Oh, self control! New Years Resolutions can be very difficult to keep, and many times they involve drastic changes and lots of money. There are many empty gyms with memberships paid for with the best intentions.
The good news is that there are many resolutions that are cheap, easy to keep and come with technology that can improve your chances of success.
Let’s start with the basics:
If you’re not drinking enough water you‘ll notice a multitude of health problems including headaches, low cognitive function, fatigue, constipation, dry skin and increased toxicity.
Everyone needs a different amount of water in their body and there's an easy way to find out how much your body needs. Divide your weight in half and consider that number the goal of ounces of water you should consume. If you weigh 200 pounds your goal should be 100 oz of water daily. Even if you are only drinking a couple glasses per day, start slowly and add 4-8 oz of daily water every week. Eventually, you will reach a point where your body is hydrated and any more water is uncomfortable. This is where you should be regardless of whether you are above or below your goal.
If we are going to use water to reduce headaches and clear out toxins we certainly don’t want to add any more toxins by drinking out of flimsy plastic bottles. Find a nice glass jar or BPA-free container.
Hate water or just forget? No problem. Adding a splash of organic juice, chopped cucumbers or a freshly squeezed orange actually improves hydration. These exciting additions will turn your boring glass of water into a hydration party.
Try out some of the water apps (Water Your Body and Waterlogged ) on iTunes or Google play. They track your water consumption and give you annoying reminders to drink your ounces. No excuse, no problem.
As a health practitioner in and around the Washington DC metro area, I find that sleep is one thing that most people disregard. When the body cannot rejuvenate and fix itself it begins to break down. The ideal amount of sleep for you is somewhere between seven-eight hours, and it’s important to go to bed and wake at the same time.
Fortunately, two new fitness products have taken sleep aids to a new level. Both Fitbit and Jawbone UP help you track your sleep and the quality of your sleep. See my article for tips on improving your sleep.
We all know that exercise is important but can find it very difficult to do. In addition to tracking your sleep, Fitbit and Jawbone also track your exercise. Most basically they are both pedometers, telling you how many steps you have walked each day. Both have additional ways to add and track other exercises. Each morning when you wake up you get a report card of the previous days exercise as well as a sleep report.
Why do we want to build muscle? Many people come into my clinic asking how to increase their metabolism. Muscle is the most metabolically active tissue in the body. Toning up with regular muscle building exercises is going to reshape your body and increase metabolism. Short of hiring a trainer, my favorite app is called Two Hundred Situps and can be found at http://www.twohundredsitups.com/. This free app can train you in pushups, dips, pull-ups and many other simple exercises. This app will gradually increase the amount of reps you do in each category until you have reached your goal. It’s easy and doesn’t take a lot of time.
Time and consistency is the key to your success and a slowly tightening body with an increased metabolism is your reward.
Nutrition seems to be the most difficult aspect of our lives, because changing your nutrition means changing your lifestyle. If you eat cereal for breakfast, microwave you lunch and eat out for dinner, your stove is merely an accessory to match your refrigerator. Those seeking optimal health will have to learn how to cook.
But that is not what this about. Right now we are seeking better health so here are some tips:
- Protein: A small amount of protein at each meal will support that metabolically active tissue we call “muscle”.
- Fruits and veggies at one or two meals per day provide the body with antioxidants and phyto-nutrients that will fight disease and promote a long and healthy life. The deeper the color the better it is for you.
- Whole Grains: If you are like most people you eat one grain, wheat. Try branching out into some other whole grains such as steel cut oats, quinoa, barley and rye.
Reduce sugar and processed foods as much as possible
Sounds simple doesn’t it? It is and also doesn’t take up very much of your time. If you can breath every day, or every other day, for five measly minutes, you will improve your health in ways you never thought possible. Most people notice a calming effect as well as increased focus and productivity.
Here are some tips on breathing:
- Sit or lay down in a quiet place.
- Close your eyes
- As you breath in, push your stomach out (ie yoga breathing)
- As you breath out, push out all the stale air lingering in the bottom of your lungs.
Give it a shot! Start slow and don’t push yourself. It’s better to be slow and consistent that burn out in a month. By next year you will be a different person.
This column is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Naturopath Chris Ogilvie works at Integrative Health Center of Virginia.