Happy 2015!! Many people are extremely motivated to get healthy this time of year, and if you are one of those people, I say strike while the iron is hot. However, you don't necessarily need to look at this shift in health as a 'resolution'. As most of us know from previous years (ummm...my younger self included) people come charging out the gate ready to change EVERYTHING about their health come January 1st, and a few months (or weeks) later they are tapped out.
Why Resolutions Often Fail
EXTREMES. Yes, we've all been there, and many people do this every year. We decide to lose weight and pick an extreme workout and meal plan to lose those 10lbs. Only to either quit after 1 month because we are miserable OR we lose the 10lbs and then go right back to our old ways.
While it's wonderful to set tangible goals such as losing weight, it's also key to focus on making changes to the FUNDAMENTALS of health. What do I mean by that? Resolutions are wonderful to get people started on a healthier path, but by following trends and/or going to extremes we often set ourselves up for failure. If we focus on health/wellness, it often make things like food changes more likely to stick. For example, by looking at those french fries as something that can negatively impact your overall health vs. thinking 'this is going to make me fat' you begin approaching food from a different perspective. Another way to look at it? Many people will switch from regular soda to diet soda when trying to lose weight. Sorry to point it out, but neither one of those choices is doing your HEALTH any favors. Now, switching from sodas to drinking more water...that's a step toward weight loss AND better health.
So What Are Some Of The Fundamentals?
Well, I'm glad you asked. Over the course of the next few weeks, I'll go into these topics more in depth, but for now let's keep it simple with a little information about three of the most basic. Trust me, the basics do yield big rewards.
THIS IS HUGE. Yes, you've heard it from me before (and probably a thousand other people in healthcare since January 1st), but the food we put into our bodies really does set the foundation for wellness. Otherwise, you are fighting an uphill battle. Of course, this seems like common sense, but this can be one of the most difficult thing to get patients to change. It's easy to become attached to the foods we love, and you may not think that giant espresso and the bagel you're having every morning for breakfast is impacting your health, but sadly, you are wrong.
At the most basic levels
- CUT THE JUNK. Stop eating processed foods such as pasta, bread, and sugary treats. Eliminate sodas, sugary juices, and fast food. Focus on fruits, veggies, high quality protein and high quality fats (people often get confused about fats...so think avocados, coconut oil, grass-fed butter, olive oil).
- COOK AT HOME. Even if you aren't eating fast food such as McDonald's, eating out is usually not going to be as healthy as what you can prepare at home. If your schedule is super busy, try planning ahead. Set aside some time on Saturday or Sunday to think about your meals for the week and then go get the ingredients so you don't turn toward quick and easy take out options. If time is really an issue, the crock pot can definitely be your new best friend in 2015. Pre-cooking and freezing meals is also a wonderful option.
- CHOOSE ORGANIC. Really do try to choose organic whenever possible. If budget is a real issue stick to the guidelines from the Environmental Watch Group when choosing produce: The Dirty Dozen/Clean Fifteen. When it comes to meat and dairy, you really should stick to the organic varieties.
- CLEAN UP YOUR WATER. If you are not already drinking purified water, now is a good time to start. Chemicals such as chlorine and fluoride are just a few of the contaminants in drinking water that can wreak havoc on the body. Investing in a water purifier is a wonderful investment in your overall health.
Get that body moving! Humans are not designed to sit at the computer for hours on end. Of course, cardiovascular exercise is important, as is strength training, but DO NOT FORGET the importance of FLEXIBILITY. The majority of pain patients coming to my clinic are on my acupuncture treatment table due to injuries that could have easily been avoided if they had improved their flexibility. If you've never tried yoga, now is a great time to start incorporating that into your weekly routine. Yoga isn't your thing? Then find a stretching class, or if you are thinking about getting a trainer, be sure to find one who focuses on stretching. Those short 5 minute stretches before and after workouts are not doing you any favors. Your body will thank you if you aim to improve your flexibility in 2015.
- ARE YOU FATIGUED OR FEEL SIMPLY DEPLETED? While exercise is important for everyone, now is not necessarily the best time to join an intense boot camp or start training for a marathon. Intense forms of exercise can actually wreak havoc on your body and make things worse. Instead, opt for more nourishing forms of exercise such as yoga and walking. If you really enjoy jogging just keep a slow pace for a shorter duration, but if you notice you start feeling more fatigued (or even tend to get illnesses more frequently), it may be time to visit an acupuncturist/herbalist to get herbs to help strengthen your body.
If you've been reading my previous posts then you already know how important I feel sleep is to overall health and wellness. I bring up the subject here because IF YOU CHANGE NOTHING ELSE THIS YEAR, strive to change your sleep habits. However, keep in mind that eating healthy and incorporating movement into your routine will often help you sleep better.
- UNINTERRUPTED SLEEP (ideally 6-8 hours straight) is essential to overall health and wellness. If this means you DVR your favorite shows at night to get to sleep an hour earlier, so be it. Instead of adding to your commute time to stop for that cup of coffee, how about sleeping in an extra 30 minutes? For those who just simply do not have the option of sleeping through the night (eg. new parents), focus on the areas you can improve such as nutrition, and if necessary, incorporate herbs, supplements, and/or acupuncture to help you stay healthy. You can refer to my previous posts HERE and HERE if you want more information about sleep.
AND FINALLY...the most important thing in improving your health and wellness is taking those first steps. So, rather than over thinking the situation, just pick your health goal (or goals) and go for it!!
Wishing you all the best as you embark on a healthier 2015!!
The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified healthcare professional. The information and opinions presented are intended for educational purposes only and they are not intended to be medical advice. It is advised you contact your healthcare provider prior to starting any type of program or protocol, starting or stopping supplements/herbs/medications, making any major dietary changes, or beginning any new form of physical activity. If you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition, consult your health care provider before using products or protocols based on this content.
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