New Year. You got this!
Updated: Jan 2, 2019
As we welcome in 2019 and all of its potential, we must exfoliate those parts of 2018 we don’t want to carry forward; be it mentally, physically, or nutritionally. What is it for you? The news channels that cause you to be irritable, the sedentary lifestyle that acts like a sieve pouring that energy into your couch, or is the sugar that has crept into those in-between moments? Is it time to shed those extra pounds, tone up those muscles, lose that invisible veil of fatigue that has you feeling hard to motivate, or maybe the irritability you think you just can’t help? Shed it. Here are some tips on how. To start 2019, take a deep breath and think about what has been successful for you in the past and let's build from there. In this time of New Year’s resolutions, use that new found energy and go gung-ho. Good for you for taking the step to be healthy. Even a 30 day purge can mean better things to come in 2019. But as you set your goals be reasonable and have a plan of maintenance. We are all human and simple, flexible plans work the best.
The basics... let’s go with the usual things because they work. Embracing a therapeutic diet should not be a form of deprivation but one of self nurturing and self-care. We genetically all have slightly different needs (this is why there is no one diet for everyone) but getting on a healthy diet for you is the first step. It is OK to try to be perfect for a month. And then allow more flexibility. Use January to purge and teach your body what it’s like to eat healthy and how to run efficiently on healthy food. This month, feed your body with what you know is good and eliminating the bad. Month two your body will tell you what it needs and your mind will listen. Healthy food plans need to be simple and sustainable in the end. They need to be well-rounded to be safe. Equip yourself with lots of tools. In 2019 there are endless websites, apps, social media tools and these are all great places to start building your toolbox of what can help you maintain a healthier lifestyle. Use them. Gone are the days of excuses. The second part of the equation is exercise of course. But how much? Our bodies were built and evolved to move. But innovation has made it quite easy to be sedentary. Inactivity has been shown to be as bad for us as smoking every day. Move. Start the day with a walk. Get those steps in. Do anything, just get going. It doesn’t have to be intense. Your first goal is to move. There are several studies that show us that simply just moving helps reduce heart attacks and improves overall health. There was a study a few years ago with London Transit Workers that showed that conductors that just walked up and down the aisles were substantially less likely to develop heart disease then those who just sat. Moving throughout the day will affect your health in a positive way. This doesn’t surprise many, but more importantly we have also proven that inactivity has an opposite action on your body. By choosing to not move, you are contributing to your body aging and demise. We’re not saying it’s easy for all of us office dwellers to move throughout the day. The facts are we can’t change the evolution of our body, but we we can use our minds to maximize the system we were given. So the question has been how much is enough? 15,000 steps are where the studies have settled. This takes effort. Everyone will need their own plan to get this into their day. Are you getting this amount? If you already are, can you ensure 22 minutes of increased heart rate every day as part of the mix? Aerobic activity such as jogging, interval training, etc. can biologically make us younger on a cellular level. A study done 19 years ago showed that middle-aged competitive runners had much longer telomeres that healthy younger Individuals. Exercise and activity makes a difference. You want your fountain of youth? You don’t have to be a competitive runner, but choose to move. As you formulate your plan, know that you are not perfect You are human and get bored. You may despise being in the heat, or the cold, or the rain, or stuck in your house. We are not going to use the word ‘exercise’, but instead make your movement schedule and then have backup plans when the weather is not right. Keep variation in your plan. Our body has incredible muscle memory and becomes quite efficient at doing the same thing over and over. Keep your body challenged so you get the most benefit from your commitment. Let’s use technology. It hurts us enough with the ease it has brought to our life so let’s let it help us. There are so many videos on the internet or cable channels like Amazon Prime that have everything from 20 minute videos of pilates, yoga, stretching exercises, to longer more intense session coaching. There are apps such as 7 which gives you 7 minutes of exercises to challenge you no matter what level of fitness you currently are. You’ll be surprised how quickly they can wear you out. And we all have 7 minutes. There are incredible equipment improvements. Most of us have heard about Peloton bikes that have been an excellent coaching system for our patients, but have you heard about Mirror? Mirror.co, check it out to get your family having fun and moving. A solution is out there for everybody but you need to personalize it and figure out what works well for you. That’s the difference between people who are successful in maintaining and the people who are not. Ok you stuck with this long post, so I KNOW you are motivated to make a change in 2019. Don’t let the cliche of New Year's resolutions stop you. Your need for a fresh outlook is real and it can make a difference for you and those around you. If you are stuck, involve your physician. They should be well equipped to guide you into a personalized plan. (What diet choices are good for you? What movement plan is good for you? Etc.) Make follow up appointments to keep you motivated and to use as a mileposts throughout the year. If your physician is giving you a one liner answer for what to do, you need to find a better partner. This is not just lifestyle advice, these are ways to prevent and treat disease. I know we are spoiled with our motivated patients and the time we have with them at Whole Health Physicians, but even when we were in regular primary care we tried to assist patients to meet their health goals. By motivating patients to improve their lifestyle, we are affecting the root cause of disease and that is disease treatment and preventive healthcare at its best.
Here's to a happy and healthy 2019 and beyond.