10 Easy and Green Exercise New Year’s Resolutions

No gym membership required.

Making exercise an integral part of your daily life is a New Year’s resolution that is good for you and the planet.

I doubt anyone would disagree that moving about and being active is good for your health and wellbeing. Yet, as soon as you mention the word exercise, some people (like me) begin thinking up excuses for why we cannot join a gym, sign up for a yoga class, or get up an hour earlier each workday to run before work.

If you love going to the gym, look forward to yoga class, and find running at dawn exhilarating, you have my respect and best wishes. In that case, consider reading Green Twist on 10 Healthy Eating New Year’s Resolutions or New Year’s Resolution for 2017 – Hit the Reset Button.

However, if you cringed at the word exercise and are one of those people who enjoy the challenge of choosing a New Year’s resolution and keeping it, this might be just the post for you.

Making a resolution to walk or bike to and from school or work is an excellent carbon-free way to get exercise, even if you do it just part of the time. Nevertheless, you may not be able to or willing to make that kind of a commitment this year. Fortunately, other easy options are available that will help you get more exercise.

For me, and perhaps for you, the key to moving around and being more active is to make it part of my normal day, not something extra to do.

10 Easy and Environmentally Friendly Exercise New Year’s Resolutions

The ten thought starters below are intended to assist you with determining an easy and green exercise New Year’s resolution.

Ten-Minute Tidy Up

Spending ten minutes each day picking up stuff and putting it where it belongs has two benefits. It gets you moving and it is a painless way to tidy up your home. If there is not much to pick up, consider wiping off the kitchen counter or even cleaning a toilet. Once you get in the habit of doing this, you might be surprised at how clean and tidy you can make your home in just ten minutes a day.

This is a good activity to involve kids in, too. When our kids were young, we did a daily ten-minute toy pick up. This not only kept our house more organized it helped our kids learn to be responsible for their toys. Even toddlers can help if you give them a hand.

Walk and Talk

If you normally sit while talking on the phone, consider walking around while doing it (if you can do it safely).

Bring Your Own Lunch

Consider the multiple advantages of bringing your own lunch to work (in reusable containers). You will know what is in your food, you will not waste time driving to a restaurant and waiting for your food to arrive at your car window or table, and you will likely save tens of thousands of dollars during your working life.

Women Walking in a ParkYou will now have time for walking to run an errand, to a park, or around the office or grounds where you work. Better yet, walk to a park or another outdoor space soaking up some vitamin D along the way and then eat your lunch. Help your coworkers get on the move by asking them to join you.

Meet for a Walk

Instead of meeting a friend for coffee at a coffee shop, mix it up and meet for a walk. Bring coffee with you in a reusable travel mug to sip while you chat and walk.

Run Errands on Foot

Chances are that there is at least one place you frequent that is within easy walking distance of your home or place of work like a restaurant, pharmacy, grocery store, post office, or library. Select one place to begin walking to or make a commitment to walk to run an errand at least once a week.

Park in the North Forty

Full Parking LotThe term north forty often refers to a remote patch of land on a farm or ranch but I think it translates well to parking. An easy way you can add more walking to your day is to park in the far corner of a parking lot or parking garage or down the street from your destination.

Take a Commercial Break

There are usually at least three or four commercial breaks during an hour-long television show and a 3-hour football game has even more. These are built-in opportunities to get up and walk around for a few minutes. When you are watching ad-free media, make a point of either pausing in the middle or getting up and walking around between shows or movies.

Hold a Walking Meeting

How many hours have you spent sitting in conference rooms for short meetings with only a few people? Why not hold a walking meeting instead (if you can do it safely). Mobile devices make it easy to look up things and take notes while you are on the move.

Set a Timer

Finger with Red Ribbon Tied Around ItI got this idea from one of my sons. He is a programmer and a gamemaster who spends a fair amount of time in front of multiple screens so he sets a timer on his smartphone to remind him periodically to get up and walk around. Many experts say that getting up and stepping away is not only good for your body but stimulates your brain as well.

The timer method will work for just about any sedentary job that allows you to leave your work area briefly as well as when you are sitting at home reading a book or watching a movie.

Walk with Your Kids

If you have the time and ability to walk your kids to and from school, that is terrific. If you do not, then make a point of walking with your kids at other times to get them in the habit of walking as a means of getting about and for pleasure. You can walk to a store to get supplies for an art project at school or take a hike during the weekend.

When our kids were young, we frequently took short walks before or after dinner. It took about ten minutes to walk around our block and if we were feeling ambitious, we would take a double-block walk. On the weekends, we hiked in the hills near our neighborhood.

My 2019 New Year’s Resolution

Initially, I was thinking about choosing my son’s “set a timer” idea for my 2019 New Year’s resolution, but I have already adopted it. While writing this morning, my smartphone has already dinged quietly 6 times and I have gotten up and walked around, gone up and down the stairs, and unloaded the dishwasher.

Last year I toyed with the idea of a resolution involving sugar but I ended up opting to digitize our financial records, which I did do. Sugar is still on my mind so I decided to write at least one post about the environmental impact of sugar for my 2019 New Year’s resolution. To keep myself on track I established a few milestones.

  • By January 31 – watch the documentary Sugar Coated again (for inspiration).
  • By April 30 – complete enough research to have adequate material for at least one post.
  • By June 30 – write and publish at least one post.

Footsteps Leading to the Word GoalNow, I hope you are ready to pick one of the above easy and green exercise ideas for your New Year’s resolution or come up with your own. Your best chance for success is to choose something you actually want to do and to be specific so that you will know when you have completed your resolution.

