4 Eco-Friendly Ways to Lose Weight this Year

Well into the new year now, it seems that many of us are still seeking ways to better ourselves by working to lose weight and become healthier in 2016. It may not immediately resonate that the quest for better health could also involve helping our planet, but many weight-loss practices incorporate green living as well.
If you’re working toward improving your overall health this year, we challenge you to consider the environmental impact of your exercise and diet decisions. Use these tips to ensure you start off on the right step to becoming healthier and happier –you’ll be glad you did, and the planet will thank you, too.

1. Swap the gym for the park

RMP trail
Have you ever thought about the carbon emissions that your car gives off while you drive to the gym? What about the energy-hogging treadmills that run for hours on end? While it’s great to hit the gym in the winter months when outdoor activities are less available, consider swapping gym time for a date in the park especially when the sun is shining, and the temperature is bearable.

A walk or jog outdoors is great for your health and has far less impact on the environment than a trip to the gym. You’ll save money on pricey gym memberships, and you’ll reconnect with nature in the process. Invite a workout buddy or bring the kids along if you need extra motivation to get active. Many local parks also host great hiking trails and access to riverfronts. Check out a list of local parks and wildlife refuges here.

2. Pack lunch (and use eco-friendly containers!)

veggie pita
Buying your lunch while at work each day can not only get expensive quickly, but it can also lead to eating overly processed and unhealthy foods far more often than you might otherwise. Packing and bringing your lunch each day gives you better control over the portion sizes of food and can help you avoid carb-heavy fast food or sugary break room snacks. When packing, choose reusable containers and travel mugs in order to reduce paper and plastic waste. You’ll save money and make a positive impact on our landfills by saying no to wasteful packaging.

3. Change your commute

To stay in shape and reduce your carbon footprint, try walking or biking to work when possible. This one is tough for those who have a long commute but is very feasible for inner-city residents. Staying active will lead to better health, and you may develop a habit that really sticks. Physicians say that a body in motion will be healthier than its counterpart, so use the upcoming spring weather to your advantage and get some fresh air while you’re heading to and from the office.

Birmingham residents: If you work in the downtown city center, UAB campus or Lakeview community, Birmingham’s Zyp bikes are a great way to get active! You can use them to grab a quick meal or run an errand on your lunch break, without ever moving your car from the parking garage or giving up that precious street parking. Visit Zyp Birmingham for more information about rates and kiosk locations.

4. Embrace whole foods

After a long day, it is tempting to come home and settle on a quick, pre-prepared meal. Boxed meals and frozen foods often contain artificial ingredients and additives, and can be packaged using excessive paper and plastic. Try skipping these “convenience” foods and consider preparing a meal with fresh ingredients. For some, it may become an opportunity to get your family involved in your new, healthy diet. You’ll cut down on the carbs and help reduce the impact on landfills from all that product packaging. Eating fresh produce is a great way to support your local farmer’s market, too. You may find that you feel healthier and lighter when you cut all the unnecessary chemicals and preservatives from your diet and begin to embrace natural foods.

For tips on some of our favorite foods to help fight winter ailments from the inside out, check out Winter Wonder Foods.

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