Prairie fare: Set a health goal for 2021

Julie Garden-Robinson
NDSU Extension Food and Nutrition Specialist

As we all experienced, 2020 was a year for the history books in many ways.

In October of 2020, we had an unseasonably early storm. The snow blanketed the region with several inches of snow, which melted to form a layer of ice.

I recall walking like a penguin to put my work bag and other items in the car at 7 a.m. that fateful morning. My husband followed me out the door. I heard some commotion behind me and turned to see my husband flipping backward on the ice.

He seemed to be moving in slow motion. By the sounds he emitted, I knew this was not just an annoying slip.

His arm was hanging awkwardly by his side when he managed to stand upright. Long story short, he had major shoulder repair surgery followed by ongoing physical and occupational therapy.

Even worse (for me, anyway): I have to shovel the snow this winter or find someone to do it. However, I would rather shovel snow than endure my husband’s recovery process.

Fortunately, we did not have measurable snow from October through most of December.

We bought “cleats” to strap on our shoes or boots and help us navigate the ice in 2021.

Winter can be hazardous to our health in many ways. If you are the shoveler, be sure to warm up your muscles by walking in place and stretching your arms and muscles. You might want to do your warmups in the house away from the ice.

And here’s some more advice:

  • Dress in layers, with polypropylene as the inner layer. Your outer layer should be wind resistant.
  • Avoid caffeine or nicotine before beginning outdoor activity. These stimulants increase your heart rate.
  • Drink plenty of fluids. Dehydration can be as big an issue in the winter as in the summer.

Let’s look forward to 2021. On the bright side, I should be stronger and in better shape with my upcoming snow removal. Do you have a goal or two for the new year?

Remember the SMART acronym for goal setting in five steps. This process works whether you are saving for a house, vacation or retirement, or whether you are trying to lose weight or eat a more healthful diet.

  1. Set a “specific” goal. For example, what exactly do you want to accomplish healthwise in the coming year? Do you want to get more exercise, eat a more healthful diet or lose weight?
  2. Be sure the goal is “measurable.” If increasing your amount of exercise is a goal, how will you track it? You can keep track of time spent exercising or number of miles walked, jogged, run or swam. You can track steps taken based on a wearable tracker.
  3. Make sure the goal is “attainable.” Start simple and be sure you need to “reach” a bit toward your goals. The goals should not be beyond your grasp. If you are starting an exercise program, be sure to talk with a health-care provider.
  4. Be sure the goal is “realistic.” Do you have what you need to accomplish the goal?
  5. Finally, be sure the goal is “timely.” When are you going to start? Schedule it on your calendar.

If improving your nutrition is a goal, see https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/food and check out the “Healthwise” and “Nourish” resources, along with healthful recipes. Be sure to sign up for the free electronic newsletters with motivating tips.

Warm your body and spirit with some nourishing soup such as this colorful and flavorful soup.

Grandma B’s bean soup

3 carrots, peeled and shredded

2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced

3 stalks celery, sliced

1 medium onion, diced

2 c. cubed, cooked ham

4 (15-oz.) cans navy beans (low sodium) – can substitute soaked, cooked dry beans

1 tsp. garlic powder

1/2 tsp. onion powder

12 c. water

Salt and pepper to taste

Place carrots, potatoes, celery, onion and ham in a large pot. Rinse and drain the beans. Add to pot. Add water, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper. Cook soup on medium heat until vegetables are soft, or approximately three hours.

Makes eight servings. Each serving has 240 calories, 2 grams (g) fat, 17 g protein, 39 g carbohydrate, 12 g fiber and 350 milligrams sodium.

Warm your body and spirit with some nourishing soup.