This is one of the most important practices to take on when it comes to food, fitness and anything health related. The big secret to being healthy isn’t the latest superfood or celebrity workout – it’s consistency, and one of the best ways to cultivate a strong base is to commit yourself to the rules you KNOW make a difference to how to you feel. Start by setting one for exercise, one for food, and one for your emotional wellbeing. It takes the guesswork out of your day to day and will help you feel more grounded in your choices and the reasons behind them.
Your body has its very own cleansing system, and it works well if you give it the chance to. Birthdays, office parties, social events, holidays, dinners out, weddings – the list of alcohol-laden, sleep depriving, food sabotaging commitments goes on, and it’s too easy to burn out from all the excess. You know those times you dream of having a week off, with time to yourself? Well, the best way to make it happen is to plan it in. Planning a quarterly reset is useful for so many reasons. It helps you remain consistent, gives your body time to rejuvenate and your mind time to destress. This doesn’t need to be something extreme – but you should design it to address the major pillars of health; food, fitness, digestion, sleep and mindfulness. Whether it’s a yoga retreat, fitness holiday, a week of plant based eating and early nights or a full-on detox, schedule 1 week every quarter where your primary focus is to take care of yourself.
Insulin disruption, appetite stimulation, bloating, fatigue, moodiness… Repeat after me – NOT WORTH IT. It’s time to make the switch, for real. Sugar, refined wheat products like white bread, desserts, pasta and baked goods should not be a staple in your diet. It was fun while it lasted, but a world full of energy, good moods and body confidence awaits you on the other side. It’s time to embrace the good guys. Oats, quinoa, brown rice, buckwheat, beans & lentils can be your new best friends.
Cup your hands together as if you were putting them under a water fountain. This is about the size of your stomach – have you eaten more than this? Is your hunger gone? If so, you’re done. That slightly bloated, overly full feeling will be draining your energy, impeding your digestion, and should only really pop up for Christmas, Thanksgiving and the odd holiday indulgence meal. Mindful eating is hard at first – especially if you’re prone to being attached to your phone or computer while you eat – but if you slow down, chew, and relax you’ll be able to regulate what and how you eat quite easily. Set yourself a mindful eating challenge to kick it off. For 5 days straight, eat in silence, with no distractions. Put your fork down between bites and take a few breaths before you pick it up again. Choose smaller plates and avoid going back for seconds. You’ll be amazed at how your body feels!
Gaps in food are necessary for your digestive system to function properly, so loading up with food every few hours – even if they’re healthy – will result in an overburdened, under functioning digestive system. You don’t need to fast to rest your system – the most important place to start is with snacking. The general rule of thumb should be 5 hours between meals, with no snacking. If you are forced to eat late or need a little extra fuel for a workout, then a small, healthy snack is completely fine. Your digestive system will work better when you eat if you ensure it gets the breaks it needs.
We’ve heard the quotes – social media is more addictive than alcohol, drugs and even sex. And the research into mental health and social media and other electronic devices is quite compelling. Did you know that only 12 minutes of browsing social channels can lead to sadness, anxiety, comparison syndrome and reduced body confidence? Is your phone always facing up on the dinner table – even when you’re out with friends? Do you ever leave it at home? Regulating how you interact with your devices can have a hugely positive impact on your emotional wellbeing, sleep and energy. What are your screen rules this year?
Sleep is the comeback kid for 2018 and is the key to more energy, patience, joy, glowing skin, a strong immune system, sharp mind and better sex. Yes, rest is sexy this year. So what's the best way to optimise sleep? The big 4. Darkness, a cool room, no food or drink (other than water or herbal tea) within 2 hours of bed and no screen time 1 hour before bed.
We all have a favourite way to exercise, but is it at the sacrifice of balance? Having a 360 approach to exercise means cardio, strength, and flexibility, and is important for energy, resilience, injury prevention and hormone balance. The minimum national guideline for cardiovascular exercise is 150 minutes per week and should be your foundation and then you should build in strength training and yoga. It doesn’t mean you need to go crazy – even 10 minutes of yoga a day will seriously improve your posture, flexibility and energy – but aim to address everything in your exercise plan to optimise energy, prevent injury and set the stage for lifelong health.
Chairs, it turns out, are hurting our health. An abundance of research was released this year on the significant health consequences of being seated too much, and it’s telling us to get up – OFTEN. The average adult spends 70% of the day seated, and for every 60 minutes we consecutively sit, we potentially say goodbye to 2 hours of life. Our bodies are designed to move, but most of us (especially those of us who work in an office) are hurting both our physical and emotional health with the amount of time we stay seated. In light of the research, it’s time to get serious about getting off our tush. For every 30 minutes, try to get up for at least 5, and walk around for 2. Download an app, make it an office challenge or set an iphone timer, whatever helps you get into the practice.
It’s the one thing we say we never have time for, but the one things that rewards us with most amount of time when it’s practiced. We’ve all felt the benefits of mindfulness (think how you've felt when you're in nature or on holiday) – the joy and freedom you feel when you are completely present, enjoying the moment and unfettered by anxiety or to do lists. With the pressures and distractions of life, it can be incredibly challenging to implement mindfulness into life despite it’s obvious and well researched benefits. You don’t need to start crossed legged on a meditation pillow – whether it’s going for a daily walk (phone free), attending a yoga class, listening to headspace or giving yourself time to focus on your breath, mindfulness needs to make its way into your regime this year.