Last year, I kind of got away from eating produce as the main part of my diet. I had long left my vegan diet, and hadn’t been vegetarian for about a year, but I was suddenly eating tons of meat, more processed food and a lot of breads and snacks. Being pregnant and then raising a new baby meant eating more for survival that for health. Even with all of my prepping, it was “eat this pre-made food, or don’t eat anything at all”, for a few months after our baby was born. I needed food I could make quickly, or wouldn’t have to explain to someone how to make. This meant a ton of pre-made meals, as healthy as we could get them, and a lot of eating out.
Now that we are slowly rising out of survival mode and into a new year, it is the perfect time to get back to healthier habits again.
Instead of going on some crazy, restrictive diet, or even focusing on things I can’t have, I am focusing on what I can do to improve my healthy eating, fitness and overall wellness. This includes drinking more water, eating more veggies and treating my body and mind better.
These are my ways of getting (and staying) healthy in the New Year.
Drinking more is one of the easiest ways to feel better and be healthier. Being dehydrated can make you feel tired and sick, give you headaches and even make you think you are hungry, causing you to snack more. Proper hydration means you feel better, have a clearer head, digest food better and potentially eat less junk. You can also make you beverages a bit more interesting and “healing”, by adding spices and superfoods to up the health benefits. The trick is to make sure you are drinking beverages that actually hydrate you, not sugar or caffeine loaded drinks that will dehydrate you and make you feel worse.
Opt for hot lemon water, sprinkled with ginger, cayenne and/or cinnamon, and maybe even a splash or apple cider vinegar or honey; aloe water or juice to help detox, hydrate and improve digestion; coconut or maple water to help replenish electrolytes after a tough sweat session or when you feel depleted; sparkling water when you need a fizzy drink; and plain water. (PS Detox Water aloe water is my favorite and you can get it 30% off until January 18th here)
Crowd In, Not Cut Out
Instead of cutting out meat and dairy, and even junk food, opt to add in more vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and whole grains. You won’t only eat these, but you’ll start to add more of these to your daily snacks and meals. Try to have a piece of fruit or some nuts with your snack to balance it out (I like dark chocolate, raw cashews and an apple), without feeling like you have to give up your favorite snack. Make sure to add a healthy vegetable to your dinner and lunch to make it healthier. As for breakfast, try adding veggies with your eggs, a side of fruit or even a healthier oatmeal with some fruit, nuts and yogurt.
When you add these ingredients in slowly, you’ll find it easier to make small changes each week or day. The more you add healthy, fresh, whole ingredients into your diet, the less room there will be for the things you want to cut back on. This way, you naturally and gradually make changes to your diet, instead of forcing a big change all at once. This gradual shift will make it easier to do and make it easier to stick to in the long term. It will become a lifestyle, rather than a “diet”, which is what you are really after.
Instead of vowing to exercise more, just think about moving better and smarter. The fitness and wellness industry usually promote a mindset or no pain, no gain when it comes to working out. This means intense workouts, minimal stretching and short amounts of time. It sounds great, but can backfire and lead to injuries and setbacks.
Not all days should be intense and not all days should be light. Most importantly, it should be enjoyable. There might be days when intense workouts feel good, but other days it might be better to gently stretch out. Look at how your body is feeling, your energy levels and what you are really wanting to do – not just what your fitness plan or schedule might be calling for. You’ll start to find that there are certain styles of fitness that make you feel better, and some that make you feel bad mentally and physically. Once you start to notice, it becomes easier to do what is right for your body and get the results you are after.
This is usually the hardest of all. Relaxing isn’t just about taking time to veg out and watch tv or read a book. It is about giving your body and mind a little bit of time to rejuvenate after a long day or week or longer. Relaxing can help you to reduce stress both physically and mentally. This means you have less aches and pains, less mental chatter and stress, less brain fog and even better digestion. All from taking a few minutes to relax.
Try taking a time out for a cup of tea and a good book. Kick up your feet and laugh at your favorite show. Go get a massage or do some gentle stretches. Journal or take a bath. Whatever it is, just do something that helps you release the day and some of the worry that goes along with it. You might feel like you are wasting time and should be doing “something”, but remember that this is just as important. Your blood pressure, gut and brain will thank you.
If you are looking to relax with a little guidance, try this quick 5-minute meditation and breathing video.
These are not the only way to make healthy changes in the New Year, or at any time. If you have other things that have worked, incorporate them. Choose the few out of the 4 strategies that work best for you.