(Guest post from my wise, beautiful, reasonable nutritionist friend, Colleen Flynn)
Happy 2016! Welcome to the Detox/Fasting/Dieting/”I’mGoingToTheGymEveryDay” Month.
Many of us start the New Year with a massive list of resolutions – “I’m going to detox, go Paleo, lose 15 lbs, run a marathon, give up sugar, go vegan, join Crossfit, starting NOW.”
Talk about stressing yourself out. Remember that small changes can add up to HUGE results. Taking on too much at one time usually leads to failure. Instead, pick one thing and accomplish that. Then add another, and another. Here are some tips on how to make subtle changes in your life and have 2016 be your healthiest year yet!
1. Skip the fad detox and find a plan you can stick to, and enjoy, all year long
The store shelves are packed with detox paraphenalia in anticipation for the New Years Cleanse. Colon cleanses, Master cleanses, cabbage soup diets, juice cleanses- these are all just temporary fixes and for most people they lead to feelings of failure and future binges. It is also impossible to reverse a year’s worth of unhealthy eating in a one week/month ‘detox’. Our bodies are naturally detoxing themselves constantly and as long as you are giving it the fuel it needs these trendy ‘detoxes’ are completely unnecessary. Rather than a fad detox program, try this instead:
- Find a healthy eating plan that you can stick to all year long. This way when next New Year rolls around you won’t feel the need for an extreme detox.
- Focus on eating REAL FOOD, which means tons of organic veggies and fruits, nuts, grass-fed organic meat, eggs, and lots of healthy fats like coconut oil, avocado, grass-fed butter, lard, and olive oil. Eating real food allows your body to THRIVE.
2. Find an exercise program that you ENJOY
For me exercise is a way to de-stress and empower myself and I want to look forward to it. We all have different needs when it comes to physical activity. Just because your best friend loves running 7 miles a day doesn’t mean you have to. I personally could happily live the rest of my life without ever jogging again. There are so many options when it comes to working out—kick-boxing, Cross-Fit, cycling, Pilates, rock-climbing, hiking, Zumba, Barre, the list goes on and on. Try different programs until you find the one (or ones) that excite and motivate you! Class Pass is a great way to try out different classes in your hood.
3. Focus on what you love about yourself instead of what you want to change about yourself
This is the one I am going to put at the top of my list this year. It’s so easy to look in the mirror and focus on the things we wish were different about ourselves. But what about the things we LOVE about ourselves. I truly believe that our thoughts have energy- so fill yourself with positive thoughts of self love and see where it takes you.
4. Say goodbye to caffeine
That daily cup(s)of joe that you think is making you so productive probably isn’t. Caffeine may rise you up for a bit, but once it wears off production declines leaving you reaching for another fix. Our bodies are meant to function without stimulation. Healthy eating, sufficient sleep and exercise will energize you throughout the whole day without the peaks and valleys caused by caffeine. Try going caffeine-free for a couple of weeks and see the difference. You may experience a withdrawal headache, which should make you think about just how much caffeine is a drug, but I guarantee you will feel more balanced and focused within a couple of days.
5. Meditate at least once a day
Meditation is one of the best ways to set your intention and gain clarity for the day. Start with just 5 minutes every morning. There are so many forms of meditation, but you can start simply by finding a quiet space, getting comfy, and breathing calmly, trying your best to keep a clear mind while focusing on your breath.
6.Give up refined sugar
Say it with me: “Sugar is TOXIC for my body and brain.” Sugar contains tons of calories without any nutrients. There are no proteins, essential fats, vitamins or minerals in sugar, hence why it is said to consist of “empty calories”. Here are just a few of the positive benefits you can experience by quitting sugar:
- Weight loss
- Clearer skin
- More energy
- More creativity
- More willpower
- Less cravings
- Less inflammation
- Less anxiety and depression
- Reduced risk of illness
7. Sleep- A LOT
Sleeping is one of the best things you can do for your body and mind. And yet a majority of people do not get adequate sleep and their health suffers for it. Having trouble falling/staying asleep? Here are some tips on how to wind down and get those much needed ZZZ’s:
- Make your bedroom your sanctuary by making your bed as cozy as possible with lots of pillows and soft blankets. Keep decorations to a minimum (to avoid stimulation) and fill the room with calming scents like lavender and chamomile.
- Avoid bright screens within 2 hours of your bedtime. This is easier said than done for some people so if you MUST look at a screen…
- Use blue light blocking glasses. These will block the blue glow from screens which suppress our natural sleep mechanisms.
- Make sure your room is completely dark. Blackout curtains work wonders.
- Avoid large meals before bed. It’s best to consume your last meal at least 3 hours before you hit the hay.
- Avoid alcohol- although it may make you feel drowsy at first, it interferes with your sleep cycle.
- Keep your room at a cool temperature around 68 degrees.
- Keep your bedroom a space for SLEEP (or snuggling and loving) ONLY. This means no TV or work should take place in this room.
Need some motivation to get to bed earlier? Here are just a few things getting an adequate amount of sleep is linked to:
- Weight loss
- Increased memory
- Decreased inflammation
- Lower stress
- Higher concentration and productivity
- Decreased risk of depression
- Longer life span
8. Eat coconut oil every day
Coconut oil is one of my favorite super foods and benefits our entire body and brain. Our bodies thrive on fats and coconut oil is one of the best fats out there. Here are some reasons you should consume it daily:
- Coconut oil boosts metabolism helping you burn more body fat and have more energy.
- It is a powerful anti-inflammatory.
- It is antibacterial.
- It is great for your brain and has been shown to improve memory and cognitive functioning.
- It balances both women’s and men’s hormone levels.
- It tastes amazing and is a powerful sugar-craving killer.
9. Drink at least half of your body weight in ounces of water per day
Water is such a part of our everyday life that we often forget how unique and essential to life it is. It plays a vital role in keeping our bodies’ cells, tissues, and organs running smoothly and when consumed daily, in the proper quantities, it can also prevent and heal many health disorders. Some of the benefits of drinking water:
- Drinking water can help you lose weight
- It will make your skin look and feel gorgeous
- It aids in digestion
- It can help prevent high blood pressure
- It can provide heartburn prevention and relief
10. Wait at least one hour after waking up before checking your email and social media
Use the morning as a time to keep a space for your own thoughts and ideas. Checking emails or Facebook first thing in the morning disrupts your personal time, distracts you during meditation, and will tempt you to start your day reacting to work and others’ requests instead on focusing on your own personal needs. You have all day to interact via email and social media. Keep your mornings stress-free and focused on you. Try one of the following instead:
- Sip a glass of warm lemon water and Himalayan sea salt to cleanse the liver and boost adrenal function
- Sit outside and breathe in the fresh air
- Write in your journal
- Make a list of a few things you would like to accomplish that day
Colleen is a whole-food and wellness enthusiast. She is currently training at the Nutritional Therapy Association to become a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner and has studied at the Nutrition Therapy Institute. She believes that food should please your taste buds while nourishing your body. Her passion is helping others heal and thrive in their lives by strengthening their bodies and minds through healthy eating and a balanced lifestyle.