Feel and look healthier in the new year!

1. Exercise

This is probably one of the most popular resolutions every year, however, I think it usually fails due to unrealistic expectations. Start with small achievable goals, and aim for more frequency rather than load. Try not to exercise for weight loss but rather to improve your fitness level. This is more likely to create a lifestyle change that will last.

For example: “I will start to walk for 30 minutes 5 days per week”. “I will go to the gym for 1 hour 4 days per week”. I will do 15 minutes of at home plyometrics everyday. These types of commitments are likely to become habitual and easy to fit into your schedule no matter who or how busy you are. Again I would like to emphasize the importance of frequency (my patients hear this all the time), it is more important to do smaller work loads more often rather than big work loads at delayed intervals.

2. Eat more greens

The typical recommendation is 9 servings (cups) of raw fruits and veggies per day. I suggest this is mainly comprised of vegetables, primarily dark leafy greens such as lettuce, spinach, kale, swiss chard, collard greens and bok choy for some examples. These are an excellent source of vitamins, minerals and fiber, while helping the body maintain an alkaline internal environment. (Keeping the body alkaline can encourage a healthy weight and also prevent certain cancers).

Eating a large enough amount of raw veggies can be particularly difficult, even for somebody who is very committed. A great way to get enough veggies per day is to add them to a smoothy (spinach, kale, chard), eat a nice big salad as a meal, lightly steam for a couple minutes and enjoy warm with salt, pepper and olive oil, or add to a stir-fry or stew (the least healthy of the options but still a good choice). I do at LEAST two of these everyday, and often all 3 meals are packed full of greens and veggies.

3. Decrease/minimize refined and simple carbohydrates

Excess carbohydrate intake is the root cause of many chronic diseases especially diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Many people are aware of this problem but are confused about what is considered a “healthy carb”. The obvious offenders like refined sugars and high-fructose corn syrup in processed foods and baked goods should be totally avoided. Stick to small servings of “whole grains”, legumes, and fruits high in fiber such as blueberries, apples and plums. Many people are surprised that we should be cautious of eating too many fruits, although high in nutrients, sugar is sugar, and new studies are now showing that no matter how “natural” the form (raw, coconut, cane), the body still responds to it the same way. In other words your body doesn’t care if you eat a banana or a cookie, the amount of sugar is what matters.

4. Drink more water

Adequate daily water consumption varies for individuals but a general daily guideline is 13 cups (3 liters) for men and 9 cups (2.2 liters) for women. People who exercise daily, drink coffee or alcohol, or do not consume enough water containing foods like fruits and veggies will have to drink more respectively.

5. Drink less alcohol

I think this speaks for itself. Kind of ironic that we ring in the new year with a night full of heavy drinking while our new goal is to be healthier!

6. Start daily supplementation

Herein lies my favorite topic! Find yourself a good quality multivitamin. Yes I do believe that there is no better source of nutrients than food in their whole form, however, the reality is that the majority of us do not eat a well-balanced diet even though we try, and it is easy to let some important nutrients fall through the cracks. It is my clinical opinion that EVERYBODY should be taking the following supplement regimen. All of these can be found at Vernon Active Health, we carry top of the line professional supplements, there is no better source for good quality, safe, effective and most importantly affordable products.

  • Multivitamin (explained above)
  • Additional Vitamin D – at least 4000 IU per day (most multis only contain about 400 which is only enough to allow for calcium absorption and not enough to benefit from this vitamin and its amazing properties.
  • Additional omega 3 fatty acids – At least 1000mg per day of a good quality source to avoid contamination.
  • Probiotic – When you heal the gut you heal the body! I recommend a dairy-free source, that contains at least 10 billion of multiple strains. This will help keep your immune system strong and treat digestive tract issues.

7. Emphasize intake of good quality fats

There are certain fats which our body can’t produce on its own, these are called essential fatty acids (EFA’s). Examples of which are your omega 3 fatty acids. Eating adequate amount of these nutrients helps to maintain healthy inflammatory reactions within the body (fish oils have natural anti-inflammatory properties. Some examples of rich EFA sources are fish oils (high in EPA and DHA), Chia seeds, hemp seeds/hearts, flaxseed oil. Other types of nuts and seeds are also a great source of healthy fats (ie: almonds, pumpkin seeds, walnuts), and use healthy oils with your food, my rule of thumb is cook with coconut oil and use olive oil raw.

8. Stretch daily

A daily stretching routine will help to manage biomechanical imbalances that we acquire in our everyday activities, like sitting at a desk at work. Three stretches I highly encourage are:

  1. Pectoralis Major and Minor muscles to prevent shoulder and neck pain.
  2. Hipflexor stretches to balance the stresses on the low back.
  3. Glut stretches to balance the stresses on the low back.

Again, frequency is most important, do each of these 30 second each every day and you will soon start to feel a significant difference in neck, shoulder and back tension.

9. Less time watching TV/computer

Again this speaks for itself. Most of us sit enough during the day (at work, in the car) that the last thing we need to do is sit again in the evening. This only contributes to repetitive stresses and puts our body further out of balance. Take this time to instead connect with your family, go for a walk or better yet STRETCH!

10. Find time to relax

This does not mean in front of the TV. Your body requires the opportunity to rejuvenate, and refresh the mind, allowing it to escape to another place. Read a book, take a bath, do some yoga or meditate. Do not rush through life, learn to enjoy and allow things to slow down.

There you go friends! Have an amazing New Year!

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