Forget diets. Forget New Year's resolutions. You are building a new you, from the ground up, one healthy habit at a time.
You endured the election. You made it through Thanksgiving. And, for the sake of argument, let's assume that the world doesn't end on December 21.
What do you want your life to look like in 2013? What do you want to accomplish? What new habits do you want to develop? What old habits do you want to let go of?
About 40% of us make New Year's resolutions, and often they're a long list of radical changes that are very hard to make and even harder to sustain. That's why after one week 25% of people making resolutions have already abandoned them, and by July 54% have given up.
HERE'S A SUGGESTION:
Instead of making a huge list of New Year's resolutions and demanding of yourself that keep them all from day one, why not take a gradual approach? The Beyond Health Lifestyle is not like a diet or exercise program; it is a way of life. And changing your way of life should be done incrementally, not as an abrupt about-face.
Living the Beyond Health Lifestyle is about adding things to your life that are good for your and subtracting things that are bad for you. Adding nutrients and subtracting toxins. Adding fresh produce and subtracting processed foods. Adding movement and subtracting stress.
Here's an example list of things to add and subtract from your life:
Add to Your Life
Buy Organic as often as Possible
Take High Quality Supplements
- Organic vegetables
- Organic fruits
- Organic eggs and chicken
- Wild caught fish
- Organic raw nuts, seeds & sprouts
- First press extra virgin unrefined olive oil
- Organic coconut oil
- Sea salt
Develop New Habits
- High quality vitamins and minerals
- Essential fatty acids
Subtract from Your Life
- Use stevia as your sweetener
- Rebounding (mini-trampoline)
- Walking briskly a half hour every day
- Get eight hours of sleep
- Drink eight glasses of water daily
- Saunas several times a month
- Correct food combining (vegetables with starches OR proteins, not both; fruit alone)
- Stress reduction (yoga, breathing, medication, etc)
- Positive expectancy
- An attitude of gratitude
Avoid as Much as Possible
- Sodas, including diet sodas
- Artificial sweeteners (aspartame, saccharine, sucralose)
- High fructose corn syrup
- Partially hydrogenated vegetable oil
Add One, Subtract One.
- Processed foods (almost anything in a box, can, bottle or jar)
- Fruit juices
- Luncheon meats
- Charbroiled/barbecued meats
- Deep fried foods
- Microwaved foods
- Grains, especially wheat
- Processed oils (soy, peanut, corn, safflower, sunflower, canola)
- Eating starches with proteins
- Eating fruit with anything else
- Antibiotics, vaccines
- Over the counter and prescription medicines
- X-rays, MRIs, CAT scans
Here's the thing: Nobody can make all of these changes overnight. Your mind would certainly resist and your body might even put up quite a fight if you tried to do all of this at once. So go easy on yourself! Look over the list (or your own list) and identify a few things that look like they might be easier for you to do first. Then, for the month of January, pick ONE thing that you're going to ADD to your life and ONE thing you're going to SUBTRACT. Be very focused about these two things, just for thirty days. Go cold turkey on that one bad thing, and be consistent about adding the good thing.
During the month, you can also move in the direction of adding some of the other good things, and reduce some of the other bad things. But don't demand them of yourself. Your focus is on just theone item you are committed to adding and the one item you're committed to subtracting from your life - and just for these thirty days. The truth is, after putting thirty days of effort into building these new habits, you won't want to go back to what you were doing before. But while you're in the process, think only of sticking with the changes for the calendar month. It's much easier to skip that chocolate chip cookie when you can say to yourself, "I'm not having any wheat this month," than it would be if you were thinking, "I can never have a chocolate chip cookie again."
If you slip up - if you do eat that cookie, or if you don't take that walk - don't beat yourself up about it. Be firm with your intention to do the right thing, but go easy on yourself when you fail to do so. Harsh judgment of yourself will not produce positive results and is more likely to cause binge behaviors or abandonment of the goal. Be a supportive friend to yourself rather than a strict parent. Think of your new behavior as something you want to do, not something you should do or have to do.
DON'T GO ON A DIET
Most of us have plenty of evidence that diets don't work. The reason is they are short-term attempts to resolve a long-term imbalance, like trying to sprint your way through a marathon. Nobody could keep that up long enough to make it to the end. What's needed instead is a shift in the way you think about food. Instead of thinking of food primarily as entertainment, think of it as nourishment for your body. True, our bodies are hard-wired to enjoy things that taste good, but in today's world, many things taste good but are not good for us.
You're making life-long changes, so make them gradually. Make better choices more often - your body will thank you for it. And the more you move in the direction of fresh, whole foods, the more your tastes will change. you will come to appreciate the wonderful colors, textures and flavors of fresh vegetables, particularly if they are raw or lightly steamed instead of overcooked. You will begin to notice that you don't feel so good after eating some of the foods you used to love. A plate of pasta may leave you feeling sluggish; the cake frosting might make you feel sick or jittery.
As you gradually change your diet and lifestyle, you will begin to feel good most of the time. This makes it so worth it! When you give your body what it needs to protect it from what does it harm, it rewards you with a wonderful feeling of wellness - no aches and pains, no tension, abundant energy, and a calm centeredness. Then, on those occasions when you indulge in something that isn't good for you, you'll feel it more, because of the contrast with your usual healthy state. T his will help motivate you to continue making better choices.
You don't need to exercise either. Your body needs movement every day. Raising your heart rate and increasing your breathing is good for you on so many levels. But if you think of it as exercise, it will sound like work, and you'll think of every reason to avoid it. Find activities that you enjoy, that get you outside, that you can easily fit into your daily routine. Like parking as far from the store entrance as possible, which also spares you the sparring for a closer-in space. Taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Getting out and walking or riding a bike. Spending a few minutes throughout the day on a rebounder. It doesn't have to be grueling.
According to Al Sears, M.D., the latest research reveals that prolonged intense cardio exercises actually weaken the heart, not strengthen it. Many serious marathon runners have weak harts for this reason, and James Fixx, who "wrote the book on running," died at a young age of a heart attack while running, as have so many others. Dr. Sears' P.A.C.E. Program, on the other hand, involved short intervals of intense demand alternating with longer periods of less demand, and can be applied to walking, running, swimming, and other solo sports.
Start wherever you're at physically, and gradually get your body moving more. When you do this gradually, and in ways that you actually find enjoyable, you'll be building new habits that you can sustain for the long haul.
Diets, exercise programs, and New Year's resolutions all tend to fail for the same reason. They represent too steep a climb from where you are now to where you want to be. Try the incremental approach this time. Be the tortoise instead of the hare. Pace yourself. The slow and steady approach will get you where you want to go.
When you start listening to your body, it will tell you what you need to know. When you focus each month on adding one good thing and subtracting one bad thing, you'll be moving step-by-step into the Beyond Health lifestyle. And that's how you will make this year your healthiest ever.