Brave the low temps and get outside on New Year’s Day—you’ll thank us later. Plus, ideas for adding muesli to your menu, making your holidays more green, and tracking exercise on your phone.

By Kelsey Ogletree
The multiuser Paul Bunyan Trail runs between Brainerd and Bemidji in Minnesota.
John Noltner

1) Take a Winter Hike The couch may be calling post-New Year’s Eve, but there’s another way to kick off 2020. Launched in 2012, First Day Hikes is an initiative of America’s State Parks to inspire a little exercise and time in the great outdoors on January 1. “It gets people in the mindset of a new year, ready to make healthy lifestyle changes,” says Linda Lanterman, president of America’s State Parks and director of Kansas State Parks. Last year, nearly 73,000 participants covered more than 150,000 miles across the country, setting a new record. Sure, it’s cold. But dressing properly helps, as do perks planned at some parks, like guided hikes, bonfires and hot cocoa. (Find First Day events at stateparks.org, or just hit a local trail with friends or family.) Above all, Linda says, the camaraderie inspires people to join in: “We have people as old as 80 and as young as a few months old. It’s just a feel-good time.”

Tips for the Trip

What to Wear Dress in layers you can peel off or add with temperature changes. Protect your extremities with a hat, serious mittens or gloves (with hand warmers), wool socks, and waterproof boots.

What to Bring Take a trail map, a flashlight, nutritious snacks with protein (such as bars), water and tissues for cold-air sniffles. Bring something to mark the trail, like flags, if it’s not a guided hike.

What to Remember Check the weather first. Hike with a friend and tell someone else where you are going. Don’t go farther than you are able and turn around if you need to.

2) Add Muesli to the Menu What the heck is muesli anyway? It’s a traditional Swiss breakfast cereal of soft or lightly toasted whole grains, nuts and dried fruits. Minneapolis-based Seven Sundays makes eight varieties, all gluten-free. Eat it as a cold cereal, warmed like oatmeal, sprinkled on yogurt, or mixed into pancakes, muffins and other baked goods. Available at supermarkets nationwide and sevensundays.com.

Loaded with added fat and sugar, some granolas verge on dessert. That’s why we’re loving on this muesli from Minnesota.
Courtesy of Seven Sundays

3) Read a Collection of Notes for #MeTime Literati Bookstore owner Michael Gustafson put out a typewriter for anyone to use in his Ann Arbor, Michigan, shop—then turned the spontaneous notes left by customers into this hilarious, heartwarming book (Grand Central Publishing, $18).

4) Make the Holidays More Green "I haven’t bought gift wrap in years! We save bags and use them year after year. And we skip wrapping on larger items and hide them around the house for a scavenger hunt—eco-friendly, budget-friendly and as much fun as the gift itself." — Ginger Crichton, Midwest Living Senior Editor

5) Track Your Exercise on Your Phone For a workout that works for you and the greater good, download the PULLL app. Log your workout (spinning, running—even walks count!) and unlock funds from corporate partners that go directly toward cancer research at The Ohio State University.

Courtesy of Pelotonia

The PULLL app is an extension of Pelotonia, a three-day cycling, volunteerism and entertainment event held each August in Columbus, Ohio. It was established in 2008 to supplement federal funding for cancer research and, since then, has raised more than $200 million.

6) Don't Hesitate to Eat Pumpkin too Ponder this stat: 381 percent of your daily recommended vitamin A is supplied by 1/2 cup of canned pumpkin (surely that negates the buttery piecrust and whipped cream, right?)

7) Order from a Bakery for All Did your niece just announce she’s gone vegan or gluten-free? Hit up one of these diet-friendly bakeries before the family get-together so that no one has to miss out on dessert.

Pattycake Bakery | Columbus, Ohio

Dutch apple, pumpkin and sweet potato pies are crowd-pleasers, and don’t forget eggnog cupcakes made with local Watershed bourbon—all vegan.

The Lunch Room | Ann Arbor, Michigan

Don’t miss the gluten-free Nostess cupcakes at this plant-based bakery, which hires employees recovering from substance abuse.

Goldenrod Pastries | Lincoln, Nebraska

Holiday faves include chocolate babka, gingerbread and bûche de Noël, all dairy- and/or gluten-free. Look for owner Angela Garbacz’s cookbook this spring.

Chocolate ganache doughnuts at Goldenrod.
Daniel Muller
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