By Tasneem Bhatia, M.D.
Living Healthy Naturally MD, Best selling Author, Integrative Health Expert, Prevention/Wellness
It’s that time again — time to reflect, refresh and redirect ourselves as we look at the approaching horizon of a new year. I love the week before New Year’s Day because I take time every year to analyze the year that has passed — and make plans for the year to come! The journey to whole health is a part of that planning as we all continue to navigate the changing landscape of trying to be “healthy.” Here are my strategies for making lasting New Year’s resolutions to change your whole health.
Step 1 — Resolve to change your mind.
It is so easy to start the new year with a goal of losing weight or eating better. While these are great New Year’s resolutions, they are often too vague and not sustainable. Instead, resolve to change your mind, find mental peace, or figure out your triggers for unhealthy behaviors. This is my most important resolution this coming year. Here are ways to find mental stamina or endurance, building one of the most important healthy values — resilience.
Journaling — taking 5-10 minutes to journal every day, often before the noise and clutter of a day begins or as a day closes offers an opportunity for reflection. One of my favorite books, The Artist Way, by Julia Cameron, talks about “morning pages” as a part of the creative process. I have found that even doing just a few minutes daily can help clear your mind and make any goal more clear and easier to follow.
Meditation — The benefits of meditation have been talked about for centuries, but now science is proving the wisdom of our ancestors. Even five minutes of daily meditation can help ease anxiety, depression and calm the nervous system — allowing us to control the desire for salt, sugar or fat. (1)
Yoga — We know about the health benefits of yoga, but yoga can help you or your child change their minds. The discipline and concentration of each yoga pose, regardless of ease or difficulty, forces us to learn focus, attention and control. Try adding in 30 minutes three times per week to help gain better mental control. (2)
Step 2 — Resolve to change your energy.
Without energy, we cannot stick to any resolutions. Finding the source of energy drains or the seat of energy builders permits us to make healthy choices very easily. It is hard to exercise when you are fatigued, difficult to prepare healthy foods or even just plan a productive day when you are constantly battling energy issues. Balance your energy this year with these quick tricks.
Sleep — The lack of sleep is the greatest energy drain for all of us. Even an extra hour makes a world of difference in how we perceive the world around us. Make a commitment to sleep at least seven hours consistently the majority of the week — maybe five nights per week. Turn off electronics before bedtime, use topical magnesium oil to your neck or feet for relaxation or warm coconut oil to the scalp to sleep yourself away!
Eat — Forget all the diet confusion, simply eating on a consistent schedule can provide loads of energy. Eating consistently balances blood sugar, keeps insulin stable and prevents cravings for sugary and starchy foods. Find small servings of protein and healthy fats for consistent energy through the day. Stock the following foods to start everyday well prepared.
Nuts — almonds, cashews, brazil nuts
Seeds — chia, flax, sunflower, pumpkin
Recharge — Sometimes, the stress of the day or week is still overwhelming. Find your best way of recharging and refueling your energy void. Get a massage, try acupuncture or make a date with nature. Walk, hike, bike or find your favorite way to return to your best energy.
Step 3 — Resolve to change your belly.
2014 was the year of the belly in research, with lots of studies declaring the importance of digestive health and its role in many different illnesses. Before you diet, run a marathon or set out to change the world — change your belly first.
The Daily Detox — give your digestive system a break by cutting off all eating after 8 p.m. A 12-hour fast at night is an opportunity for all digestive organs to have clean up time. Staying hydrated — drinking 100 ounces of water per day and including 6-8 servings of fruits and vegetables per day provide plant based fiber for a daily detox.
Balance Your Bacteria — Keeping the right population of bacteria in your belly aids the digestive system. Take a daily probiotic or add in probiotic rich foods including yogurt, kefir, kombucha or bone broth. The right microbial brew in your belly aids digestion and improves your metabolic rate! (3)
Rev Up Your Liver — Adding in a daily green smoothie or green juice can be a great source of energy but also aids in liver detoxification. A healthy liver keeps our hormones in balance, reduces our load of environmental toxins and keeps our digestive system humming!
Welcome 2015 with a new approach to resolutions — change your mind, your energy and your belly and tackle the next year with your WHOLE health intact. Happy New Year!
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