It’s that time of year where many of us start to make a list of new year’s resolutions to improve our health and overall quality of life. Many of us fall off the wagon at times when it comes to our health, however now is the time to jump back on and love yourself enough to make a few changes that will lead to a healthier and happier you for the year ahead.
As a Health Coach, clients often ask me about what healthy habits I think are important to incorporate into their daily schedule. Here are some of my top tips:
- Eat breakfast
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. A healthy breakfast kick-starts your metabolism, balances your blood sugar levels and improves concentration and performance throughout the day. Studies show that eating a healthy breakfast helps you to control your weight as it reduces hunger throughout the day and helps people make better food choices at other meals. It’s important to have a balance between good fats, protein and carbohydrates at each meal, as your body requires these 3 macronutrients.
Some healthy breakfast ideas include:
- A smoothie with water, chia seeds, spirulina, banana, ½ avocado, goji berries, kale and protein powder
- Oats soaked in almond milk, topped with berries and nuts
- Mashed avocado on whole grain toast with some smoked salmon
- Omelette with 2 eggs, mushrooms, spinach and tomato
- Enjoy outdoor physical activity for 30 minutes per day
Exercise is great for improving your mood, controlling your weight, increasing your energy and preventing numerous lifestyle related diseases. Exercising outdoors provides the added benefit of being in nature, which has been linked to decreasing your levels of stress, improving mood and improving overall focus. It’s also a great way to soak up some Vitamin D from the sun, which is needed for calcium absorption and a healthy immune system.
Some outdoor activities could include:
- Going for a walk
- Going for a bike ride
- Jogging around a park
- Pilates or yoga at the beach
- Drink more water
Our body is composed of about 60% water. Adequate fluid intake is needed to prevent constipation, transport nutrients, maintain body temperature, eliminate waste, aid in digestion and improve circulation. Every cell in our body contains water. Without enough water, cells will not function properly. Healthy cells = a healthy body. Our brain is about 75% water. Even mild dehydration can lead to headaches. The recommended fluid intake for each person varies depending on their gender, weight and physical activity level, however a general rule is to aim for around 2 litres of clean water every day. It is also recommended that you don’t drink water 20 minutes before or after meals as it can dilute digestive enzymes and change the pH in your stomach, which will affect the digestion of food.
A few simple strategies to increase your fluid intake can include:
- Take a glass or stainless-steel bottle everywhere with you and sip water throughout the day. As they say “out of sight, out of mind”
- Start each morning with a glass of warm water with 1/2 lemon squeezed into it. You could also use a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar instead of the lemon. This will rehydrate your body, alkalise your blood, detoxify your system and give your body a Vitamin C boost. Be sure to drink this through a straw as the acidity can affect your tooth enamel
- Place a post-it note saying “Drink more water” somewhere that you will look at regularly as a reminder to yourself
- Spruce your water up by adding a splash of fresh juice or make an infusion by letting some fruit, mint or cucumbers soak in the water
- Include more wholefoods in your diet
A wholefood is a food that is as close to its natural state as possible. They are unprocessed, unrefined and are free from additives and artificial substances. Wholefoods such as nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, eggs and lean meats are high in vitamins and minerals and provide our bodies with the building blocks required to achieve optimal health and prevent disease. A few ways to include more wholefoods in your diet include:
- Use nuts, seeds and fruits in your smoothies
- Snack on some chopped up carrot, celery, cucumber and capsicum sticks with some mashed avocado or hummus
- Make a frittata with organic eggs and vegetables of your choice and keep it in the fridge to snack on
- Make a colourful salad with plenty of leafy greens to have with some lean meat or lentils
- Make a lentil and vegetable soup and freeze portions of it so that you can pull it out of the freezer for a healthy dinner when you don’t feel like cooking
- Connect with others
There are many proven health benefits of fostering healthy relationships, whether it be with friends, family or work colleagues. Having people in your life who you can connect with has been proven to help ward off depression, provide support and boost self-esteem. Studies also show that people with a larger circle or friends tend to have a longer life expectancy than people who don’t have many people in their social circle. Having people in our lives who we can share our journey with can elevate our level of happiness and enrich our lives in numerous ways. A few ways to connect with others could include:
- Grab a cup of coffee with a friend that you haven’t seen in a while
- Call a loved one to see how they are
- Host a dinner party at your place and invite people who make you smile
- Pick a beautiful spot and have a picnic with someone special
- Always see the glass as half full
Life is always going to throw us curveballs. It can be hard at times to stay optimistic when times are tough, however there are proven health benefits to looking on the bright side and slapping on a smile. Researchers have found that some of the health benefits of positive thinking include better psychological and physical wellbeing, greater immunity, increased life span, lower rates of depression and better coping skills during times of stress. A few ways that I have found have helped me cope when times are tough include:
