Health Features

A Better 2021

It’s time to start thinking about your New Year’s health resolutions, but why not take the process a step further in 2021? Don’t just focus on one area of your physical self that you would like to transform; instead, take a comprehensive approach to improving your health from the inside out. Your body will thank you for it.

your diet
Washington University primary care physician Dr. Jenny Schmidt says keeping proper diet top of mind is one way to enjoy better health in the new year. “Start your day with healthful proteins,” she advises. “They take longer to digest, so you will feel fuller and snack less. You also can be more productive during the day because you’re not craving empty calories.” She says avocado, hummus and nuts are good sources to start with.

She recommends homing in on colorful, whole, fresh, natural foods at the supermarket. “Eat fruit whole as often as you can; juicing it tends to remove a lot of the dietary fiber that is beneficial for your gut health,” she adds. And if you consume carbs, it’s best to choose whole grains and items that have more color, she says. For example, pass up white bread in favor of a darker whole-grain loaf with nuts and seeds.

Smart substitution is another important aspect of a good diet, according to Schmidt. “If you normally eat celery with hummus as a snack, consider switching the vegetable to fresh green beans or bell peppers for better nutrition,” she says. “If you eat salads often, trade in your iceberg lettuce for colorful mixed greens or spinach. You will get more benefit with each bite but still be able to enjoy what you eat. You don’t have to completely overhaul your diet going into the new year; just start with items that contain more nutrients.”

your body
Your muscles, bones, joints and other tissues deserve some love in the new year as well, says Amy Lescher, fitness director at TruFusion St. Louis. “Instead of pressuring yourself into an intense workout plan at the beginning of the year, find something to inspire yourself with first, like an encouraging quote of the day or regular journaling,” she suggests. “Set a positive attitude going forward, and then schedule your workouts—not fast and furious, but slow and consistent.”

Proper priorities are another key component of a successful workout strategy. “Consider how exercise makes you feel mentally and physically,” Lescher says. “Feeling good in the long term is more important than looking good, and if you focus on that, you won’t have to worry about success in the new year because better habits will become second nature.”

Lescher says running, walking and home workouts are simple ways to accomplish fitness goals in 2021. Pushups, situps and lunges are helpful additions. “Go back to the basics,” she advises. “You want to be able to stabilize your joints and move your body weight, then layer in strength exercises with weights and circle bands.” If you’re working from home, take a body break every hour or so. Even choosing a standing workstation and taking the stairs when you enter a building can help with circulation, mental acuity and physical stability.

your skin
Jackie Carr, RN, ANP-BC, a licensed esthetician and owner of Pur-One MediSpa, says her No. 1 suggestion for healthier skin is year-round sun protection to reduce the risk of skin cancer. “The best UV and anti-aging solution is a broad-spectrum SPF product with zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide,” she says. “Use it every day, even when the weather is cloudy or rainy. Prevention is key.”

Carr also recommends a high-quality vitamin C serum like SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic to fight the free radicals encountered by your skin on a daily basis. “It can help with fine lines, wrinkles and firmness as well,” she says. And if you need additional advice on keeping your skin healthy in the new year, it always makes sense to consult a skin care professional.

More skin health tips

  1. Cleanse gently. Stay away from strong soaps that can strip your skin of natural oils. Pat it dry instead of wiping so some moisture remains.
  2. Moisturize regularly. Use a product designed for your skin type.
  3. Don’t smoke. Smoking damages collagen and elastin in your skin, ages it prematurely and increases your risk of squamous cell skin cancer.
  4. Eat natural foods. The same nutritional advice that applies for the rest of your body holds true for your skin.
  5. Drink water. Hydrated skin is happier skin.
  6. Minimize stress. It can contribute to acne breakouts and other skin problems.
  7. Get proper, regular sleep. This will help with No. 6.

Source: Mayo Clinic