It’s that time of year again. The post-Christmas / New Year’s blues have truly set in, your email inbox is overflowing, the work is stacking up and to make things worse you’ve made a new year’s resolution to lose weight and get fit which is making you feel constantly hungry. It’s no surprise then that 90% of New Year’s resolutions are broken within the first month.
Well this is how I think we should approach our health for 2019. Pick one small change to your usual routine which is going to benefit your overall health, not 6. Because when the inevitable happens and you break one of your resolutions, it won’t be long until the others come tumbling down.
Once you’ve implemented your health change for a month you should be comfortable with the routine you’ve put in place to maintain it. It shouldn’t feel like a chore or be an effort. Now pick another healthy action and add this into your routine. Again, do it for a month, get used to it, and get comfortable with the routine. So, you now have 2 health routines which you’ve consistently implemented into your life and it doesn’t feel like you’ve done much! If you keep doing this every month you will have made 12 significant health changes by the end of the year. If you had tried to action the same 12 health habits all at once in January it’s fair to say you would be in a worse situation come the end of the year than if you implement one at a time.
Here are 12 everyday, actionable items to benefit your overall health
Drinking enough water for your body type is one of the most underrated factors essential for good health. Almost every disease state will have chronic dehydration as one of the causative factors. To calculate how much water you should be drinking multiply 35ml per Kg of your body weight. During periods of hot weather or if you’re unwell you can increase this to 45ml per Kg. Now you know the amount for you invest in a drinks bottle. Buy one for work and one for home. Work out how many you need to drink to reach your goal. Little and often is so important. If you drink all your water when you get home in the evenings your body will flush it out.
Sitting for prolonged periods has been shown to have huge detrimental effects to your health including accelerating the rate of degenerative change (Osteoarthritis) to your spine which is irreversible. Make the effort to get up and move if you’ve been sitting for up to 20 minutes. You can download programmes for you PC which let you know when 20 minutes have passed with a reminder to get up and move. Why not get up and have a glass of water and kill 2 birds with one stone!
3. Include fresh fibre with every meal
Eat some form of fresh, raw and uncooked vegetables and fruit at the beginning of each meal in your day. This will take minimal preparation and you will notice a difference to your energy levels within a week.
4. Stretch every morning
Whether you feel it or not certain muscles will get tight after sleep. To ready your body for the demands of the day do a simple Cat Camel stretch every morning to improve mobility and decrease chances of low back pain. Taking part in a yoga class regularly is a fantastic way to keep your body mobile and healthy.
5. Educate yourself in an area of health you’re interested in
It can be fitness, nutrition, skin care, whatever you fancy but make the effort every day to educate yourself in an area you wouldn’t normally. The best way to do this is read 10 pages or listen to at least 15 mins of an audio book or pod cast in your selected topic every day. The latter can be done on the way to work, during your lunch break or whilst shopping at the supermarket. There are tonnes of fantastic pod casts out there, free to download on every health topic under the sun.
6. De-stress every day
Stress affects everyone but in different ways. Stress, whether it be at work, home, family etc. causes a cascade of chemicals to be released which if at consistently high levels are dangerous for our overall health. Free to down load 10 minute meditation Apps are great. If you find it hard getting off to sleep try then do in bed at night. Alternatively it can be done first thing in the morning.
7. Reduce your coffee or tea intake
Caffeine should be limited as much as possible. Try and reduce your intake by 50%. It will be challenging for the first week but your body will quickly adapt and you will not rely on caffeine to keep you awake.
8. Invest in yourself
Get a check-up from a dentist and chiropractor. Prevention is the best medicine. If you wait until you have tooth ache or back pain the cost and time of treatment will be more than if you get a regular check-up.
9. Make time for breakfast
This often comes down to a time management issue more so than anything else. A wholesome healthy breakfast eaten everyday will not only give you more energy throughout the day it will reduce your craving in-between which can lead to unnecessary snacking but it also it improves gut motility and absorption.
10. Plan your evening meals
At the end of the day when we’re tired hungry and have nothing at home to eat is when we make poor meal choices with unhealthy quick to prepare meals often accompanied by over eating. Try and plan your meals for the week so you know what you need to get. Prepare the meals in advance. Make a batch and freeze where possible. Remember your fresh, raw and uncooked vegetables or fruit from number 3!
11. Go for an hour power walk every week
You’ll be amazed at how much energy is needed to maintain a good paced power walk for a whole hour. Doing this on your own can also act as a great stress reliever and de-clutter the mind but getting a friend, partner or family member to go with you is great too. I advise doing this on a Sunday morning.
12. Minimise your use of electronic devices directly before bed
These electronic devises emit blue light which suppresses the production of the hormone melatonin. Melatonin controls the sleep and wake cycles. A reduction in melatonin at night is associated with sleeplessness. But melatonin suppression has far worse consequences than simply poor sleep it has also been shown to increase the risk of cancer, impair immune system function, and possibly lead to cardio metabolic consequences such as type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, obesity, and heart disease. So instead of watching your favourite TV programme in bed or catching up on the news on your phone put them down and read something real like a book or magazine.
If you are serious about making these small, easy to do changes to your lifestyle, then make a note of each change to its corresponding month in your diary. Also get a friend, family member or work colleague on board as well. It will help you keep accountable to the positive changes you’re trying to make.
Dr Callum Forrest is a chiropractor at Health Space Rozelle and Newtown, with a special interest in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of sports injuries. To make a booking to have your injury or posture assessed, call 9810 8769.