Ushering in the New Year can be a time of mixed emotions. I always like to reflect on how the previous year went and how the next can be even better. You probably do the same thing too.
It’s not surprising that some people might feel excited thinking about what they have accomplished and what’s yet to come, while others might be feeling apprehensive. It’s also that time of the year when health resolutions are on the top of everyone’s minds. You might have come up with one (or more) of these already but, if you haven’t, it’s not too late!
I’m going to give you 10 great ideas that you can adopt for yourself to make the new year your healthiest yet. I’m also including a bonus tip at the end that will help you actually stick to your resolution of living more healthily because, let’s face it, coming up with the resolution is not the hard part.
It’s actually pushing through with it, right? I absolutely know the feeling.
I’ve divided them into 4 sections because these are the 4 core lifestyle aspects that I believe form the foundation of optimal health and the 4 areas that most of us can, and should, be continuously trying to improve.
“All disease begins in the gut”.
This is a saying from Hippocrates that I truly believe. It’s ancient wisdom that unfortunately has become forgotten amidst the race to develop more prescription medications.
But it’s so true. More and more clinical research have come to the same conclusion.
The connection between food poisoning and what you eat is obvious.
But the effects of Leaky Gut Syndrome, poor eating habits and consuming foods that are not right for our genes and metabolic type go far beyond just the intestinal symptoms.
So here are the first 3 ideas:
Yes, this resolution actually only takes 15 minutes.
But the key to this resolution is to then use this list to help you navigate the grocery store so that you can decide which items are worth buying organic.
It’s a simple but important one. Why?
Well, first of all because I like to keep things as simple as possible.
Small milestones, short-term goals and simple tasks mean many more opportunities to celebrate your progress and that’s the key to sustainable success.
Secondly, many people think that eating healthier involves a complete overhaul and a huge budget for things like buying organic.
Using this list will help you understand which produce items are worth spending that extra money on.
This will hopefully be more of an incentive to stick to a healthier way of eating.
And, truthfully, even if you don’t buy anything organic, non-organic, even frozen, fruits and vegetables are still better than no fruits and vegetables.
So, please don’t let the cost of produce be an obstacle for you.
2 Chew more
Again, so simple but important. Why?
We live in a hectic stressful world that doesn’t allow many of us to eat mindfully.
Chewing more not only improves digestion, which is an obvious benefit, but it also encourages you to learn to be more present at mealtimes.
Mentally having to count to 20 chews or bites with each mouthful will make you realise how quickly we normally eat. You might even find that you practically just inhale your food.
Adopting this easy mindfulness exercise will help you control portions because your brain has time to register that your stomach is already full. (This process normally takes a full 20 minutes so it’s really important to slow things down.)
3 Don’t automatically follow what Google says is the latest diet trend of the year
One of the main reasons people end up abandoning their healthy eating resolution is because they don’t see results quick enough.
And one of the main reasons for this is that the diet they chose (or that Dr. Google chose for them) wasn’t right for their genes and metabolic type to begin with.
The latest diet craze, the number 1 on the ‘Top 10 Healthiest Diets’ list, the eating plan of your favourite celebrity or what worked for your best friend may not be what’s right for you.
So the easiest way to avoid the trial and error is to start with a nutritional genomics test.
It’s a simple painless way to find out how to eat right for your genes and metabolic type.
This has been shown to lead to earlier success, which means you’re more likely to stick to it.
I talk about food a lot because I really love to eat but sleep is definitely my second favourite hobby.
Like poor eating habits, the lack of sleep has also been linked to many chronic illnesses.
Sleep deprivation has been shown to negatively affect our genes and since genes are our fundamental blueprint, this isn’t really surprising.
Many of us suffer from what’s called “social jetlag”.
Unlike real jetlag, social jetlag is a punishment that’s self-imposed and normally lasts for more than just a few days.
It’s a result of modern technology.
We make ourselves stay awake longer than our body can handle to watch TV, go out with friends, play on our phones or continue working into the night.
This messes up our body’s internal clock and wreaks havoc on all our organ systems.
The effect on the body is the same as travelling to different time zones but without the fun of going on a holiday.
But, social jetlag is hard to get away from.
I get it.
Some days I have to work at night too.
So, for those times that you feel you just have to stay awake, here are a couple of ideas to improve the quality, instead of the quantity, of your sleep:
1 Eat foods that will increase melatonin production
Melatonin is a naturally produced hormone in the body that tells us when it’s time to sleep.
