New Year, New Health, New You

Healthy climb

Happy New Year! How was your 2015? Did you achieve your goals? Did you make progress with your dreams for your life and work? Those of you who have been concentrating on your health will know how difficult it can be to keep the momentum going.

Looking forward to the New Year

So what do we need to consider when we embark on the New Year ahead? Firstly, we need to decide whether we are going to change something, or if all is well, to improve on a certain aspect of your life, whether personal or professional. It’s important to challenge ourselves, so we can plan ahead and constantly work towards improvement.

The problem with not challenging ourselves, is that we stay the same. We remain in our comfort zone, and this gets old. Only fear holds us back, and that can be crippling.

breathe with nature - Happy New Year

In this post, I will concentrate on health and fitness. You may have other areas of your life you want to improve – use this post as a trigger to help you come up with ways in which you can make improvements too, it’s a new year for all aspects of our life and work.

The first thing we can do to get us on the right track is a basic all over check up with our GP. This will outline any deficiencies in Vitamins or Minerals (including all important Iron). Then we can take action and look after the different areas of our health and fitness.

12 ways to maintain good fitness and health

1 Breathe

Breathing can reduce stress and counteract possible high confrontation. We all heard the saying “take a deep breath and count to ten” when in stressful situations. Dr. Robert Epstein, instructor at the Rady School of Management at the University of California San Diego, explains: “As your rage swells, exhale fully and then, just as you’re at the end of your exhale, blow hard. This expels the remaining air that’s trapped in your lungs and counteracts the dangerous tendency to breathe shallowly when you feel threatened. Shallow breathing circulates toxins in your bloodstream and makes you panicky.”

2 Water

Research by AXA PPP Healthcare shows that 25% of children don’t drink enough water, which can result in a 10% drop in performance. Time magazine reported also that 25% of all American children did not drink enough plain water. So it must begin with education. Teach your kids and yourself that foods such as lettuce and cucumbers contain high percentages of water and are rehydrating. Also remember that just because it’s cold outside, does not mean you do not need to drink water. Central heating and open fires dry out the air in a room, so it’s just as important to drink the standard 8 glasses per day to remain hydrated.

3 Stress

US research shows that exercise fools your body into thinking you are escaping the source of stress, making you feel better immediately. Plus your circulation improves, and damaging stress hormones are flushed from the body. We should exercise at least 30 minutes a day, and build it into our daily routine.

4 Exercise

As well as being a stress eliminator and feel good booster, exercise raises the body’s temperature, causing  you to feel more calm and comfortable. For exercise to work, a proper plan must be set out. It can be helpful to enlist a friend to exercise with you, so help with routine.

5 Planning

Nothing like a good plan to get you in action. Planning focuses you on the tasks at hand and creates the path for completion of those tasks. Visualising the outcome will put you in far better mood about achieving your goals and better equip you for positive action.

6 Detox

A short sharp detox is a great way to cleanse the body. Make sure you keep your body rehydrated. Detox is for getting rid of toxins, which regular drinking of water will help flush out as you go through the program. A great simple detox for your liver (before you hit the hay on a Sat night) is to drink 8 drops of Milk Thistle in a glass of water.

7 Herbal boost

Herbal remedies are excellent for strengthening any weak areas of the body. If you suffer from cold hands and feet, that is a sign of poor circulation. Ginger infusions are great for boosting the circulation. Others include Cayenne and Ginkgo.

8 Immunity

Give your immune system an extra boost by topping up on your levels of Vitamin C (citrus fruits, kiwis, peppers, broccoli, mangoes, papaya) and Echinacea which is great for combatting bacteria, viruses and fungus infections. A great all-rounder! It works hard to stimulate the production of white blood cells, whose job is to fight infection.

9 Defence

As well as disease defence, it is important that we learn how to defend ourselves physically and look after our immediate safety. It’s a good time to embark on a First Aid course, and take up a fun-fitness-personal safety class such as Judo or Karate or Kick-Boxing. You will learn the basic skills of defence, you will be active at lease once a week, and you will meet others socially also.

10 Socialise

Another way to meet new people and make new contacts is to join a social group or attend a weekly night course. Spending time with others allows us to discuss different topics, increase our overall general knowledge, engage in debate and accept others’ points of view. We gain a healthier mental attitude. We are sociable beings and not meant to spend excessive time alone.

11 Eat Colour

We have all heard the term “Eat your greens”. Other colours such as Red, orange, yellow, blue also have much-needed benefits:

Green: Chlorophyll helps suppress inflammation, prevent cell mutation and strengthen immunity. Eat artichokes, asparagus, curly kale, avocados, apples, grapes.

Red: Lycopena (carotenoid) turns into the antioxidant vitamin A which helps guard against damage by free radicals. Eat tomatoes (cooked), beetroot, red onions, cherries.

Orange: Carontenoids and Bioflavonoids. Bioflavonoids help decrease inflammation and work against the development of cancer, and heart disease. They also act as a natural antibiotic, and help against food poisoning. Eat carrots, peppers, squash, apricots, mangoes.

Yellow: Carotenoids, Lutein and Zeaxanthin. Counteracting effects of blindness later in life.Limonene found in the rind of citrus fruits boosts liver enzymes involved in detoxifying cancer-causing chemicals. Eat peppers, sweetcorn, pineapples, lemons, grapefruit

Blue: Rich in Anthocyanins that help reduce inflammation related to the formation of malignant tumours. Helpful for memory. Red grapes are rich in polyphenols, helpful in reducing blood pressure and the prevention of blood clots. Eat aubergines, blackberries, purple grapes, blueberries, plums and blue cabbage.

leave SAD behind - new year

12 Leave SAD behind

SAD (Seasonal affective Syndrome) is a recognised condition and can leave us unmotivated and sullen at the best of times, especially after the huge indulgence over the Christmas and New Year period. Symptoms are over-sleeping, over-eating, lethargy and depression. You can counteract the symptoms by getting out in the fresh air more and increase the levels of eggs, milk and nuts in your diet to boost serotonin levels, thereby enhancing your mood and easing tension. Low levels of Vitamin D also contribute to SAD, so your GP may recommend a dose of daily Vitamin D to supplement the body. Light therapy has been known to help and you could embark on a daily dose of Siberian Ginseng – a proven herbal tonic.

So there are 12 different ways you can boost your health and fitness for the new year. Even if you took on one a month over the course of 2016, you are giving your body, mind and soul a better chance to survive the daily toils of modern living. Setting goals in advance helps us plan our goals for throughout the year. Coaching plays a key role here in goal setting and action planning. But nothing happens without action, get the ball rolling and coach yourself into being pro-active in your health.

[Our post appeared in Life & Fitness Magazine and is updated and reposted here]