Photo submitted A cup of chai tea is a great way to warm up after a walk in the great outdoors. (Photo Pixabay)

“I only spend $ 40 a month on coffee drinks now. I have my budget on a spreadsheet ”, my elder daughter and coffee lover commented.

My daughter’s goal in 2021 was to spend less money on coffee, so spending $ 10 a week was an improvement. Paying rent and other expenses outside the home made her more financially savvy.

At this time of year, many people set some sort of goal or “resolution.” Some goals relate to finances, career aspirations, nutrition, fitness, or a variety of other topics.

However, extreme New Years resolutions tend to be short-lived. If you want to set a goal for yourself, try this activity. Write down a specific goal, three reasons why you want to achieve the goal, and five ways to get there.

My goal is to exercise more in the New Year. During the pandemic, I unfortunately became quite sedentary. I used to walk across campus to attend meetings in all kinds of weather and sometimes on icy roads. Now almost all of my meetings are hosted by Zoom from my office, even in the summer.

The tunnel that allowed me to walk from one building to another inside is closed for several months for repair.

I started to eat my lunch at my office instead of walking to the next building. My old lunch group eats on their own schedules instead of getting together to eat together like we used to.

I have plenty of excuses, don’t I?

I know my laziness antisocial behavior is not good for me. I even stopped wearing my step counter. This little electronic device made me feel guilty with its incessant reminders of the number of steps I was taking.

On a positive note, I climb the steps to the third floor every day when I arrive. Some days, however, taking the elevator is very tempting. I volunteer to get mail every day so it’s still a few flights of stairs. To clear my head between tasks, I sometimes walk the hallways.

In the coming year, my goal is to get more physical activity. I have good reasons why we should keep fitness as a goal. Physical activity strengthens our muscles and helps us maintain our weight or even lose a few pounds. Regular physical activity helps reduce our risk of chronic diseases, including cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.

If getting more physical activity is one of your goals, consider these tips based on the health recommendations from www.choosemyplate.gov.

Explore physical activities that match your abilities and interests. See “Stretch towards better health” at www.ag.ndsu.edu/publications/health-fitness/stretching-toward-better-health to learn how to stretch while sitting.

Slowly build up your level of physical activity. This will help prevent injury and may motivate you to keep going.

If you’re hoping for any health benefit, do moderate physical activity that gets your heart pounding for at least 2.5 hours a week, but not all in one day. Spread activities out throughout the week and aim for 10 minutes of activity at a time. During Midwestern winters, indoor walking or cross-country skiing are great ideas.

Try weight training twice a week. Try sit-ups or push-ups, or use resistance bands. Even full cans can serve as a weight.

Make active choices during the day. Taking the stairs instead of the elevator and opting for a 10-minute walk during a break from work can help achieve fitness goals.

Try out different activities. There are plenty of online fitness options available, or take out old DVDs and plug them in and work out with them.

Plan your fitness time and find a friend to motivate you. Maybe exercising in the morning or at noon works best for you and your fitness partner.

Set an objective. Put your goal on a mirror or refrigerator as a reminder. You can even set a timer on a phone.

In winter, you might be tempted to go for a walk with a hot drink. A cup of plain tea or coffee without added sweeteners contains only a few calories. If you want a special homemade drink, try this delicious tea blend recipe offered by North Carolina’s “Eat smart, move more” website. It is cheaper and lower in calories at 45 calories per cup than most specialty hot drinks.

Chai tea blend

1 cup powdered skimmed milk

1 cup non-dairy cream powder

1 cup non-dairy creamed powder with French vanilla flavor

1 1/2 cup sugar

1 1/2 cups unsweetened instant tea

2 teaspoons of ground ginger

2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon of ground cloves

1 teaspoon of ground cardamom

In a large bowl, combine the first five ingredients. Stir in the ginger, cinnamon, cloves and cardamom. In a blender or food processor, blend 1 cup at a time until the mixture has the consistency of a fine powder. To make tea, mix two heaping tablespoons of chai tea mixture in a cup of hot water.

Makes about 48 servings. Each serving contains 45 calories, 1 gram (g) of fat, 9 g of carbohydrate, 1 g of protein and 10 milligrams of sodium.

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