A healthier lifestyle is a matter of balance

You don't need a complicated diet or exercise plan to have a healthier lifestyle.

We’re bombarded by it, especially after the holidays. Commercials, news reports, radio ads, and our dreams feature the latest diet trends. Cardboard-lite diets, cardboard-heavy diets, shakes that would make great paint for siding … the list goes on and on.

In the end, their message is the same: You can be a better you.

You can become healthier and more physically fit, and you don’t need the complicated diets and exercise plans to do it. It might be easier than you might think.

Mascoma Meadows residents walk as a group
Fitness needn't be a solo activity. Above, Mascoma Meadows residents walk (and roll) as a group.

Many of us have, at some point, been tantalized by cheap gym membership. We hit the gym for the first few weeks with resolve and eagerness to own the stationary bike, to put up hall-of-fame numbers on the elliptical, only to eventually “misplace” our motivation in the busyness of life and brush aside the $12.99 a month for one or maybe three years. Who’s counting?

It’s easy to get into the rut of staying on the couch if you can’t make it to the gym—at least it is for me. I don’t want to pack a bag, drive to the gym, stop by my favorite restaurant, then go home. But after watching Netflix for a few hours, I can feel my body becoming one with the furniture. I know I should move, at least a little bit.

This is where balance plays a key role. Health and fitness experts say walking twice a day for at least 15 minutes reduces stress and improves health. We all have at least one small chunk of time to spare during the day. What better way to use it than getting some fresh air?

Diet is another element of a healthier lifestyle. We all know Oreos are not an essential part of any diet but, if given the chance, I could eat a sleeve of them with a cold glass of milk. Removing junk food entirely from your personal food pyramid may not be entirely sustainable, but setting a limit and sticking to it can pay off.

As with exercise, you can make positive dietary changes in small steps. According to a U.S. Dept. of Agriculture study, the number of farms marketing their foods locally increased by almost 25% between 2002 and 2012, and show no signs of stopping. That means healthier alternatives to Oreos are becoming more available (and you’re supporting local farms and farmers, and conserving land, at the same time).

It’s common knowledge that improving diet and exercise can have a positive impact on sleep, stress levels, immune system, and energy. Working toward a balanced and healthy lifestyle doesn’t need to be expensive, time consuming, or stressful. It can be simple and enjoyable, especially when you get friends and family involved.

Take a few small steps away from the couch and keep the lid on the cookie jar, and you’ll be on your way toward achieving those New Year goals.

Chris Monroe is a ROC-NH™ Housing Cooperative Specialist.

← Take me to The Cooperator page

ROC-NH™ is a program of the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund, Inc. and a ROC USA® Certified Technical Assistance Provider.
ROC-NH is a registered service mark of ROC USA, LLC.