Awakening Your Potential
The beginning of a new year is a time when we tend to have a heightened awareness of the things in our lives that we want to improve. These may include relationships, education, careers, finances, and especially health. Millions of people each year resolve to “lose weight” as their New Year’s resolution and most of them ultimately fail. Why? I think the answer is twofold. First, for most people to lose weight AND keep it off, they need to include exercise and a healthier diet into their everyday life. It is not a temporary thing. Anything that you do to lose weight has to be sustainable in the long term. Second, what makes up the fabric of our lives is actually our habits that make up a single day. Our routines. Small changes that you can integrate into your daily life have a far better chance of becoming habits than big sweeping changes, and it’s the habits that will change your health and your life in the long run.
This year, consider making small changes that are more likely to last and when you inevitably fail, just get back up and start again. New Year’s resolutions carry a lot of weight and many people feel extra pressure to succeed which makes them more likely to make mistakes. If you can just acknowledge that you are human and that no one is immune to failure, you can more readily move forward and try again. Success in anything is achieved by simply picking ourselves up and trying again when we fail. Here are some ideas for small changes you can make to your daily life that will have an overall impact on your health:
Start a 5-10 Minute Meditation - Starting a meditation practice can be intimidating for many of us as it appears to go against our nature of always being on the go. Luckily there are many apps that make it easy to get started and you don’t have to commit to a 30 or 60 minute meditation. Start with 5-10 minutes and see how it goes. Your mind will wander, and you will just bring it right back. It is a practice and it gets easier with time. A regular meditation practice will improve your sleep, reduce depression/anxiety, decrease stress levels (and optimize your cortisol levels), decrease blood pressure, improve concentration and memory, and potentially increase longevity.
Drink More Water - It seems simple but many of us don’t drink enough water throughout the day and on top of that, drink caffeinated beverages which increase your recommended water intake. Get yourself a nice (insulated if you like it cold) water bottle so you can measure how much water you drink in a day and start by trying to get in 2 L every day, more if you drink any caffeinated beverages or do any exercise. Increasing your hydration will improve digestion, decrease headaches, improve concentration, increase energy and physical performance, and assist with weight loss.
Read Before Bed - Start a discipline of reading for at least 15 minutes before bed. We all get so busy throughout the day with our lives and any downtime is often spent on our phones/computer or watching Netflix with our families. Collectively, we are reading less and as a result the next generation is going to read less as well. It can be difficult to feel like you can fit it in so adding it to your bedtime ritual will benefit you not only by reaping the rewards of reading, including improved memory, decreased stress, knowledge, and reduced risk of dementia, but it will also decrease your screen time in the evening which will lead to improved sleep overall.
Have a Healthy Breakfast - A complete diet overall is very difficult to maintain so start small by incorporating a healthy, protein-rich breakfast into your day. Starting the day off on the right foot means that you are more likely to continue to make healthy choices and will keep your blood sugar better balanced. You will also jumpstart your digestion so it will function more efficiently throughout the day.
- Move Your Body - You are not going to become a super athlete overnight. Take the time to appreciate where you are and just start by moving your body for 30 minutes, 4 times a week. Maybe for you this means walking slowly (and carefully) or maybe it means you can jump right into Crossfit. Either way, show your body some love for everything it is already doing right and reward it with some regular movement.
The most important thing to remember when making changes in your life whether they happen on January 1st or on any other day of the year is to just keep going when you have an off day (or week). Enjoy your holidays and special occasions, but jump right back into your routine when you can. Routines are how we make lasting changes in our lives and ultimately with our health.
Have a happy and healthy 2019!