If your health hasn't been top priority since last March, you're not the only one. COVID-19 stay-at-home orders resulted in a drastic rise in unhealthy lifestyle changes, according to a recent report based on a global online survey. The survey found significant rises in sedentary habits, reductions in physical activity, and increases in anxiety and weight gain.
Sound familiar? If this is you, don't be too hard on yourself. It's a once-in-a-lifetime event we’ve been going through, and you're allowed to cut yourself some slack. That said, you have more control over your long-term health goals than you think. So whether you want to lose weight, have more energy, or banish that pesky “brain fog,” here are some ways you can kick-start your health goals this spring.
Start with the food you eat.
You knew this one was coming! You can't go wrong with a balanced diet containing a range of unrefined carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, focusing on fruits, whole grains, and healthy oils. Foods like candy and other simple sugars provide a fast boost of energy, while others (like whole grains and healthy unsaturated fats) space out the reserves to help you get through the day.
Make an effort to exercise.
What's good for the heart is also good for the mind since your brain receives up to 40% of the blood that comes from your heart. It's tricky for your brain to get the oxygen-rich blood it needs for proper memory function and alertness if your heart isn't getting that blood moving, and that's where your running shoes come in!
Exercising also lifts your mood and decreases stress, making it a great way to banish those cobwebs.
Now you know what to do to get your mind and body into shape this spring. Did we ever mention just how well our pulses can supercharge your healthy lifestyle? Here are some reasons why:
You'll feel fuller for longer. Foods with a low glycemic index (GI) and a low glycemic load (GL) can regulate your appetite and delay hunger. Dry peas, lentils, and chickpeas have up to three times the GL of a bagel or rice, so start eating more pulses to curb those mid-afternoon cravings!
Pulses have protein for days. Lentils have the same amount of protein as a steak with less than 10% of the fat! A half-cup of these pulses contains nine grams of protein and eight grams of fiber, which is nearly a third of your daily recommended amount!
They could keep you on the treadmill for longer. Though pulses are low in calories, they are high in complex carbohydrates and fiber, which means they digest slowly and provide a feeling of fullness. Pulses provide a constant, slow-burning source of energy, and their iron content aids in the transportation of oxygen in the body, boosting energy production and metabolism.
We've been through a lot this past year, but remember this:
Winter is over..
Vaccines are on their way.
You're probably planning your next beach vacation.
There's light at the end of this very long tunnel, and now is a great time to get your health goals in order so you can take full advantage!