New Year. A New You!
12 Tips for you to Achieve Your Health Goals Finally!
By Karen Brennan, MSW, CNC, BCHN, Herbalist
“This year I’m going to lose 20 pounds, (or start going to the gym, or improve my blood work numbers, etc.…)
Why do we stick with it for only a few months, only to go back to our old ways?
Bottom Line: We do too much, too fast and go about it haphazardly. We place a great deal of stress and burden on ourselves to change and to do it right NOW! Then when you slip a little, say miss a day at the gym, you feel defeated and soon one day “off your diet” turns into one week, then one month….
Change takes time. You didn’t get to your health issues overnight. Be patient.
Here are 12 tips (one for each month) to get you on track to a healthier lifestyle. Adding in these tips, one at a time, will make them sustainable and they will become part of your routine. These basic tips are effective for anyone looking to lose weight, balance blood sugar, improve blood work scores, gain energy, improve sleep and much more.
Focus on only one step every 2 to 4 weeks. Don’t go out of order. They are in this order for a reason. Don’t move on to the next step if you are still adjusting to the one prior to it.
1. Consume 16 ounces of Water First Thing in the Morning:
This is very effective for weight loss, increased energy and removing waste from the body. Do this before you eat. Make it a habit just like brushing your teeth in the morning. Many of us are walking around in a dehydrated state and don’t even know it.
2. Add in General Supplementation:
Diet is important but unfortunately our soil is not a mineral rich as it was 70 years ago; the foods you eat today do not contain the same number of vitamins and minerals that it did pre-WWII era. Add in at the very least, quality multivitamin, magnesium supplement (I like Natural Calm powder to add to water)
3. Focus on WHERE you Eat:
Many don’t think this is a big deal but it really is a huge deal! I cannot stress this enough! Where do you eat? In the car, in front of the TV, at your desk at work, in front of the fridge, while walking, while on the phone or computer?
Focus on eating only when sitting down at a table. And not while working. Studies show that those who take 20-30 minutes to eat lunch while not working were more productive than those who thought they could get more done if they ate and worked at the same time. Have you ever been staring at your computer, a meal by your side and then look over and realize the food is gone and wonder who ate your food? You didn’t even realize you consumed it, let alone enjoy your meal. If you want to improve your health you need to start paying attention to this step!!
4. Add in Fermented Foods:
Save your money and skip the probiotic supplement and instead add in a variety of fermented foods and drinks such as plain goat milk kefir, kombucha, fermented sauerkraut and other fermented vegetables, miso (fermented soy) and tempeh. Add in one serving per day.
If you have any digestive or bowel issues you may have to start very slow and work your way up to a serving. Some people with a compromised digestive system can only handle a few bites of fermented vegetables per day the first few weeks until their gut health improves.
The benefits of fermented foods is lengthy. For now, just know that it can aid in weight loss, support your immune health and assist with mood, focus and attention issues and much more.
5. Focus on Chewing:
This pertains to number 3 as well. Now that you are not eating mindlessly while doing other tasks, now is the time to focus on slow eating. At first count every now and then how many times you chew each bite of food and look at the time and see how long it takes you to eat a meal.
Are you chewing 3-5 times per bite? Are you inhaling your food? Are you done eating before everyone else? Do you feel bloating after every meal or experience indigestion after a meal? Then it’s time to slow down and chew each bite 10-20 times.
It sounds like a lot but the breakdown of each bite of food is important for digestion and assimilation of needed nutrients. It also gives your body time to send the signal to your brain to stop eating and that you are full. Eating slowly can aid with weight loss, improve digestion, relieve you of gas and bloating and slow down the process of sugar and carbs entering the blood stream.
6. Swap out Foods that Contain Artificial Sugar:
Just because you may not drink diet soda, does not mean you do not consume artificial sweetener. Many products such as frozen meals, protein powders, weight loss products, low fat products, protein bars, yogurt, bottled juice and tea beverages contain artificial sugars (sometime more than one). It is hidden in many places.
Once you read labels you will be shocked to find out how many products contain this fake product. I get asked often “If I had to choose between sugar and fake sugar which is the best choice?” While I do not like either in processed form, I would have to say go for the real sugar. Fake sugar is now linked to diabetes, overeating of more processed carbs and sugary foods and it disrupts the gut microbiome.
Swap out diet soda for seltzer water with lemon, the low-calorie yogurt for plain Greek yogurt or plain goat milk yogurt, swap out the protein bar with a different protein bar (there are so many to choose from), and swap out frozen meals for crock pot meals.
