Healthy Ways to Start Off the New Year
Move forward with optimism in 2019
By Hanna Kim - January 3, 2019
According to a national survey by Marist Poll, Americans are feeling optimistic about the world in 2019, with 60% of survey participants happy with life, thanks to their relationships with their families, success with careers, good health, and robust finances. Those who have proposed resolutions for self-improvement intend to make time for more exercise (13%), stop smoking (12%), and lose weight (10%). Resolutions to eating more healthily and being a better person follow closely behind with 9% each.
In our previous blog on New Year’s Resolutions You Can Keep All of 2019, I explained how to set attainable, low-stress goals as a strategy to keeping our New Year resolutions year-round. While nearly half of us set these goals, less than 10% of us are able see our resolutions through the end. Are you in the 44% of Americans who have set a New Year resolution for 2019, or in the 56% who have not yet done so? Move forward with optimism by adopting these ideas designed to foster a healthier and happier 2019.
Be Mindful of When You Eat
You are what you eat, and you also have control of how your body can respond depending on when you eat. A study in the International Journal of Obesity analized 420 women on a 20-week weight loss program found women who ate lunch earlier in the day lost significantly more weight than women who ate lunch later on (after 3PM).
Chief Wellness Officer of Cleveland Clinic, Dr. Michael Roizen explains how our circadian rhythm works: our metabolism is highest around 10AM each day and lowest in the middle of the night, when we should be asleep. Dr. Roizen suggests eating only while the sun is out in order to take advantage of when your body’s metabolism is naturally at its peak.
Be mindful of how often you’re consuming your guilty pleasures like steak or cake. Instead of attempting to cut out your favorite foods entirely, allow yourself to enjoy your cravings every now and then. Try incorporating Meatless Monday into the week or plan on having vegetarian lunches during the work week and rewarding yourself with dessert on the weekend.
Exercise with Friends
One of the most popular New Year resolutions involves more exercise. Meanwhile, a study of 7,000 elderly residents in Alameda County, California, found those with fewer social ties were at more than double the risk to die in a nine-year period compared to their peers with strong offline networks. Regular in-person interactions with friends and loved ones helps us work through our problems while reducing stress, depression, anxiety, and loneliness (which exercise also helps with).
Experts recommend a minimum of 150 minutes of physical activity each week, so why not grow your friendships as well as your muscle tone? Finding friends to exercise with is a great way to create accountability for your fitness goals and can help you have more fun while getting healthy. Try joining one of the many Run Clubs in and around Denver, or popping in for a donation based yoga class at RiNo Yoga Social. Yoga Rino Social is comprised of independent yoga teachers who hold their own classes in an intimate and welcoming space near downtown Denver.
Destress Your Mind and Body Regularly
A study in JAMA Internal Medicine of 3,515 participants found 30 minutes of daily meditation improved symptoms of depression and anxiety over the course of eight weeks. Stress gives us the tendency to induce more unhealthy habits and behaviours like drinking or smoking, which can add further complications to your health and life.
If 30 minutes of meditation each day sounds like too much to bite onto, try focusing on your breath for just five minutes when you wake up and before you go to bed. Incorporate proper breathing techniques using your diaphragm for deep, full breaths, instead of shortened ones just in your chest. Feel your belly button move in towards your spine as you exhale completely and expand outwards as you take in as much fresh air as you can. It also helps to breathe through the nose, as our nasal passageways contain nitric oxide, which helps dilate the arteries in the lungs so that you can capture more oxygen and distribute it through your body.
Visiting one of our massage studios in RiNo or the Highlands is also a great way to beat stress. Physical touch through massage therapy helps reduce muscular tension and also helps our bodies relax and release dopamine, the neurotransmitter that regulates movement, attention, learning, and emotional responses, as well as help us feel pleasure and satisfaction.