The new year rolls around and we are all full of promise and hope as to what our blank canvas of a year will entail. We spend hours reading inspiring self-help books and pour our hearts and souls in to writing goals and consecrations. And often times we give up before we start. The reason? Because they are too complicated, too hard, require too much change…and the list goes on. And interestingly enough, of the top ten resolutions people make each year, seven of those are about achieving better health. So why is it so complicated to take care of ourselves these days when a few thousand years ago it was so simple a cave man could do it? The answer: with our over-complicated lives we over-complicate EVERYTHING. In 2015, let’s go back to the basics. Here are a few simple and easy to implement solutions to get you on the road to better health now. No excuses necessary.
1. Breathe: We are so busy living life that we forget the most basic way we stay alive is to breathe. We rush through the day taking shallow breaths that don’t fully oxygenate our bodies and calm our minds. Just taking a few deep breathes can enhance your mood, reduce stress and promotes relaxation. Proper breathing positively influences our physiology and thought processes. So just by focusing on your breathing, even without changing it, you are moving towards greater relaxation. I recommend starting your day with a few deep breathes. Breathe in through your nose and hold for four seconds, and then push the air out through your mouth for 5 seconds.
2. Eat breakfast: And I don’t mean a bowl of sugary cereal. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Your body fasts and detoxes while you sleep and thus needs energy from your breakfast to kick off your day. Skipping breakfast or just having your coffee starts you at a deficit. Often times your blood sugar is low first thing in the morning. So a breakfast of protein, complex carbohydrates or both is recommended to get your body going. If you jump straight to the sugar cereal, you’ll go from low blood sugar to high blood sugar and be on the roller coaster all day. Unbalanced blood sugar can lead to mood swings, metabolic syndrome, pre-diabetes, weight gain and more. Opt for an omelet, a protein shake, or healthy bowl of fruit with nut butter.
3. Hydrate: This is simple enough, as your body reminds you that it is thirsty all day. Our body needs water for every function from circulation to respiration. Often times we mistake our thirst for hunger and it can lead us to overeat. So next time you reach for a snack, ask yourself first, am I just thirsty? And make sure you’re not adding any sugar to that water. It’s recommended that we take in at least 8 cups of water per day, but that varies from person to person based on body composition and lifestyle.
4. Sleep: I touched on this earlier, but I want to stress how important sleep is. At night, our body shifts from the stress of the day and focuses on detoxing our bodies and removing any of the toxins accumulated over the course of a day. So it’s really important to allow your body to go through this process without interruption. That means no eating up to 3 hours before bed so your body isn’t focused on digestion. It also means shutting down from TV, phone and computer screens up to an hour before bed so your body can properly shut down. The light from screens simulates sunlight and cues to your brain that it is still daylight and you should be awake, when that isn’t the case. Allowing yourself an hour away from technology allows your body to naturally move into a state of rest and relaxation so you can enjoy a deep sleep.
5. Nourish your cells: Forget about diets, they don’t work. When you eat, eat to nourish your cells. Whatever we put in our body eventually becomes our hair, our skin, our teeth etc. And when it comes to finding your optimal body weight, food is 70% responsible. So when you are choosing your meals, select options that are going to boost your energy and immunity, brighten your skin, increase serotonin, feed your gut flora etc. Put down the packaged food! Often times, prepackaged foods are laden with chemicals and preservatives and our bodies don’t recognize them as food and so they don’t support our health in the way we would hope. So next time you’re reaching for something that has yellow dye 5, ask yourself, is that what I really want to look and feel like? Eat foods that are in as natural a state as possible. You’ll find that when you eat naturally, you wont need to calorie-count, as your body will start working and burning fuel more optimally.
6. Move: Whether you want to boost brain function, lose weight, extend your flexibility, get stronger or are concerned with heart health, it’s important to move. You don’t have to go crazy and partake in strenuous exercise, just doing a little bit each week can boost your energy and your mood, increase your HDL or good cholesterol, reduce stress and even prevent cognitive decline. So grab your sneakers and go for walk, jog in the park or take the stairs at work. Your brain and your body will thank you for it.
7. Stay positive: Your mom always told you stay positive and keep your chin up and she was right. Thinking positive thoughts, or changing your negative ones into more optimistic ones can positively impact your health and your stress. Studies suggest that a more optimistic outlook can protect you from the common cold, lower your risk of depression and even cardiovascular disease. If that’s not a reasons to write some daily positive affirmations, I don’t know what is!
8. Detox: It seems like people are always talking about the latest juice cleanse to detox their systems. And don’t get me wrong, they have their merits, but I’m talking about something else. Our skin is our largest organ in the body and is largely tied to detoxification. Opt for skin brushing, a visit to the sauna, a hot yoga class or even a soak in the tub with some Epsom salts to release those stored toxins through your skin. When our body is holding onto waste, it’s also holding onto weight. So helping your body to detox better, is a sure-fire way to get achieve better health.
9. Balance your energy: Vital energy or Qi circulates through our body like a system of roads and gives it life. When some part of that energy hits a roadblock or is overcharged, the body can't function optimally and you might start to feel "dis-ease" such as lack of energy, digestive troubles, and poor immunity. By treating the energy imbalance with a modality like acupuncture, you remove those roadblocks and allow your energy to flow more freely and support your body. I've been taking weekly trips to Aquarius Acupuncture for nearly a year now and it has healed conditions I thought would be with me forever. To get healed at the hands of Sarah Sajdak visit http://www.aquariusacupuncture.com/