WHY not do things differently next year? A habit takes a good 30 days to change, so trying to achieve more than one small change at a time can be a mighty difficult thing. How about setting yourself 12 new health-enhancing habits for 2013 – one for each month?
What exactly should those new habits be? Well, a lot will depend on your long-term goals (such as losing 10kg, improving your health, reducing your stress load). Consider these goals and work backwards from there, giving thought to the changes required to help you achieve them.
I’m going to suggest 12 very basic but important life and health-enhancing changes, but you could come up with your own or apply them in a different order.
Drink enough good quality water. Your weight in kg x 0.033 = your ideal daily water intake (not taking into account any sweat-inducing activities), so for example 0.033 x 60kg = 1.98 litres.
Eat enough good quality salt. Your daily water intake amount x 2.2 = your daily salt intake. So, for example, 1.98 litres x 2.2 = 4.35ml salt, which is just short of one teaspoon daily. Good quality salt would be Himalayan crystal salt.
Add more fat to your diet such as coconut fat, butter and cold-pressed nut oils. They ensure better blood sugar control, improved intercellular communication, provide the body with long-term energy and help tremendously with weight management. They will also rid you of sugar cravings.
Bring more raw food into your diet. Aim for 30% to 50% raw intake with foods such as salads, smoothies, raw soups, lightly steamed vegetables and raw vegetable juices.
Build more physical activity into your day through gardening, walking or cycling to and from the shops or work, taking the stairs and not lifts and escalators.
Learn to breathe properly! Ask a yoga teacher to show you how it’s done. This can dramatically improve your health as oxygenation of cells means more alkaline cells, which in turn means a reduction in the potential for disease states to occur.
Get more sleep. It is vitally important for good health and weight management, so aim for early-ish nights (around 10pm) and try for seven to eight hours of uninterrupted sleep in darkness.
Reduce the amount of processed food (packaged, precooked, preserved, flavoured or coloured) in your diet. Start spending more time preparing and eating good quality food.
Start thinking about the things you think about. Mind management is one of the most challenging things to accomplish, but is undoubtedly the most important facet of good health. Keep in mind just how potently our inner thoughts impact on our emotions, which in turn impact on our physical state.
Eat your food in a relaxed environment to keep your parasympathetic system “switched on” (this is the “rest and digest” side of the nervous system). You can do this by avoiding any stressful thoughts, environments or actions. So get used to sitting down and enjoying your meal.
Chew your food until it’s liquid. This gives your body the time to recognise what enzymes are required to digest the food appropriately and to release them in the correct quantities.
It also increases the surface area of food which allows your stomach acid to work more effectively, kills any pathogens present on your food and helps you absorb certain key nutrients from your meal.
Stay relaxed about falling off the wagon. It’s never a good idea to try and do things perfectly. Instead, aim to incorporate some not-so-healthy habits every now and then.
After all, we live in a world full of temptations that promise great pleasure and frankly, life would be a little dull without giving in sometimes.
Above all, have fun and enjoy the process of becoming healthier.