Certain activities, like exposing ourselves to the blue light emission of our phones at night, can reduce the production of this hormone.
Eating foods like cherries, salmon,spirulina, sesame seeds and walnuts on a regular basis can help increase our melatonin stores.
2 Invest in a blackout curtain
Our ancestors slept when the sun set.
There were no street lamps. There were no building lights left on throughout the night.
Darkness is our natural biological cue or trigger to sleep.
A blackout curtain can really help with this and they are not necessarily that expensive to get.
I personally use a portable one made by Gro. It has suction cups that allow it to stick on to any window, which makes it really convenient for travelling. You can get one through my affiliate link here.
Chronic stress can cause persistently elevated levels of Inflammation and oxidative stress in the body.
These can lead to anything from fatigue to heart attacks; from headaches to stroke; or from back pain to cancer.
While I’m all for going on long holidays to get away from the stress of daily life, we both know that this type of stress relief is temporary.
So the key is to find something you can do that will relieve your stress before it builds up.
This means scheduling in regular relaxation time and self care breaks during the week.
And, yes, you should actually put this is your calendar.
We’re all so busy and intending to do this is very different from having an appointment to keep.
If you were meeting someone important, you’d put it in your calendar so that you don’t forget right?
Well, isn’t the most important person in the world YOU? 🙂
So, schedule in some time to:
1 Meditate and
2 Do some deep breathing exercises.
There are many forms of doing both. You just have to find the one that suits you.
And, contrary to what many think, this practice doesn’t have to take a long time. Just start with 10 minutes on a regular basis.
This last aspect is by no means the least important.
Exercise not only keeps our muscles, heart and lungs fit, it also keeps our brain alert.
Physical fitness has even been shown to keep us young by promoting healthier gene expression.
But of course there are other aspects to being physically fit besides muscle strength and endurance, which is something many people forget. Flexibility and coordination are equally important.
So here are some ideas you can adopt:
1 Work on your posture
Developing strong core and back muscles will automatically result in better posture.
There are a few wearable devices on the market right now which can help with this as well.
Of course you can also just set an alarm every hour or so to remind you to check your posture.
This is especially important if you work a desk job or are constantly on your phone as these can lead to “text neck” and other repetitive strain type of injuries.
2 Incorporate more movement into your daily routine
This can be something as simple as doing squats while brushing your teeth, walking instead of sitting when you are on a call or parking your car one block further away than you normally would.
3 Choosing the best kind of exercise
Like following the right diet, it’s also important that your workout regime is compatible with your body type if you want to maximise your results.
A fitness genomics test can tell you how you should be training, how much recovery time you need and how you can prevent injury.
As I mentioned earlier, choosing a resolution is not the hard part.
ANY of the 10 in this post (and the hundreds of other possible ones you think of) will help you lead to healthier lifestyle.
But the problem is how do you stick to it?
Well, as promised, I want to share with you a little secret that will help you with this.
Pick 4 different ones.
Now, I know you might be thinking “one resolution is hard enough and you want me to have 4?!” but hear me out.
You may have heard a popular catchphrase that it takes 21 days to form a new habit.
Science and real-world experience tells us that it actually takes a MINIMUM of 21 days, but on average between 60 to 90 days.
For most people, 90 days (or 3 months or 12 weeks—however you look at it) is a much more effective and realistic timeframe to incorporate a new behavior into your life.
So by picking 4, you can actually have a new mini-resolution every 90 days.
As I said, shorter term milestones or goals are much easier to achieve. There is more opportunity to celebrate along the way and psychologically it’s easier to commit to something short term.
Two things can happen at the 90 day mark.
One, you succeeded. (Yay!)
After 90 days, this ‘new habit’ has now been practised long enough that it’s no longer new or just a habit, but, rather, it’s now a part of your lifestyle.
You don’t even have to think about it now and you can move on to the next mini-resolution.
When you successfully complete that too, then now you can say you’ve actually accomplished TWO things this year…..and so on.
Or, the second outcome, you didn’t complete the full 90 days.
In this case you can just start again with the next mini-resolution.
This means you actually have 4 ‘chances’ to succeed in achieving your main resolution of leading a healthier life.
Overall, this method equals less boredom from sticking to just the one thing, the finish line looking closer and you having the potential to layer on 4 new healthy habits instead of just one.
So, basically, 90-day resolutions are a win-win.
The only question left then is which resolution will you choose to start with?