Each new year brings a wave of fresh motivation to recommit to our health. With many of us feeling determined to make the year ahead our fittest and healthiest one yet, we are willing to try just about anything. By promising results within days, it's no wonder various detox plans including juice cleanses and elimination diets gain popularity at this time of the year.
Unfortunately the effectiveness of such approaches is close to zero. Truth be told, the only way to see long-lasting results in our health is by making sustainable changes to our lifestyle i.e. adopting habits that we can still practice by the time 2016 comes knocking. While the idea of a complete overhaul to our health can be daunting, we can take comfort in the fact that it's the small tweaks that add up to staggering long-term results. Here are some ideas to help you get the ball rolling towards better health:
1) Hit the grocery store: The key to healthy eating is planning ahead. If you keep your refrigerator and pantry stocked with appetising foods that are also packed with nutrition, you're much more likely to eat healthy meals and healthy snacks.
2) Set S.M.A.R.T goals for your workouts, ensuring they are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely. Rather than say I want to exercise more in 2015, be precise: I want to exercise three days a week for at least 45 minutes.
3) Colour up your diet: To get the best bang from your fruits and veggies, make sure you eat a colourful variety. As vibrantly coloured produce contain the most nutrition, eating an array of colours ensures that you get the benefits of all of them. For a quick stir-fry, try sautéing together some green broccoli with white onions, red cherry tomatoes, purple eggplant and yellow peppers. Towards the end drizzle with olive oil and a generous handful of finely chopped green basil.
4) Do your own cleanse: Don't fall for the idea that your body needs additional cleansing. While our liver processes medications and detoxifies any chemicals, our kidneys filter our blood and remove any waste from our diet. Unless one has been poisoned, we already have a super-efficient system for filtering out most of the harmful substances we eat. We can certainly boost the performance of our liver and kidneys by:
• Limiting/eliminating alcohol
• Avoiding processed foods
• Increasing our intake of real food i.e. lean protein, fresh produce and unrefined carbs
5) Get enough sleep: To reap the entire benefits of eating a nutritious diet and exercising regularly, make sure you are sleeping at least sevem hours a night. For a restful night of sleep, limit your intake of caffeine and alcohol, and also switch off from technology (smartphones included) at least 90 minutes before bedtime.
6) Sip more water: From speeding up weight loss to flushing out toxins, boosting bowel movement, increasing energy levels and keeping the organs responsible for removing waste from the body healthy, drinking ample water is key to good health. Along with drinking at least 1.5 liters of water daily, fill up on foods with a high water content including melon, celery, strawberries cucumber, tomato and zucchini.
7) Remove toxins from your environment: Rather than negative people who constantly drain you mentally, surround yourself with those who leave you feeling recharged and uplifted. While being healthy primarily requires motivation from within, a strong support system will give you that extra push towards achieving your goals.
Each week, challenge yourself to adopt another new habit and improve a different area of your health & diet. Before you know it, 2015 will be your healthiest year yet. Cheers to wellness all-round!