Ghandi said, “you must be the change you want to see in the world”. January is not just the start of a new year, but is also the start of a new stronger, healthier and happier you. 49% of North Americans make New Years’ resolutions and yet only 8% stick with them (J of Clin Psych 2014). Rather than making one rigid resolution that can easily be broken, target the main pillars of health: sleep, diet, exercise and stress management, and enjoy a path to lasting wellness.
Sleep; it is not just about being rested and getting enough hours, it’s about rejuvenation and healing. While overall we all need about 7to 8 hours, adequate stage-4 sleep and a consistent wake time are vital. Studies show that shifting your wake time by 90 minutes or more reduces energy and increases body fat independent of diet and exercise. So get into bed close to the same hour each night and, more importantly get up around the same time each day. Melatonin taken 30 minutes before bed promotes stage-4 sleep and resets your sleep cycle, getting you back into a healthy routine after the all the holiday festivities.
Diet; after a month of holiday treats and sweets, everyone could use a sustainable nutrient makeover. Eating well takes a little time and forethought, so start by planning 3 to 5 days of menu ideas and cook more than one meal at a time. Make sure you get the right ratio of nutrients on your plate with protein in every meal and green on your plate every day. Commit to removing one bad thing from your diet such as white sugar, bread or desserts in general. Add in foods such as lemon, artichokes, beets and kale that stimulate the production of liver enzymes to help naturally detoxify the body. We don’t need to be perfect every day, but we need the good basics in our diet to create a healthy body.
Exercise; it is not just about weight loss but about increasing muscle strength, improving circulation and feeling good. You don’t need to train like an Olympian, just go play like one. Choose an activity that you enjoy otherwise it will simply become one more task in your day. It could be dancing, bowling, going for a walk, or a group game of hockey or soccer. Just get moving. Ideally exercise should be a regular part of your routine, but if not, start small, once a week and increase it as each month passes.
Stress management; December is the most stressful time of the year, and January is when we feel most of the effects from the rise in cortisol, our stress hormone. Cortisol not only increases weight gain independent of what we eat, but also impairs stage-4 sleep, reduces our immunity by up to 56%, and adversely affects digestion. Take on less and learn to say “no”, and implement some stress reducing techniques such as deep breathing, massage therapy, watching a funny movie and laughing. Supplement with lactium (Douglas Labs “Sereniten plus”) a lactose-free milk peptide that immediately limits excess release of damaging cortisol and calms the body without making you sleepy. Add in some extra magnesium to help reset the GABA receptors in the brain and decrease stress hormone production.
Here’s to a new you!