A New Year brings new excitement for living intentionally, creating the life you want, and…setting resolutions, of course!
Over the years, our team of Wellness Experts has learned that the best New Year resolutions tend to focus on the small daily changes that lead up to big changes.
Over half of all Americans pledge to do more exercise and improve fitness each year and around 48% resolve to lose weight.
But we’d like to reframe these goals and apply them to a bigger picture lifestyle change that focuses on the importance of prioritizing health and wellness.
So we’ve decided that 2022 is going to be our year of Living Healthy. We have so many resources to help you live your best, healthiest life. Will you join us?
To Live Healthy is to Eat Well, but also to Sleep Well, Meditate Well, and Move Well. You find harmony across the full mind-body space and you reach a place of true health, true wellness, and true vitality.
We asked our Wellness Experts to share with you what it means to Live Healthy – here’s what they had to say.
FOUR KEY AREAS
1. WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO EAT WELL?
Eating Well isn’t as tricky as it seems. Simply put, eating well means consuming a variety of foods that will provide you with the nutrients needed to maintain health, feel good, and have energy.
There are so many types of diets but the truth is that there isn’t a miracle, one size fits all diet. And different diets work for different people.
The diet you choose should help you feel great, have more energy, boost your mood and improve your overall health. So many of us set New Year’s Resolutions to lose weight, but remember, your diet shouldn’t make you feel bad. You have to learn to listen to and trust your body. It will tell you what works and what doesn’t.
However, there are a few universal truths that we try to share in our stores.
- Eating Well means eating more vegetables and a wider variety of vegetables.
- Eating Well means moderating starchy and nutrient-poor carbohydrates.
- Eating Well means consuming the right types of fats in the right rations.
Vegetables should make up the bulk of your plate at nearly every meal. Vegetables are low in calories and loaded with nutrients and fiber. Leafy greens like kale, chard, spinach, arugula, dandelion, and beet greens are natural choices when you’re choosing to Live Healthy. If it’s difficult to eat more vegetables, consider supplementing with a Greens Powder. Greens Powders are very convenient and typically provide a large dose of organic greens from a variety of plants, such as grasses, fresh and saltwater algae, fibers, as well as herbs and spices, that we wouldn’t naturally choose.
Your body’s main source of energy should be the natural fuel from carbohydrates. (Unless you’re on a ketogenic diet.) Focus on carbohydrate sources that are more nutrient-dense from starchy vegetables and whole grains. While they are delicious, it’s important to limit processed carbs like white bread and pastries as they can lead to elevated blood sugar – driving fluctuations in mood and energy, and weight gain.
Not all fat is created the same. Bad fats can wreak havoc on your health, while good fats have a protective effect on your body. Fats like Omega 3s are vital to our physical and emotional health. Coconut oil, organic and grass-fed butter, ghee, olive oil, and avocado oil are great choices when you’re focused on Eating Well. Incorporating more of these healthy fats into your diet will improve mood, boost wellbeing, reduce inflammation, and even help you shed a few pounds. Only consume liquid vegetable oils like corn, soy, and canola in moderation as these are unstable oils that contain high levels of Omega 6, and have been shown to be pro-inflammatory. Fish oil caps offer a great way to supplement your fat intake and can help you maintain a healthy omega ratio.
If you’re Eating Well, vegetables will take up the bulk of your plate and there will be less room for carbohydrates. Instead of committing to lose 10 pounds, set a New Year’s resolution to fill your plate half full of vegetables at 80% of your meals.
Focusing on a veggie-heavy diet helps you naturally limit and control portions of other foods. At the end of the day, to Eat Well, you have to trust yourself and discover the diet that works for your unique physiology – leaving you feeling physically, mentally, and emotionally vital.
2. WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO SLEEP WELL?
How many nights did you sleep for 7 or more hours straight in 2021?
Probably not as many as you would have liked.
With so much to do and endless distractions, it can be challenging to rest. But for most of us, getting a good night’s sleep can be a real game-changer. But how many of us are setting the New Year’s resolution to sleep more? (More of us should!)
