It’s true that the COVID-19 pandemic is still presenting many uncertainties, but one thing remains true: Your health and wellness should always be a priority. If I learned anything in 2020 is that we must always be ready to adapt quickly to changing circumstances and facing new challenges.
As a professional swimmer, I learned that having a break from the pool for a couple of months wouldn’t mean that I was never going to be able to swim to my highest potential again. All that mattered was that I kept moving and kept active even if it’s from home-workouts. After six months out of the water, I was able to get back in competition shape and swimming my fastest times in no more than a month. From how the world works, learns, shops and gathers, 2020 has been about finding new ways to do ordinary things, including going to the gym and being able to find ways of staying active.
Even though we seem to be going in the right direction, no one is sure on how long these virus safety measures will need to stay in place, but it presents a perfect time to protect and improve your health while practicing social distancing. Healthy eating and a closer attention to nutrition/fitness habits is especially important for keeping your immune system in top condition. The nutrients in food enable the cells in our bodies to perform their necessary functions. Being aware of our diet and our fitness activities has become more and more important everyday.
In my opinion, the key to a successful 2021 comes down to understanding your goals and proper planning. A habit is a small decision you make and action you take every day. According to Duke University researchers, about 40% of our daily actions are due to the habits we have developed. Put another way, an individual’s life today is essentially the sum of their habits, says James Clear, the author of Atomic Habits.
I always say that in order to make any new habit easier to do, we should always start with an incredibly small new thing that isn’t reliant on motivation and willpower. Motivation comes and goes, and willpower is something that is easily exhausted as it is used throughout the day. A new habit needs to be so easy and simple that an individual can’t say “no” to doing the habit, it’s just naturally achieved.
Now, in this blog, I want to give you some tips on things to avoid this year and how to better prepare in order for you to achieve your nutrition and fitness goals!
1. Dont Stress!
Exercising is proven to reduce stress. For example, If you travel frequently for business reasons or have a busy daily lifestyle you can still exercise and stay fit. There are zero equipment workout routines designed for people in quarantine right now. Our friend and personal trainer Nick has put together a series of workouts that require no equipment and are very quick that you can checkout by clicking here. Walking around the neighborhood is also a good way to get some exercise, take in some local culture, and relax a bit before an important business meeting or online class. Having a clear mind before the meeting or class will help you display more confidence and speak clear thoughts.
When you exercise, your brain releases serotonin that helps you feel better and improves your state of mind, making the stresses of work easier to handle. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter in the brain that sends messages to the body to stimulate mood and emotion, according to Harvard Health.
2. Dodge Unhealthy Foods!
Try and plan breakfast, lunch, and dinner for at least 5-7 days. What will you serve, what ingredients do you need, what does your family usually eat on weekdays and how much of it. Consider the foods your family likes, your food preparation methods, interests and skills, and the time and energy you will have for preparing meals. Here’s a list of healthy snacks and drinks I put together in case you need some guidance on how to get started on that part.
I usually make a shopping list and use it while grocery shopping. It helps with not forgetting anything especially at times like this where we are trying to avoid leaving the house. You’ll be less likely to forget items or buy impulse items.
3. Make a Fitness Plan
Your 2021 fitness goal is just a wish if you don’t have a plan. Understanding WHY you starting a new fitness routine is key in this new process. Your goal may be to lose weight, gain muscle, reduce stress, improve cardiovascular health—or some combination of all of those. Knowing what results you want and are looking for will help you determine which types of exercise you should participate in.
The most common reason people stop a routine is because they fall out of it one day and feel like they must wait seven days to get back to the beginning again. Allow yourself some flexibility and rid yourself of all-or-nothing thinking.
4. Control What You Can Control
Like I said, making sure you set honest goals is a great part of it. In case something happens along the way, don’t panic nor lose control of the situation. One of the major things swimming has taught me is to control what I can control and not dwell on what I have zero power. If your flight is delayed and you need to break the diet by eating at the airport, or if you have an important lunch with a client at work and absolutely needs to break the diet for that, DON’T WORRY. Life has a way of throwing curveballs at you.
Maybe work gets busy, or family obligations crop up and you’re not able to exercise as much as you like. The important thing is to not quit. Just get back to your routine when you can. Or find small moments in the day to be more active. Never forget that some exercise is better than no exercise. Going on dates with your friends and family and eating at your favorite restaurant every once in a while won't kill you either. Control what you can control. Find the balance and try to stay on track as much as possible.
Identifying barriers and challenges ahead of time can be an effective way to address them before they become overwhelming. I know it can be super easy to give up on goals and new habits when life gets challenging. That’s why it’s critical to remind yourself that a day or even a week of setbacks will not ruin your path to achieving your new goals.
Remembering to always look forward by envisioning what life might look like if you stick to your new habits and make the changes necessary to live more healthfully and in line with your values and aspirations. These are the things that will keep your hope, motivation and enthusiasm for achieving your goals at a high level throughout the process of change.
Luckily, there are already healthier options of foods and drinks on the market that can help people get their essential vitamins and minerals without the extra calories from added sugar intake. Products like whole grain rice or pasta, oats, fat-free or low-fat dairy, zero-sugar yogurt are already available on any market and can drastically help with the switch to a low-sugar diet. If you ever feel like you don't have enough knowledge or time to adjust into a better nutrition schedule, I'd suggest finding a professional of that area to better help you achieve your specific goals.
People are always asking me “Where do I start?” This may sound silly – but the place you want to start is with proper hydration. If you are not getting enough water and healthy fluids than every other system in your body is affected. Your body systems will literally become sluggish if you are neglecting this simple foundation.
As I always mention, keeping your body hydrated is the bare minimum you can do to optimise mental and physical well-being. As a professional swimmer, I always have to make sure my body is at its maximum level of hydration, so I can perform at my best during everyday workouts and swim meets. Walking around with a water bottle or sports drink bottle has become part of who I am. When I go to that morning run or workout I always make sure I have a bottle of Hydra-Guard with me. Staying hydrated not only helps me to stay on top of my physical performance, but also I make sure I am always at my best mentally.
Whatever your New Year’s Resolution, a healthy and balanced diet will provide many benefits into 2021 and beyond. Products like Hydra-Guard Sports Drink also help me to make sure I have my proper amount of Vitamins and essential electrolytes to keep me healthy and active all year. One bottle has 20% the equivalent Daily Value of Calcium we need alongside with only 5g of REAL Sugar and no artificial anything.
Paul Millsap, 4x NBA All-Star and Hydra-Guard Partner has always made his nutrition and health a priority this year, which reflects his elite performance and extremely successful long career in the NBA. Paul’s ability to maintain playing at the highest level has been nothing short of amazing. It's a professional career that every athlete strives for. Hydra-Guard Sports Drink caught Paul’s attention in early 2019, when he officially partnered with them in efforts to bring the brands healthy benefits more readily available to more households across the country.
"Being a professional athlete naturally encourages me and my family to live a healthy lifestyle. Hydra-Guard Sports Drink raises the bar to unprecedented heights with its beverage innovation. It’s packed with electrolytes, and being an all natural sports drink with low sugars is a game changer, this product is changing the industry," says Paul.