The new year has begun and many people associate this time with getting a fresh start looking to renew body and mind and spirit. The pitfall many face though with making a New Year's resolution or setting big goals for the year is that it is hard to maintain the same high energy and motivation throughout the entire 12 months to come. Failure to complete these goals, frustration, and guilt often result. This year, try setting small, more manageable goals that will provide you with a greater chance of success. Instead of listing a health goal such as "I will lose 30 pounds this year", your goal for the year might be that you will pick a small healthy change each week or each month to start practicing. Here are some examples of small, manageable healthy goals to give you the idea.
- Renew With Food
Adding antioxidants to your diet helps protect your body cells from damage by free radicals, helps repair damage done to them, can lower blood pressure, balance cholesterol levels, improve blood circulation, protect vision, support weight loss, relieve stress, and reduce the risk of inflammation and chronic disease. Some healthy ways you could choose to incorporate more antioxidants into your diet throughout the year include:
Renew Your Spirit
- Drink green tea – Full of catechnis, drinking green tea can help in losing weight, reduce the risk of some types of cancer, reduce your LDL cholesterol level, increase your HDL cholesterol level, and decrease risk of hypertension. According to Roseville Health and Wellness Center's certified personal trainer, Harmony Boeh, R.D., you get more antioxidants from tea bags or steeping loose tea leaves than from instant, bottled, or decaf teas and 3 cups a day is optimal for supporting heart health.
- Eat a square of dark chocolate – Cocoa has antioxidant flavonols research has shown can improve blood circulation to the heart and brain, improve vision, and lower blood pressure. Stay away from milk chocolate and bars full of sugars and look for dark chocolate that contains at least 70% cocoa. Don't overdo even this kind of chocolate though as it can add calories. Stick to a 1 ounce square daily or a few times weekly.
- Eat breakfast and include antioxidant foods– People who don't eat breakfast are 4 times more at risk for obesity. Eating a healthy breakfast helps set the tone for the day and keeps you feeling full throughout the morning so you can avoid snacking. There is also research showing that having the same or very much the same breakfast every morning can help you eat less, fill you up quicker, and maintain your weight loss over time. Adding berries to your oatmeal, cereal, or just by themselves will help you start your day off with antioxidant protection.
- Eat algae – AFA bluegreen algae just by itself has lots of good nutrition for the body, but this antioxidant algae supplement not only gives you the nutrition from algae, but also adds in natural antioxidants including wild blueberry, green tea, and carnosine. Not only do antioxidants help fight off free radical damage, but they help nourish our natural adult stem cells which can then become other types of body cells and be used to repair damaged cells anywhere in the body. If your hectic schedule keeps you from getting enough fruits and veggies in your diet to provide antioxidant protection, this may be an easy way for you to renew body and mind with more antioxidants and all the nutrients AFA bluegreen algae provides.
- Eat an earlier, healthier bedtime snack – Research reports that eating an hour or two before going to bed can lower your stroke risk by 76%, but eating at night showed an increase of 3 ˝ pounds a year of weight gain. This indicates it is better for your health to eat your bedtime snack earlier in the evening than right before bed. Eating an earlier bedtime snack can also cut down on the high calorie snacks many eat at night. Start finding healthy foods you can substitute for your usual snacks and think fruits and veggies to add more antioxidants. If you eat candy at night, dark chocolate could be a substitute, for chips and dips try carrot sticks with hummus, or switch out a bowl of ice cream with some yogurt and berries. Get creative or do some searching on the internet for healthy antioxidant snacks. If you are still reaching for unhealthy snacks at night, stop and ask yourself if you are eating because you are hungry or is it more from boredom or stress. If it's not due to hunger then look for other ways to deal with these other reasons.
- Clear out the sugar – Eating refined sugars lead to all sorts of health problems, weight gain and can increase the amount of free radicals your body has to deal with. By reducing the amount of sugar you eat along with increasing your antioxidants, you can help reduce the amount of free radicals that can cause cellular damage. Make a date to go through your kitchen pantry or cabinets and read the labels. Dr. Oz recommends especially looking at the first 3 ingredients listed and getting rid of any products that list sugar as one of these. Remember that sugar can be disguised in products with added sugar names that end in –ose or sugar alcohols that end in –ol. The exception to those ending in –ose would be lactose from milk and fructose from fruits and vegetables.