Restful sleep boosts your immune system and your mood, reduces stress, strengthens your heart, and helps prevent weight gain. Deep sleep is vital for physical recovery while REM sleep is where we store the day’s experiences in our long-term memory banks. Without proper sleep, our bodies and memory and our quality of life will slowly start to decline. However, we can increase the quality of our sleep to offset these declines or slow them down.
Not sure how to Sleep Well in 2022? Start with these simple steps:
- Get on a sleep schedule. Your body likes routine. Getting to bed at the same time every night will maximize your chance of quality sleep and will help you start to fall asleep and wake up more easily after just a few weeks.
- Make your room as dark as possible. Any visible light is a possible deterrent to quality sleep. This includes the light from electronics like TVs and clocks. Use a small piece of electrical tape to mask any offending light sources.
- Keep your cell phone at least four feet away and preferably in “airplane mode.” EMFs like the ones emitted from cell phones can be another deterrent to quality sleep. Invest in a basic alarm clock or one that uses gentle noises or emulates the rising sun to gently wake you up.
- Experiment with keeping your room below 65 degrees and see how your sleep improves. This may be difficult for some, but the science is pretty clear that we get better sleep in a cool room.
Supplements can also support a more consistent, restorative, and peaceful sleep routine.
A few of our favorites are:
- Magnesium: Take a dose (400mg) of easily absorbed Magnesium Glycinate prior to bed to relax your body and brain, allowing for deeply restful sleep.
- Melatonin: Take on dose (3-5mg) before bed to signal to your body that it’s time to sleep. Melatonin also helps you achieve better deep sleep and REM.
- Ashwagandha: Take this Ayurvedic herb to lower stress and cortisol.
- Theanine: Can be found in green tea or supplement form. Take it to cool out excitatory neurotransmitters in the brain and encourage a sense of calm. When the brain is calm sleep comes more naturally. A nice relaxing cup of Chamomile Tea or turmeric-infused Golden Milk can also do wonders to help relax and calm the body and mind.
You can try these supplements in any combination. Try one or two at a time to see how you feel or start a sleep regiment and incorporate them all into your wellness routine. Trust your body and pay attention to how it responds when you try these sleep-supporting supplements.
Often when we set a goal, we don’t consider all of the work that goes into the foundation of reaching that goal. But to improve any area of your life, from doing better work to losing weight to feeling happier, Sleeping Well is a critical element of Living Healthy that can’t be neglected.
Try out one or two of these suggestions at a time and see what a big difference small changes can make.
3. WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO MOVE WELL?
The importance and benefits of exercising are no secret. Doing more yoga, becoming a barre instructor, running a marathon, surfing more, and other activity-based goals are common New Year’s resolutions to set.
Moving Well enhances your mood, supports a healthier lymph system, gives you stronger bones, and enhances brain health. However, pandemic or not, many of us still struggle to maintain an exercise routine. Some of us lack energy, time, motivation, have to take care of children, work long hours, or have aches & pains that don’t make it easy to move as well. Resolving to move more, even when you’re already active, enhances not only your physical appearance but your overall well-being.
How can we reap the benefits of movement and get more of it in our daily lives when many of us face so many challenges here?
If incorporating daily movement into your routine is one of your New Year’s resolutions, start by reframing the word exercise by thinking of activity as one of the most basic functions of the human body. Take a few minutes to think of ways that you enjoy moving around, such as:
- Taking a long stroll through your neighborhood.
- Dancing around to your favorite music.
- Playing with your kids.
List a few of your favorite ways to move your body and write them down somewhere you’ll see them. Let this be your guide so that when you need to be active but you can’t motivate yourself or decide what to do, you already have a list of activities that you enjoy ready to choose from.
You can add exercise into your daily life in micro ways, too. Try parking farther away from your destination and increasing your steps, taking stairs instead of elevators or escalators, or carrying a shopping basket instead of a cart.
