The start of a new year is a great time to start thinking about your health, wellness and fitness. By establishing a good routine early on, you can help set the tone for the next 365 days.
Start with goal setting
Everyone has different goals as it relates to their overall health. So, make sure you clearly outline what you hope to achieve. When setting health goals, you shouldn’t just put down lofty end goals — “I want to run a marathon.” Or “I want to drop 15 pounds.” Instead, focus on setting specific weekly or bi-weekly goals that will help you build momentum as you work your way to achieving your ultimate goal.1 “This week, I’m going to go running three times.” Or “I’m going to cook more vegetarian meals this month.” Be sure to track your progress, so you can see how you’re improving.
Think about what you eat and drink
So much of our health is impacted by our diet.2 In 2021, it might be time to take stock of what you’re eating and drinking. A food journal can be helpful for this, as it will make you more conscious of what you’re consuming.
If there’s one big thing to focus on nutritionally this year, it’s cutting out sugary drinks. Soft drinks, energy drinks, fruit juices and sweetened coffees are the largest sugar contributors to our diet.3 With 16% of Canadians drinking soft drinks every day, it’s time to kick our addiction.4
TIP: Make water your go-to drink for 2021. Adding a slice of lemon or lime to your water is also a great idea.
Get moving this winter
Winters in Canada can be a challenging time for exercise. And this winter, things will be even more difficult with COVID-19 impacting gyms, fitness studios, swimming pools and other workout facilities. If you can’t go to a gym or don’t feel comfortable, you can still get a great workout at home or outside. There are many fitness classes now available online, so spend a little time finding a class (yoga, bodyweight workout, spinning) and an instructor you mesh with.
Exercise outside also has many benefits, so when the weather is nice, try to go for a winter walk, hike, run, snowshoe or cross-country ski.5 The fresh air combined with the aerobic exercise will have you feeling fantastic. TIP: Always remember to dress in layers for the weather. It’s zero fun being cold when it’s below zero, but you also don’t want to overheat when you’re physically active outdoors.
Focus on your mental health
It’s so important that we all continue to focus on improving our mental health, especially after the challenges we experienced in 2020. We know that eating healthy and exercise play important roles when it comes to mental health.6 But it’s also essential to practice healthy thinking, which is all about thinking about things in a balanced way, or “looking at a situation or problem for what it really is.”6 Also, be sure you have a healthy support network in your life. This can be family, friends or professionals who you talk to.4
Continue to follow COVID-19 health guidelines
Be sure to continue to follow the latest government health guidelines for protecting yourself, your loved ones and your community against COVID-19. When outside your home, wear a mask or face covering, wash or sanitize your hands regularly, and don’t gather in large groups. This pandemic has taken its toll on everyone, but with vaccines being rolled out throughout 2021, there will be better days ahead.
How Engineers Canada-sponsored Health & Dental Insurance can help
When taking care of your health and wellness, it’s also important to include a health and dental plan. Engineers Canada sponsored plan offers its members affordable coverage for vision care, prescription drugs, dental care, physiotherapy and so much more. Be sure to consider getting coverage or adding to yours early this year. Best of luck with your 2021 health goals!
1 theguardian.com. “The six-pack can wait: how to set fitness goals you will actually keep,” January 2020.
2 cdc.gov. “Poor Nutrition,” November 2020.
3 heartandstroke.ca. “Liquid Candy: Working Together to Reduce Consumption of Sugary Drinks.”
4 statista.com. “Soft drinks in Canada - statistics & facts,” December 2020.
5 shape.com. “The Mental and Physical Health Benefits of Outdoor Workouts,” October 2020.
6 cmha.bc.ca. “Improving Mental Health,” 2020.