Happy New Year!

Featured Image at Top: Two Potatoes Sitting on a Red Couch – Photo Credit iStock/CHRISsadowski

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The Secret to Making Healthy Eating Easy

Reusable Shopping Bag Filled with Healthy FoodEating a healthy diet contributes to your physical and mental wellbeing and is good for the planet too. The trick is actually eating a healthy diet.

While reading about diet and nutrition I was struck by the plethora of advice telling me what to eat when, how to eat, and what foods I must banish from my fridge and pantry.

These recommendations seemed to make eating about deprivation, schedules, and rules. After deciding to ignore this negative advice, I felt relieved and able to focus on giving my diet a healthy makeover and sometimes splurging without feeling guilty.

My story about gaining weight, transitioning to a healthier diet, and choosing more environmentally friendly foods and beverages began in the post, A Healthy Diet is Good for You and the Planet.

In this post, I will share what worked for me and might work for you. These ideas are simple and free (except for the pedometer).

A Healthy Diet is Forever

The reason to eat a healthy diet is, um, to be healthy. It requires a lifelong commitment. I did not really get the lifelong commitment thing until after a few months of trial and error. Once I realized and accepted that I needed to make changes I could live with forever, I knew I was on the right path.

Information is Important

Stack of Chocolate Bar SquaresReading a variety of books taught me how food works in my body and broadened my perspective to include the environmental and ethical aspects of food. Over a period of months, I learned how many calories were in the food I was eating and how many I was working off by walking, doing yard work, cleaning house, etc.

Now, I can make more informed choices. For instance, my favorite chocolate bar contains almost as many calories as a small meal so if I want to eat my candy car and maintain a healthy weight, I need to eat fewer calories at some meals throughout the week.

Calories In vs. Calories Out

Fortunately, I have a realistic approach to exercise, meaning I know you actually have to do it to get the benefit.

After putting off joining a local gym for months, I admitted to myself that I did not want to have to change my clothes and go to a gym to work out. My exercise solution is to walk and work in my yard. Wearing a pedometer helps me track my steps and calories burned, which is a fun way to make sure I am getting enough exercise.

Food and Exercise Journal

Recording what I eat and drink and how much exercise I do helps me measure how many calories I take in and expend each day, but more importantly, it keeps me accountable to myself. It is crucial, to be honest, and record everything, including a handful of jellybeans.

One of the benefits of an online journal is that websites and apps offer huge databases of calorie, nutrition, and exercise information and allow users to add their own food, drink, and exercises. I use a free smartphone app called MyFitnessPal.

U-Turns

Perhaps the most valuable concept I have read in any book is the notion of making a U-turn from You on a Diet.

Yellow U-Turn SignHere is the scenario. Your healthy eating plan is going okay until you eat an entire half-gallon of ice cream or a whole pizza in one sitting. You immediately deem yourself a failure and give up, sound familiar?

In the U-turn scenario, instead of beating yourself up for making an unhealthy food choice or overindulging, you give yourself permission to make a U-turn and get back on track.

Making a U-turn is a simple yet powerful idea that I have employed many times on my healthy eating journey.

Not in My House

Diet and nutrition books devote a fair amount of page real estate to strategies they claim will help you overcome your lack of willpower, such as eating foods that help you feel full, controlling portion sizes, and closing your kitchen at 8:00 p.m. These are not necessarily bad ideas, but they require a certain amount of regimentation and yes, willpower.

We still live in bodies suited to the feast or famine days of our ancestors, when fat, salt, and sugar was rare, thus we craved it. Unfortunately, nowadays, these substances are readily available and in large quantities in many of the foods and beverages available at grocery markets, convenience stores, and restaurants.

Stack of Ginger Snap CookiesAs I attempted to transition to a healthier diet, my greatest struggle was the battle between my willpower and my ancestry. For instance, I would purchase a box of salty crackers or honey-roasted nuts and attempt to portion them out. This went well for a day or two, but then I would scarf down the rest. One ginger snap cookie led to a handful. I could hear chocolate bars calling me from the pantry. You get the picture.

Fortunately, I had learned early on about making U-turns so I was not defeated, but the issue remained unsolved.

My Aha Moment

My “aha” moment came when I decided to give up battling my willpower and try a new strategy, not bringing my danger foods into the house, except occasionally.

If it is not in the house, I cannot eat it. It is simple and it works!

I am most likely to have a yen for a salty or sweet snack at night, but now since we do not keep stuff like in the house, I do not need any willpower. On the rare occasion that I am actually hungry, I cut up a piece of fruit or eat a handful of nuts or raisins.

It took me a few months to adopt the “not in my house” strategy because instead of going all in I made incremental adjustments like purchasing a smaller box of crackers or only two chocolate bars. I finally admitted to myself this tactic was not working, so I stopped buying and bringing my danger foods into the house.

For me, it takes far less willpower to avoid buying stuff at the store than it does to not eat it once it is in the house. Sure, I know I can hop in my car and go buy whatever I might be craving, but I do not because it is just not worth it.

Since I believe deprivation is not successful over the long run and because I am a chocolate lover, I indulge in a weekly chocolate bar (a really good one) but I only buy one.

Woman Wearing Tennis Shoes Walking on a TrailI feel healthy and well and completely committed to eating a healthy diet for the rest of my life. If you are trying to get on a healthier eating path, I hope one or more of the ideas above will help you too. Please share your ideas and tips with other readers.

Bon Appétit.

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Diet, Nutrition, and Food Industry Book List

A list of my ten favorite books and a couple of videos is included in the post, A Healthy Diet is Good for You and the Planet.