Photo illustration by Chelsea Beck; photo via iStock

It’s a new year, and none of my pants fit. You can still see the story of 2017 writ large on my hips and thighs: I stress-ate and binge-watched Netflix my way through the inauguration, a move to a new apartment, the loss of a father figure, seeing two of my four kids through both high school and college admissions tests and being part of giving birth to The Glow Up. Eight months later, I am a full 3 inches bigger everywhere—and no, that does not mean getting taller.

What does 3 inches mean in pounds? I have no idea. I stopped weighing myself 14 years ago, after the birth of my last child. Now I measure myself by how well my body feels and whether I feel sexy in my clothes or not. To look at me, 3 inches may not seem like much of an issue; but the true costs of letting go instead of building up are little aches and pains in my feet and my lower back, bad posture, irritability and fatigue.

And then there’s my closet—which was once my happy place. These days, it sometimes feels like the front line of a hostile territory where my wardrobe has been taken hostage until I gain the strength and resolve to fight to get it back. When your clothes don’t fit right, it’s a struggle not to end up being late, as evidenced by the explosion of discarded outfits across my bedroom floor as I sprint to the office wearing a pair of elastic-waist pants. But like Barack Obama said, there’s “change,” and there’s “hope” that I’m ready to break out of this rut in 2018.

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Let’s start from zero. I vowed to do two things at the top of the year: walk more and drink more water. Those are the two best and simplest things anyone of any age can do at any time. And they cost you absolutely zero.

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Walking reduces stress; increases blood flow to the organs and the muscles; helps to control weight, high blood pressure and diabetes; and contributes to brain health. Studies have shown that as we age, walking can help prevent the decline of cognitive function.

There are a lot of things that motivate me to take a walk—even on a ridiculously cold day like today. It clears my head. The street-style aspect of getting dressed and looking good—even if I’m in sweats—feels like a little runway moment. I’m famous for walking the runway, and I can tell you: If you want your walk to pay off, you’ve got to do it right. When you strap on your shoes, choose something with a lot of cushioning in the heel and adequate arch support. I like Asics Gel Nimbus for stroll or a marathon; one can lead to the other if you make it a point to go a little farther each time you decide to go for a walk or a run.

When you walk, hold your head up. I can’t stress enough the importance of looking forward, throwing your shoulders back and holding your stomach in tight while you’re out for a stroll. Increased screen time has us all hunched over like trolls for too much of the day, necks craned forward and shoulders sloped while we morph into our machines for hours on end, firing off phone calls and emails. It’s a lot of stress on the joints and the spine, not to mention the fact that this hunched posture tells the core muscles that support and strengthen the abdomen and lower back to relax and let go.

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All of this creates a soft belly and slumped shoulders and literally makes you look like you’ve let yourself go. Just 30 minutes of brisk walking a day—an easy mile or 20 city blocks—can burn up to 200 calories, jump-start your metabolism and give your brain a creative jolt. And, like I said, it costs you zero.

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Water is the body’s first line of defense when it comes to proper functioning. Adult female bodies are 6o percent water, and the brain itself averages a 73 percent composition of water, so it stands to reason that water is key to its proper functioning. Drinking water lowers the sodium content in your bloodstream, which works to reduce both diabetes and hypertension, the two biggest BFFs of heart disease. And heart disease can affect you no matter what you weigh, so it’s good to remember that drinking water and walking are the enemies of hypertension and bad cholesterol.

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Believe it or not, one of the biggest factors in both mental and physical fatigue and overeating is dehydration. And one of the fastest ways to blow up—in the wrong way—is eating before drinking water (that’s why none of my pants fit right now). Like walking, water is a basic building block for getting your glow up with zero calories and zero cost, but they both pay off in spades. Do you hear me, 2018? She ready! You with me?