7. Think in Colors:
If you have young children, you can get them involved and make this a fun game. Pick a color to focus on each day or each week. For instance, focus on eating red fruits, vegetables and spices this day or week. This could look like sweet potato, red bell peppers, curry powder, cumin powder, paprika, strawberries, pomegranates, radish, apples, red potatoes, tomatoes and so forth. Have fun with it.
The more color you get into your diet, the better this is for your health. Each color contains different phytonutrients that are beneficial for your health. So, if you eat just broccoli and green beans all the time you are missing out of many other plant nutrients by avoiding the rest of the rainbow.
8. Eat more Protein, less Carbs for Breakfast:
If you eat a bagel on the run, a muffin at the coffee shop, a bowl of cereal or just a piece of fruit, you are setting yourself up for low blood sugar, cravings, irritability and fatigue for the rest of the day. Unless you are heading out for a long bout of cardio you don’t need all those carbs in the morning. Start your day with a moderate amount of protein (i.e.: 2-3 eggs or scoop of protein powder in your green smoothie), add in some quality fats such as a few slices of avocado or handful of nuts/seeds and a small number of carbs such as one half an apple.
9. Bring lunch to Work Three Times each week:
Do you and your co-workers decide where to order from each day for lunch? Do you eat out more than 4 times per week? Besides saving money, you will do your body good to prepare a meal from home and bring to work. Already bring lunch 3 days per week? Then shoot for five! This doesn’t have to be complicated. It can be a “Mason Jar Meal”, leftovers, quinoa bowl, salad with protein, etc.
By doing so you will eliminate processed carbs, poor quality proteins and unhealthy fats from your diet on these days. Trust me, your body will thank you!
10. Make it a Rule: Vegetables or Salad at every Dinner:
While it would be great if we could eat vegetables at every meal and snack, I realize this is not very practical for most.
Make it a goal that at every dinner you have a dark leafy green salad and/or several vegetables. For instance, if it’s a salad, get creative and see how many different vegetables you can include in it. For vegetables, roast a medley instead of just one.
11. One Day Each Week Omit Processed Gluten:
While whole grain wheat per se I do not think is evil, what is causing some problems today is the processed wheat and the amount that we consume. In the past, we did not consume wheat at every meal and snack and it was not refined.
Refined grain is stripped of its nutrients, protein and fiber, so all you are left with is the starchy portion which contributes to disrupted blood sugar, cravings, obesity and systemic inflammation.
Ezekiel bread is better because it is not as processed but even this should be limited to one to two pieces per day. So, the problem is not whole grains (unless you have celiac disease, gluten allergy or gluten sensitivity), the problem is the bread, pasta, bagels, muffins, cereals, etc.… made from refined processed gluten/wheat.
Swap it out for whole grains or alternative flours such as teff, millet, quinoa, basmati white rice, coconut flour, almond flour, tiger nut flour and cassava flour.
12. One Day Each Week Omit Processed Dairy
Pasteurized dairy is typically from cows fed a GMO diet, cows that are given growth hormones and antibiotics. If you have health issues such as GERD, mood issues, weight issues, bowel issues and so forth, you may want to consider swapping out your milk, yogurt and cheese for fermented dairy such as kefir, raw, organic cheese and goat milk products as some tolerate goat’s milk better than cow’s milk.
For some they don’t notice a difference until they swap out all the dairy products for 2 to 4 weeks. This is up to you and is based on your health issues and whether you have a casein allergy or are lactose intolerant.
You can try nut milks and coconut milk and coconut yogurt as substitutes as well
Evaluate and see how far you have come in 12 months!
Keep a log and write each one at the beginning of each month on your calendar. In 12 months see how far you have come. Congrats!
Jan 15th, Sunday 2-3:30 @ Castle Rock, CO Philip S. Miller Library
Start the new year off right and sustain your goals this year! I will show you how.
RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org as space is limited.
If you are sick and tired of feeling sick, tired, fatigued, depressed, anxious and more and have given up hope then Karen’s simple, effective, individualized and sustainable approach may be what you need.
Karen Brennan, MSW, CNC, Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition (candidate) is the author of Tru Foods Depression Free Nutrition Guide; How Food Supplements and herbs can be used to lift your mood and owner of Tru Foods Nutrition Services, LLC.
For more information visit her site at www.trufoodsnutrition.com
As a nutrition professional, Karen does not treat, cure nor diagnose. This information is for educational purposes only.