Source: Best Health magazine, January/February 2015
Ghandi said, ‘You must be the change you want to see in the world.’ January seems like a natural time to heed these words of inspiration. Everywhere we look, there are articles and advertisements prompting us to get healthier. Yet, data shows many of us fail just weeks into our new routines. Often, it’s because we make one rigid resolution that’s too big to manage. My suggestion? Take on a few, smaller resolutions that you can easily work into your life. By targeting the main pillars of health (sleep, diet, exercise and stress management), you can be successful and enjoy a path to lasting wellness.
While feeling rested and getting enough hours is great, sleep is also about rejuvenation and healing. Overall, we all need about seven to eight hours, but adequate stage four sleep (the phase in which our bodies heal and rejuvenate) and a consistent wake time are also vital. Studies show that shifting your wake time by 90 minutes or more reduces energy and increases body fat independent of diet and exercise. Get to bed close to the same hour each night and, more importantly, get up around the same time each day. I recommend trying melatonin. Taken 30 minutes before bed, it promotes stage four sleep and resets your sleep cycle, getting you back into a healthy routine.
After a month of holiday treats and sweets, everyone could use a sustainable nutrient makeover. Eating well takes a little time and forethought, so start by planning three to five days of menu ideas and cook more than one meal at a time. Make sure you get the right ratio of nutrients on your plate, with protein every meal and greens every day. Commit to removing one poor food choice from your diet such as sugary desserts. Or vice versa: Add in one nutrient-rich food, such as lemon, artichokes, and kale, which stimulates the production of liver enzymes to help naturally detoxify the body. We don’t need to be perfect every day, but we need good basics in our diet to create a healthy body.
It’s not just about weight loss; it’s about increasing muscle strength, improving circulation and feeling good. You don’t need to train like an Olympian; just play like one. Choose an activity that you enjoy ‘ otherwise it will become one more task in your day. It could be dancing, bowling, going for a walk or organizing a game of hockey or soccer ‘ just get moving. Ideally, exercise should be a regular part of your routine, but if not, start small, and increase your activity with each passing month.
December is the most stressful time of the year, and January is when we feel most of the effects from the rise in cortisol, our stress hormone. Cortisol not only increases weight gain independent of what we eat but also impairs stage four sleep, reduces our immunity by up to 56 percent and adversely affects digestion.
Take on less, learn to say ‘no’ and implement some stress-reducing techniques, such as deep breathing, massage therapy, watching a funny movie and laughing. I recommend trying a supplement with lactium ‘ a lactose-free milk peptide that immediately limits excess release of damaging cortisol and calms the body without making you sleepy. One to try: Douglas Labs Sereniten Plus. Also, add magnesium to help reset the GABA receptors in the brain and decrease stress hormone production. This is important because GABA is a calming chemical messenger but it must bind to the receptor to exert its effect. Stress, low magnesium and other variables can inflame the receptor, and interfere with stress reduction.