Top 5 Tips for a Pure January
The creation of New Year’s resolutions is a tradition deeply ingrained in society. However, the idea of a new fitness or eating plan in January can seem all too cliché and for some people, this type of resolution can be a source of anxiety and stress. However, for others, making healthy resolutions can be the foundation for long-lasting health improvements.
There are many ways to kick start your health and wellness goals in January. I challenge you to commit to at least one challenge and to move away from the all or nothing approach in the quest to continuously be the best version of yourself. This is your guide to a New Year’s system reboot you can easily incorporate into your life.
1. Consider a Dry January
Let’s face it, alcohol is a legal drug which has made its way into every aspect of celebratory society, but especially during the holiday season. The problem is that when it is abused it can have profound effects on your physical and psychological well being. Many people decide that January is the perfect time of year to take a step back from the intoxicating effects of your favorite cocktail.
According to a review article in the Lancet, alcohol is causally related to more than 60 different medical conditions and it accounts for as much death and disability globally as tobacco and hypertension. Binge drinking and even the regular nightly alcoholic beverage can disrupt sleep, increase cholesterol levels, negatively impact the health of your kidneys and overall, accelerate the aging process. There is no amount of alcohol that is safe for your liver, the organ that bears the brunt of this indulgence. The good news is that the liver is a very robust and forgiving organ until it’s not anymore. There’s only so much alcohol it can process at a time. Therefore, it’s a great idea to consider taking a break.
2. Eat Clean and Consider a Cleanse
Food is everywhere during the winter season and good food is celebrated all over the world. When you gather with friends, family and even strangers it often involves food. You are what you eat and if your food choices tend to be poor at the best of times, then it’s time to consider resetting your food choices to include items that can do better for your health.
January is a popular time to cleanse. You can cleanse for a month, a week or even a day. Whatever length of time you choose, start by planning and putting your intentions to work. So, what exactly does this mean? A cleanse is a shift in your diet to remove junk foods and to incorporate healthier, whole food and beverage choices. For a cleanse to be successful, look at your social calendar so that you can plan your cleanse around these events and improve your chances for success. Take inventory of your pantry and fridge and get rid of the items that are not a part of a healthy diet so that you’re not tempted by the chips, candies and other processed foods hanging around your apartment.
Here are the top foods to avoid when you are doing a cleanse:
Refined Sugar and processed sweeteners: cane sugar, acesulfame potassium, sucralose
Trans fats: shortening, processed oils
Processed meat: cold cuts, hot dogs, canned meat
Caffeine: coffee, chocolate
Processed grains: flours, bread, pasta
Alcohol: all alcoholic beverages
In addition to the above and depending on your health history you may want to remove more foods that are not on this list. Feel free to do so. In practice, I may add nightshades, peanuts and peanut butter, red meat, corn and gluten to the exclusion list as the consumption of these foods for some individuals can result in increased inflammation, bloating, joint pain and a flare up of skin conditions such as eczema.
Once you have completed a cleanse, it’s important to slowly incorporate the foods you avoided for 2 weeks. Take your time at reintroducing each food while taking notes on how you feel. If you notice any negative reactions such as headaches, joint pain, acne flare ups or a change in your bowel movements, take note and consider reducing the intake of that food item or incorporating digestive support such as probiotics and digestive enzymes.
3. Get Moving
There’s nothing new here. Fitness New Year’s resolutions are one of the most popular as 45 per cent of American people resolve to lose weight or stay in shape according to one 2017 survey. However, it can be one of the most challenging to stick to with most people falling off the fitness band wagon by February. There are some good benefits to choosing more movement as a New Year’s Resolution. Becoming more active can put you in the mindset to eat better which can create a healthy cycle. You’ll also get a regular boost of endorphins that may help reduce pain, improve fatigue and boost your mood.
There are many ways to explore incorporating more movement in your daily life. With a plethora of gyms, fitness facilities and studios out there, incorporating fitness into your life isn’t difficult; it just takes time and motivation. However, a fitness facility, may not be the timeliest or most cost-effective way for you to exercise. If you aren’t a gym person, explore other ways to increase your activity. You can simply start walking on your lunch break; or when you are at home, try turning up the classic R n’ B and House dance tunes and busting a move in your living room; or find an app that can provide you with short bursts of exercise that you can do in the comfort of your own home.
4. Be in the Moment
I’m at the stage in life where I’ve begun to hear of high school and medical school friends, patients and family members becoming ill or suddenly dying. These devastating events have reminded to make each moment count with your loved ones and to create the physical and mental space required to for these moments to happen. To do this, spend time connecting with your friends in a physical context and not just over the phone, on social media or by texting. Pick up the phone and make the necessary plans to go for coffee, lunch or to enjoy a concert and try to do this often. Cultivating these moments can reduce stress, create memories and alleviate loneliness.
5. Practice Gratitude
In a world fraught with negative happenings, family and personal illness and everyday stressors, it can be hard at times to keep pushing forward or be grateful for anything. Gratitude is the quality of having appreciation. It requires taking a step back from the worry, stress and angst to take some time to be thankful for whatever it is that you are thankful for. It may just be one thing, or it may be a whole lot. Each day, I challenge you to write down what you are thankful for in a journal or on a piece of paper. At the end of the year and at any time that you feel discouraged, look at what you’ve written down. Having and showing your gratitude can translate into better health and the willingness to incorporate healthy activities into your everyday life.
Creating a New Year’s resolution is an attempt at making a positive change for the betterment of yourself. However, I challenge you to move away from the ‘all or nothing’ approach and to create small tangible goals that you can work towards at a steady pace. As you make improvements in the area of your life that you choose to focus on, it will encourage you to make greater changes that will eventually impact all aspects of your life.
~Dr. Olivia Rose ND