense,” said Campbell. “It hasn’t sat on a shelf; it may have only been stored a few hours.” Plus, eating more veggies means you might need to make more trips to the farmer’s market—a true win-win.
MAKE A LIST
After reading this list, write down all the reasons why you don’t think you’ll be able to accomplish healthier habits. Now, analyze each of those beliefs, and whether they’re actually true.
For example, you might say you don’t have enough time for exercising because you think it’ll take too long. Instead, start with just 10 minutes a day, which still starts a healthy habit.
Or just start small—swap out a soda every day with a glass of water. Even small tweaks can help you make big changes.
See? Looking closer at your beliefs can show the false thinking behind them. Here’s to your health and keeping those resolutions. Happy 2018!