New Year, New You
Many of us like to set goals for the New Year. It’s a great time put last years decisions in the past and start anew. If you’re like most people, you know what it’s like to struggle with the follow through, but this can be the year to stick with it and really make changes to benefit your health! Health is a different picture for all of us, but one thing rings true for everyone seeking great health, balance and moderation can help to make significant changes in our lives. Here are some simple and easy ways to get healthy this year.
Detoxification is a great way to kick-start your healthy year. When we detoxify, we intend to reduce the intake of toxins that we acquire from the environment, and minimize the effects of the “not-so-great” habits we had over the holidays. When most people think of detoxification, they picture gallons of lemon juice or weeks of fasting. While those can be ways to reduce toxic burden in the body, it doesn’t have to be such a huge sacrifice or production. The most important parts of a detoxification plan are to include components that are lifestyle changes, and will last beyond your intended detoxification period, such as eating whole / unprocessed foods, and cutting out problematic foods and beverages that include sugar, alcohol, and caffeine. In addition to making healthier diet decisions that will last for many New Years to come, it is important to make sure your digestion is working properly, and that you are exercising. Sweating during exercise is an important way for the body to eliminate toxins, in addition to our more well-known routes; intestines, liver, and urinary tract. You might want to incorporate tea that supports the aforementioned elimination organs, and most importantly, drink lots of water.
The hardest thing about this time of year is the temptation of food and desserts we love to enjoy with our families and friends. Now that we’ve gotten past holiday eating, it’s time to get back on track with making better food choices.
Meal prepping: Making food ahead of time for the busy week is a great way to avoid having to go to fast food restaurants or ordering out. We can be more in control of our food choices if we know what goes into making our meals and we can save a lot of time by preparing them all in advance!
Increase vegetables: In a healthy diet, it’s helpful to decrease refined carbohydrates such as breads, processed grains, and pastas. Increasing vegetables is a better way to incorporate a better source of carbohydrates, as we still need carbohydrates in the diet for energy. Sometimes people will dramatically decrease their carbohydrate intake, which not only makes you feel like you are starving, but can decrease your metabolism. Furthermore, vegetables are a very important source of vitamins, minerals, and fiber that our bodies need to thrive. Usually lower in calories, vegetables can be eaten in huge quantities to satiate feelings of hunger. Make sure you have a serving or more vegetables with each meal, especially if you are removing refined carbs from your diet. Chopped celery, carrots, and snap peas are easy and healthy snacks throughout the day.
Portion control: Try to be aware of quantity at each meal so that you are not overeating or undereating. Our bodies feed off of proteins, healthy carbs, and healthy fats for energy, so we need to provide them with an adequate amount of all of the above. Overeating can cause our bodies to store excess weight if we are unable to use it or eliminate it while undereating will cause our bodies to store fat as a compensation mechanism. Eating just the right amount is a key component to maintaining a healthy weight. Some portion control ideas include using your hand as a guideline for measurements. Your palm is about 3 ounces which is a good amount of meat for a meal with 1-2 fists of vegetables which are about 1-2 cups. Keeping these tricks in mind can help us eat just the right amount at each meal.
Water: Hydration is a key part of many body functions including elimination. In order to keep healthy insides we need to support our bodies in removing waste by providing fluids for filtration and lubrication. Water helps our skin look younger, our bowels move better, and our joints moving easily. Drinking half your bodyweight, in ounces, is a great goal to set for yourself to ensure adequate daily water intake.
The body needs our help in order to keep healthy movement throughout our organ systems. By moving, we are contracting and relaxing muscles which creates a pumping action to promote toxin and waste elimination, as well as nutrient and blood supply to the places we need them most. Movement as simple as taking a leisurely walk or as strenuous as going for a hike or weight lifting, helps to keep our lymphatic systems draining waste products and helps to keep our blood circulating properly to all of our organs for optimal function. The more sedentary we are, the more stagnant these functions get, which in turn slows down metabolism. Be sure to stay hydrated during and after activities to better promote elimination throughout the body and provide lubrication for your joints!
No matter how much we may need to get done in a day, every body needs it’s rest! Getting adequate sleep resets our bodies control system and maintains regulation of our hormones and neurotransmitters. This can help to promote appropriate stress responses, healthy immune function and even help with weight management. When we don’t get enough sleep, our body shuts down certain processes so it can spend more energy to keep it awake. This means you might not have optimal functioning of hormone production, detoxification, or stress adaptation. Always remember that rest stimulates healing. If you have trouble falling or staying asleep, make sure you are shutting down electronics and external stimuli several hours before bed to allow the body enough time to prepare for a restful night's sleep.
The best way to track whether we are on the path towards optimal health is to keep track of our progress. Set goals and monitor yourself by noting them in a chart, schedule or journal (whatever works best for you):
meal plans (include symptoms noticed after meals to see what types of foods may or may not be working for you)
weekly exercise plans (including time and type of exercise)
hours and quality of sleep
amount of water per day
...and any other goals you may set for yourself!
This year, hold yourself accountable and responsible for the new you. Take charge of getting in touch with your personal state of health!
Be Well and Happy 2016!