Even if you have tried meditation before and had problems with it, give it another try. This time change your approach. Meditation is a great way to reduce stress, lower blood pressure, reduce LDL cholesterol levels, renew your Spirit, clear your mind, and establish a time of sacred space to connect with your inner being. There are many different ways to meditate and even walking meditations for those who just can't sit still. Try out different styles of meditation and find one that works for you. If you've had trouble with meditation in the past, start slow and work your way up. You may need to just start with a minute and work your way up slowly to more time. Find a time and a place without distraction and give yourself these few minutes filled with silence and deep breathing.
Renew With Movement
Start and end your day with body movement. Stretching as soon as you get up in the morning and before going to bed at night increases your flexibility helping you to get going in the morning and to wind down at night. If you can develop a routine of doing a few yoga poses, they can help you get in stretching as well as engage body and mind and Spirit. Then throughout the day look for more ways to move your body. If you work at a desk, get up and walk around periodically, stand up and walk around while on the phone, walk in place while reading a report, or take a brisk walk on your lunch break. A brisk walk for just half an hour a day lowers your risk of stroke and heart attack as much as 30%. You can also set your aim for taking 10,000 steps a day and start wearing a pedometer to keep track of your progress. Just using this instrument may make you more aware of chances to walk and increase the average number of steps for most women in this country from 4912 steps daily to the 10,000 step goal. Your goal might also be replacing inactivity with activity. For example, if you typically come home from work and become a coach potato, make your goal that week to skip a half hour of TV for an activity that includes moving your body. That could be going for a walk, going to the gym, dancing, riding a bike or anything else that gets you moving.
Detox To Renew
Our bodies have a lot of toxins to deal with including heavy metals, pesticides, pollutions, microbial toxins and solvents and the liver and kidneys are our primary organs that deal with detoxifying the body. In addition, having healthy bacteria and lining in the intestines helps decrease the amount of toxins that are able to get into the bloodstream. Bluegreen algae has been found to provide compounds that can help the body avoid build-up of toxins such as the amino acids methionine and glutathione and B-vitamin precursors. Chlorophyll which is prevalent in bluegreen algae also helps the liver by stimulating it, increasing the secretion of bile, and protecting liver cells. Research has also shown that bluegreen algae can help protect the kidneys from drug and chemical toxicity. Eating algae with these convenient daily packets that have 2 forms of bluegreen algae, as well as probiotics and digestive enzymes to keep the intestines working well against toxins is an easy way to meet a goal for body detox. You can also help your body detox by starting off your day drinking a glass of lemon water each morning. Squeeze half a lemon into a glass of water to help cleanse your liver and wash out body toxins and fats. There are also many foods you can start adding to your diet that will help cleanse and detoxify the body. These include apples, grapefruit, flaxseeds, cabbage, beets, blueberries, avocados, garlic and cranberries.
Renew With Positivity
When looking to renew in the new year, don't forget to add renewal of mind and Spirit to renewing the body. According to Dr. Andrew Weil and other experts, much unhappiness comes from negative and depressive thoughts running rampant through our minds. Positive psychology founded by Dr. Martin Seligmen was designed to clean out the mind of these thought toxins for improved mental health, much like clearing toxins out of the body leads to improved physical health. Some of the exercises proposed by this philosophy include writing down three positives each day of good things in your life and why they are working well for you, making a list of your strengths and finding ways to use them during your day, and once a week taking 5 minutes to write down all your negative thoughts and then tear up the paper. You can also increase your positivity by looking for random acts of kindness to perform for others or by doing volunteer work that allows you to be of service to others. Start becoming aware of negatives when they enter your mind and resolve to make a conscious choice to replace them with some positive thought.
This is a great time of year to renew your body and mind as well as your Spirit. Don't let yourself be sidetracked by past failures or by telling yourself you don't have the time. You and your health deserve and need to be taken care of and there are many things you can do that take only a few minutes to make a big difference in your physical and mental health. Set simple goals and take just one step at a time and you'll not only be more successful at meeting your goals, but will also see the big difference these successes can make in your life and health.
Bruno, Jeffrey, PhD, Eat Light and Feel Bright