While we often associate exercise with pushing ourselves, Moving Well is more about celebrating your body and all it can do. With that in mind, add a variety of movement styles that get your heart rate up but also build strength and flexibility.
As we age, cartilage weakens and deteriorates which can make us feel still and achy which can stop us from Moving Well. If aches and pains are keeping you from being more active, experiment with reducing inflammatory foods in your diet. Sugar and other simple carbohydrates are key culprits. Consider adding supplements that reduce inflammation like Omega 3, turmeric, ginger, or collagen. Collagen is the most abundant protein in our body comprising 90% of our connective tissue and 90% of our bone matrix. Clinical trials have shown that daily supplementation with collagen can reduce joint pain, stiffness, inflammation, improve mobility & flexibility, build bone matrix, and speed recovery from injury. If you’re struggling to Move Well, consider adding some to your morning juice, smoothie, tea, or coffee!
Exercise is a part of choosing to Live Healthy but Moving Well takes exercise to another level and considers your limits, your needs, and what will help you enjoy yourself.
Your body was built for movement. It needs movement and while Moving Well, your body celebrates.
3. WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO MEDITATE WELL?
You don’t have to be a Zen master in order to take advantage of the vast benefits of meditation offers.
Enhanced concentration, improved relaxation, inner calm, and stress reduction are all shockingly easy to obtain once you commit to making time to meditate, even for short periods, as you get started.
Just like our body needs movement in order to stay strong and healthy, our minds need quiet time of stillness to increase attention and awareness. Left unrested, our minds can hijack our attention and derail our thoughts into rabbit holes that can leave us feeling stressed, worried, drained, and overwhelmed.
The two most common meditation practices are:
- Still or Mindfulness Meditation: Focus your attention on your breathing (most commonly recommended), a flame, a mantra, music, or a visualization, while keeping your awareness of everything else around you.
- Moving or Walking Meditation: Practicing Yoga or Tai Chi are considered forms of moving meditation in which you gain awareness by practicing simple, repetitive steps.
Many people find it difficult to suddenly dive in on a full meditation practice.
The good news is that you can start small. Meditate for 3 minutes a day for two weeks just to get into the habit. Work your way up to 5 minutes, then up to 10 or 15 minutes.
However long you meditate, be sure to set a timer before you begin. This allows you to focus on your practice and not on how much time has passed.
Meditating Well reminders to help you get started:
- It’s okay if you don’t stay “focused” the entire time.
- The most important thing is that you show up for yourself during this time.
- As with any physical activity, strength needs to be built up over time with regular practice, so make your initial priority to just show up and build from there.
- If you get antsy when sitting down to meditate, try to meditate after exercising or taking a walk. This will help release some of the physical energy you may have and make it easier to sit still.
It is easier, at least in the beginning, to meditate when your environment is inviting. Try creating an environment that feels warm and comfortable by adding plants. Orchids are truly inspiring and can be used as a focal point to meditate on, diffusing essential oils or lighting a candle.
Remember that you are not just giving yourself permission to slow down and meditate, you are actively cultivating mental and emotional strength that is vital for your overall well-being.
WHAT TO TAKE AWAY FROM THIS ARTICLE
To Live Healthy is to Eat Well, but also to Sleep Well, Meditate Well, and Move well. You find harmony across the full mind-body space and you reach a place of true health, true wellness, and true vitality.
2022 is a year for total health, not just weight loss goals.
Reaching your goals to Live Healthy takes some planning and awareness but the team of Natural Living Experts at New Leaf are here to help you find the answers, foods, supplements, and resources that you need.
As we all set the intention and make the effort to improve ourselves, we inspire others and give them permission to do the same. Living Healthy improves our lives on a micro level and also helps us begin to contribute to the improvement of our environment, our communities, and our world in ways we can’t always imagine.
Visit your local New Leaf to discover solutions to help you meet your New Year’s resolutions and make your 2022 YOUR year to Live Healthy.