2016 is upon us, and with that offers a fresh and exciting start to a brand New Year - and brand new goals! This is a fantastic time to reflect upon 2015 on what we accomplished, discovered, and learned about ourselves. It is also a time to re-evaluate and establish our NEW goals for 2016, and there is no time like the present to do this. While we may have a wide variety of different 'resolutions', I truly believe that optimizing your health should be part (if not top) of EVERYONE's list.
With chronic disease remaining at staggering numbers (despite the best efforts of modern medicine) - clearly a prevention plan is more pertinent now than EVER in history of mankind. As with every other part of our lives, it all starts with setting goals that are not only realistic - but challenging as well. Below are my Top Ten Healthy New Year's Resolutions that will help your 2016 be one where you look, feel, and perform your very best. Please allow me to sincerely wish you a very happy & healthy 2016!
1. Lose Weight/Get Fit
This one tops most lists as the #1 goal - and for good reason. Being overweight dramatically increases risk for chronic disease including Cancer, Diabetes, etc. Most people set out with the best intentions for getting fit; however most are set for failure from the get-go. Having a plan to achieve a realistic fitness goal is the critical first step. This plan needs to address a multi-factorial approach (diet, exercise, stress, toxins, hormones, etc.) for sustainable and healthy weight management. Thus, fad diets (i.e. low fat, low carb, etc.) are not helpful to many as they are a 'one-size fits all' approach, not addressing your individual needs. Your best bet is to meet with a Healthcare professional who will coach you on addressing all the factors unique to YOUR physiology and emotional patterns.
2. Have more Energy
Who doesn't want more of this?? While most of us lean into energy drinks, multiple cups of coffee, and possibly even drugs to get us through the day - science is continuing to ring the alarm that this can be at a cost to our health. Try bringing in 30 mins of daily activity. Get to bed before 11pm. And ensure you are getting 2 litres of water (not coffee) per day. B vitamins, CoQ10, and a healthy electrolyte replacement are good supplements to also consider helping get the ball rolling! If these suggestions do not help, you may need to investigate with a qualified Healthcare practitioner a possible underlying hormonal/nutrient imbalance.
3. Quit The Booze
While there is merit in having the occasional drink with our family and friends, many of us consume more of this than we need on a regular basis. By taking a break on the booze, we remove one less toxin that our body has to deal with and remove, requiring energy and nutritional resources. Our liver is in charge of breaking down all toxins that enter our body, thus reducing your alcohol input will give your liver a chance to 'rest and repair'. Most people notice an improvement in weight, skin complexion, energy, and productivity when they take a sabbatical from the 'sauce'. Give it up for 3 weeks and see how your body loves you!
4. Eat healthier
While this is a broad topic, improving what goes into your body should always be forefront in managing how we look, think, and feel. Our nutrient requirements change as we age, thus we need to evolve with these changing needs and adjust our foods & nutrition as a result. We are all fine tuned machines - however we tend to look after our automobiles better than we do our bodies! Speaking of cars, would you put diesel fuel into a Ferrari?? Absolutely not. So why would we put anything but high performance fuel into ourselves? An easy first step is to try adding 1 more serving of dark vegetables to each meal (fruit for breakfast!). Current research is showing we need close to 10-12 servings of fruits and vegetables per day to meet our nutritional needs demanded by most of our current lifestyles. The darker the fruit/veggie – the better!
5. Stop Smoking
This one is a no brainer for obvious reasons. Smoking increases risk for almost all Cancers, Heart disease, Auto-immune conditions, etc. However, it is very difficult for many to give up, and many set out with great intentions, but don't make it past the first week. Once again - having a Smoking Cessation plan with your Healthcare provider will dramatically increase your likelihood of quitting permanently. There are many natural treatments available to help kick this deadly (and expensive!) habit once and for all.
6. Quit Coffee
This may cause some to shudder at the thought of quitting their precious Java - but this madness is not without reason. Excess amounts of coffee can be taxing on your adrenal system - the glands in charge of handling stress, and energy production hormones (i.e. Adrenaline, Nore-adrenaline, Cortisol, etc.). Moreover, it is also what we PUT in coffee that adds to the damage (i.e. Sugar, milk, etc.). While this is a daunting task to many coffee enthusiasts, I can't count how many patient's actually achieve MORE energy after quitting coffee, often within in a few days. For those who aren't that ambitious to tackle a no-coffee lifestyle immediately, try reducing to 1 cup of coffee per day but have as much Japanese Green Tea as you like. This will help reduce any headaches associated with going 'cold-turkey'!
7. Detoxify your body (safely & effectively...)
January is often a great time to dust ourselves off from the holidays and get back to business, including looking after our body. Not only do we tend to overindulge during the holidays, but we are also bombarded daily by toxins that lurk in our environment and are a product of our life-style (i.e. Food, water, air, stress, etc.). The best way to cleanse is to focus on your digestive tract, liver, kidneys and lymphatic system. A common misconception is that all detoxification strategies are safe for everyone. A custom plan designed for your specific goals, and presenting symptoms is the recommended choice to ensure your detoxification program is not only safe but effective for you and your specific biochemistry.
8. Reduce Sugar
Did you know the average Canadian consumes 68lbs of refined sugar per year?? Excess amounts of refined sugar are key players in much of the increasing amounts of chronic disease facing developed nations today. Current medical literature is now showing that refined sugar common in our Standard American Diet (SAD) is playing a major role in chronic disease such as Obesity, Diabetes, Heart Disease, and Cancer - and now linked to Alzheimer's Disease. Despite clever marketing tactics, we continue to devour foods at alarming rates that are filled with refined sugars, oils, and chemicals that are proven to be detrimental to our health. Eating fruits that are naturally sweet do not pose a problem - eat away. If you still must sweeten your food, do not fall into the trap of artificial sweeteners as they are neurotoxic and linked to Cancer. Try adding Stevia (natural safe sweetener) or even a bit of raw honey!
9. Manage/Reduce Stress
Stress is a killer. What makes stress lethal is not IF we have stress - but rather how we MANAGE stress. Having some forms of stress in our life can actually be very healthy - this is Eustress. Distress, on the other hand, is the category of stress that is unhealthy and common in our daily routine. Unmanaged stress is yet another risk factor for chronic disease, early aging, and reduced immune function. An easy exercise to adapt into our daily routine is deep breathing. Taking deep breaths throughout the day has been demonstrated to consistently lower levels of stress hormones, thus saving our often over-worked Adrenal Gland system. This can also be achieved by regular exercise, especially Yoga. Simple urine and saliva tests can help uncover more details on how your body handles stress helping to guide support
10. Have a positive outlook
Once again, modern research is showing that those who approach each day with a positive outlook live longer on average, and lead a higher quality life as well. The act of giving thanks, being grateful, and overall acting to others in a kind way is demonstrated to boost levels of serotonin, dopamine and other beneficial neurotransmitters linked to feeling a positive state of mind. Regular exercise is another helpful tool to boost these 'feel good' molecules. Another simple exercise that will help is to start your day by giving thanks for 3 things in your life. Even write them down on paper, and get in the habit of doing this daily. As a side, did you know that it takes 43 muscles to frown, but only 17 muscles to smile?? In the words of Bobby Mcferrin - "Don't worry, be happy!"
Test your Hormones!
The Adrenal Hormone Panel is a popular hormone test offered at The Dempster Clinic. This test measures a persons ability to cope with stress, which as you just read, is a major factor in maintaining good health. Since it is not possible to remove stress from daily life, it is important that your body manages stress the best it can.