One Step at a time does it. Follow these 12 simple stepping stones to a healthier and more energetic lifestyle this year!
#1. This year, skip the overly-hyped diet plans and resolve to make permanent, positive changes in your overall lifestyle instead.
New Year’s resolutions are usually very well intended but have a similar shelf life to most of the fad diets that keep recycling in different forms, year after year. Unfortunately, your good intentions to lose ten pounds or your excitement about a trendy weight loss program usually fades quickly if you don’t make lasting, educated changes in your overall lifestyle.
This year, avoid setting yourself up for disappointment by attempting to change your entire way of life in a few weeks or months. Our priorities, routines, and patterns have taken a lifetime to establish and cannot be changed overnight. Instead, make up your mind to gradually change the bad habits or challenges that are keeping you from being healthier, stronger, and more energetic this year.
#2. Be totally honest with yourself when evaluating your priorities.
Exactly where does taking care of your health rank on your priority list? This may not be the year that you make it to the very top of the list, but if you have been neglecting your health for some time, at least try to move “Self Care” closer to the top three.
Changing your priorities is difficult for most of us, and especially challenging for people who are accustomed to nurturing others and putting themselves last. If you are one of those people, keep in mind that if you don’t take care of yourself now, eventually, you may not be able to take care of anyone else, as well.
#3. Take time to have a little fun every now and then.
To put it simply: Relax. Live a little. By taking a few well deserved breaks from the stresses of everyday life, you will give your nervous system some much needed “down time,” allowing your body to recharge your batteries in preparation for whatever exciting chapter lies ahead.
Many of us seem to forget that having fun and enjoying the gift of life are a crucial component in creating and maintaining a balanced, healthy lifestyle. If your life is truly “All work and no play” make a concentrated effort to mix in a little recreation and change of scenery in your daily routine. Spending time in the great outdoors nature can have profound health promoting benefits, so pull out your camping gear or dust off your bike and go for it.
#4. Increase your present moment awareness.
Possibly the most crucial aspect of maintaining a healthy, energetic lifestyle is to start each day with an attempt to become more consciously aware of the state of your health and well being at that particular time. Continue to do so throughout your busy day. When you practice living more fully in the moment, you’ll spend less time dwelling in the past or rushing toward the future.
Make an effort to be more aware in other ways as well. Pay special attention to the quality of the food you are eating, how much exercise you obtain, how much water you drink, and other integrally related aspects of living a balanced life. Keeping a calendar specifically for this purpose is a great way to start off the New Year. In addition, referring to your calendar each day and planning your health related activities will help you become more goal oriented throughout the year, not just for the month of January.
#5. Think of your body as your temple.
Most of us take better care of our cars, homes, and clothes than we do our physical bodies. We would never go for years without an oil change or simply stop cleaning our homes, yet we often neglect our bodies for years at a time. Treating our body like a temple is a foreign concept for many of us, yet the individuals I have met who treat their body with the utmost respect and reverence are generally some of the healthiest, happiest people I have encountered.
If you don’t know where to start with this one, why not make an effort to begin respecting and loving your body exactly as it is at this moment--not some perfect day in the future that, somehow never arrives. Your physical body must last a lifetime and although you can order many new replacement parts in today’s high tech world, you will still leave this earth with the same body that you came in with, so make it last.
#6. Make a conscious effort to prevent and reduce the negative effects of stress in your daily life.
Stress affects the way that all of the systems of your body function on a daily basis. Especially important is the fact that stress is a leading contributor to heart disease, the number one cause of death of both males and females in the United States at this time. Make this year the year that you start practicing deep belly breathing, get more sleep, take long walks, and simply do whatever you instinctively know will decrease the level of stress in your present life.
#7. Drink at least 8 glasses of water a day. Every day.
In my opinion, drinking even more than eight glasses of water a day is a good idea, especially if you live in a hot climate, exercise frequently, or sweat excessively. Every single cell in your body needs water to function properly and your amazing body simply works better when you are adequately hydrated. Drinking plenty of pure water also aids in weight loss and helps flush toxins out of your system through the organs of elimination.
#8. Integrate the Pure Energy Balance Principle into your daily lifestyle.
Every now and then, ask yourself, “Do I take in more energy in the form of calories than I use up with activity and exercise?” For most of us, the answer is usually “no”. As related to weight loss, the Pure Energy Balance Principle simply means that if you take in more energy in the form of calories than your body needs to function, the excess energy will be stored as bodyfat in your long term storage depots (which are designed for future use, such as times of famine).
The only problem is, most of us have a little too much energy stored away as excess body fat and will never need what are bodies are holding onto. Even more reason to increase your level of cardiovascular exercise and become more aware of what you eat this year!
#9. Maintain a strong, steady, pure momentum.
Sure, there will always be times when you lose your momentum, but avoid letting your hard earned progress come to a screeching halt. Remember, it’s much more difficult to get the ball rolling from a dead stop than it is from a steady roll. One step at a time, one day at a time.
#10. Practice consistent deep diaphragmatic breathing on a daily basis.
Breathing deeply from your belly (as opposed to shallow breathing from the chest) allows more fresh oxygen to circulate through your lung field and your circulatory system. Deep breathing is a crucial component in decreasing stress related symptoms, as well.
The next time that you find yourself in a stressful situation, stop and take a moment to focus on your breathing. By practicing deep belly breathing on a regular basis, you’ll be supplying more oxygen to your brain, making it easier to concentrate on the task at hand and solve whatever problem is causing you to be stressed out.
#11. Eat for the nutritional value of your food, not simply for instant gratification.
Keep in mind that the source and quality of your nutrients is equally as important as the amounts. It makes a considerable difference whether you obtain your daily fat requirements from grilled salmon or a greasy cheeseburger and fries.
This year, make sure that you eat plenty of foods containing health promoting antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals instead of trying to follow an impossible diet program designed by mass marketing geniuses.
#12. Make exercise and physical activity an integral part of your everyday life.
Not only will being active help you win the “Battle of the Bulge” but physical activity, stretching, and exercise can also help you keep your joints and extremities moving, thus preventing arthritis and other conditions related to joint pain.
By taking the joints through their normal ranges of motion, you are decreasing the chance that they will end up stiff and creaky, like an old rusty hinge. In the words of my Chiropractic mentor, “Use it or lose it.”
When you strengthen the muscles and bones of your body with the use of resistance or weights, you are also creating a more attractive and physically fit appearance, which is an asset in today’s body conscious world. Fortunately, doing all the things that are necessary to improve the overall quality of your health result in a more physically fit body as an added bonus.
Remember, it’s all about the journey, not the destination. By using these helpful stepping stones in whatever order you wish, you will begin to see lasting, positive changes in your everyday life. The good thing about making positive changes in your everyday way of life is that your healthy new lifestyle forms a solid foundation for the remainder of your journey through life.
Hopefully, when you look at your calendar this time next year, you’ll be moving steadily in the precise direction that you want to go.
Information and statements regarding dietary supplements have not been evaluated by the FDA. Dietary supplements are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Dr. Suzy is a retired Doctor of Chiropractic and active Health And Fitness Educator. The information and suggestions that she shares on this website are for reference purposes only and not intended to be diagnostic in any way nor a substitute for consultation with a physician or other licensed health-care professional. Always obtain a complete physical examination and discuss your specific conditions, limitations, and health history with the qualified health care provider of your choice before making major lifestyle changes.