- Reminding myself that no matter how bad things are, there is someone in the world who is doing it 50 times tougher than me
- Reminding myself that when things were hard in the past, I always managed to get through it and become stronger and more resilient
- Counting my blessings and looking at all the things that I do have rather than the things I don’t have
- Telling myself that “This too shall pass”
- Enjoy Affection
Being affectionate with loved ones such as friends, family members and pets can have several positive effects on your health. Studies have shown that physical affection such as hugging, kissing and holding hands can improve your mood, lower your levels of the stress hormone cortisol, lower your blood pressure and release feel good hormones such as oxytocin. A few ways to be more affectionate could include:
- Holding hands with your partner more frequently
- Cuddling your pet whenever you get the chance
- Making an effort to kiss your partner more frequently
- Hugging and embracing loved ones
- Make time for self-care practices
Think of yourself as a bank account. If you keep making withdrawals and don’t make any deposits, you eventually aren’t going to have anything left. In order for us to have the energy to devote to our families and careers, we need to take time for self-care practices in order to be replenished and recharge our batteries. Remember, you can’t pour from an empty vessel. Love yourself enough to take time for you! A few ways to do this could include:
- Having a bubble bath with some Epsom salts and essential oils. Light a candle and sit back and relax while enjoying a cup of herbal tea
- Put 20 minutes aside to sit in a quiet place and meditate or pray
- Book into a spa and treat yourself to a relaxing massage
- Go for a walk to get some fresh air, clear your mind and soak up the sunshine
- Set aside 30 minutes and give yourself a mini facial. Cleanse your skin with some coconut oil, exfoliate with some sugar and olive oil and then slap on some honey or yoghurt and leave that on as a mask while you paint your nails.
- Surround yourself with as much beauty as possible
Each day is a gift and many of us keep our most valuable possessions locked away for a special occasion. Being alive is a special occasion! Don’t put your most beautiful things aside, surround yourself with them and use them every day. A few ways to do this could include:
- Wearing beautiful clothes that make you feel amazing. Wear that great perfume and your favourite coloured lipstick and don’t just save them for a special outing
- At the dinner table, use those beautiful place mats and the lovely cutlery and that pretty table cloth. Drink out of your crystal wine glasses, even if your just drinking water. Don’t just bring them out for special guests. You are a special guest!
- Keep a bunch of fresh flowers at your work desk and take time to smell the roses
- Decorate your home with beautiful things, bright colours and lovely fabrics. Buy those lovely bright cushions, hang that beautiful painting and display a vase of fresh flowers and light some fragrant candles
- Take care of your teeth
Research has emerged that shows a close relationship between gum disease and heart disease, which is the leading cause of death. The health of our mouth can impact the health of the rest of our body. Studies have shown that a high percentage of patients with heart disease also have periodontitis. This is a severe gum disease that is caused by inflammation. This inflammation is caused by bacteria that build up on the teeth, which make the gums prone to infection. Our immune system moves in to attack the infection, which causes the gums to become inflamed. Adopting good oral hygiene practices will ensure that you minimise the chances of this occurring. A few ways to do this include:
- Start oil pulling. Oil pulling is a traditional Ayurveda method of oral care. It involves swishing coconut oil around in the mouth for 10-20 minutes. Coconut oil is antibacterial and helps to draw out the fat soluble toxins in our mouth. I do this in the morning while in the shower and then spit it out. You can then brush your teeth afterwards.
- Floss every night after you brush your teeth. You could also use Piksters, which you can buy from the Pharmacy. They are small cylindrical brushes designed to slide into and clean the spaces between the teeth. Unlike floss, they have lateral bristles that spring out to engage and remove the plaque in the small crevices in between the teeth.
- Invest in a good electric toothbrush and good quality toothpaste. Brush morning and night, at least 20 minutes after eating.
- Make a cup of green tea and use it as a natural mouth rinse. It has antibacterial properties.
- Keep a gratitude journal
In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people build strong relationships, relish good experiences, improve their health, feel more positive emotions and deal with adversity. Buy a beautiful book and take time each night to write:
- 3 things you are grateful for on that particular day
- 3 people that your grateful to have in your life
- Goals for the following day
- Lessons you learned that day
- Get a good night’s sleep
Research continually shows that 7-8 hours sleep is recommended for good health. Inadequate sleep has been shown to have a negative impact on your mood, weight, memory and immunity. A few tips to get a good night’s sleep include:
- Sleep in complete darkness as even the tiniest bit of light in the room can disrupt your circadian rhythm
- Avoid TV right before bed as it can be too stimulating to the brain
- Try to keep electrical devices such as computers and phones out of the bedroom
- Eat a high protein snack a few hours before bed as this can provide your body with the the L-tryptophan needed to produce the hormones melatonin and serotonin which will help you sleep
Be Kind to Yourself,
Love Elizabeth xx