By Chris Jones, DC, DNM
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This is the time of year everyone is making New Year’s Resolutions.  It’s an exciting time for most as we reflect on the past year and think about how we want to improve in the coming year.  The sad truth is that within two months, most have derailed from their best intentions and fallen back into old habits.

Instead of setting unrealistic goals and breaking them within a month or two, here’s some practical tips to implement.  Keep in mind it’s not about perfection. So these tips are best practiced with the 80/20 mindset. Nobody’s perfect. So shoot to reach these goals 80% of the time and you will be well on your way to a happier, healthier and more energetic 2019.

  1. Time Restricted Eating aka Intermittent Fasting.  There’s lots of research on this and the benefits include:  decreased risk for diabetes and cardiovascular disease, weight loss, improved gut microbiome and increased lean muscle.  How to do it:  This is eating in a 4-12 hour window during the day and fasting the rest of the time consuming only water.  So if you ate your meals during an 8 hour window, you’d have water only the remaining 16 hours. This may seem difficult but start with a larger eating window and then increase fasting hours as you feel you’re ready.
  2. Move. Keep it Fresh.  I don’t care how you do it but you must move.  Even if it’s walking around the block for 5 minutes, do it!  The next week you’ll be able to do more. Also, don’t force yourself to do anything you can’t stand.  If you hate treadmills, stay away. Try rowing, kick boxing or any other form of HIIT to get your cardio in.  A good place to start is 2 days of resistance training (ie…weights, machines or bands) and 2 days of cardio per week.  Benefits:  your body releases ‘feel good’ endorphins during exercise.  Who doesn’t want those? Plus, you’ll increase muscle mass and burn fat.
  3. Ditch fad diets.  Eat real food. It’s easy to think that diet drinks, protein bars/drinks and 100 calorie packs are ‘healthy.’  But they AREN’T. Most are loaded with chemicals, preservatives and other inflammatory junk like:  gluten, dairy and sugar. Instead, opt for real, whole foods like veggies, fruits healthy meats, healthy fats and nuts.  Your lunch and dinner plates should be about ⅔ veggies and ⅓ healthy meat as a rule of thumb.
  4. Drink ½ your body weight in ounces of water per day.  I know, it’s simple and boring but just the slightest dehydration causes neurons in your brain to fire slower.  Caffeine free herbal teas count towards water intake.  You can also add fresh squeezed fruit for flavor. Avoid:  Coffee, sodas, sweet teas and drinks with artificial sweeteners.
  5. Sleep.  7-9 hours per night.  Sleep scientists agree that a room temp of about 65 degrees is optimal and the darker the better.  Wear socks if necessary. Use blackout curtains and dim lights an hour before bed. Avoid alcohol and other sedatives before bed because they actually inhibit REM sleep.  REM sleep is when the mind and body heal and repair the most. No caffeine after 1pm. The research for optimal sleep is overwhelming.  All systems in the body, even the brain are enhanced with optimal sleep.
  6. Get rid of the junk.  We often think ‘what can we add to our diet to improve _______.’  I’ve worked with 100’s of clients and can tell you that subtracting the negative is a quicker, easier way to improve your health.  The three most inflammatory foods to avoid across the board are:  gluten, dairy and processed sugary foods. Bonus- reduce stress.  Chronic stress raises cortisol which leads to a whole host of health issues.
  7. Don’t be too hard on yourself.  We all get sick from time to time.  We all have birthdays and go through holidays so there will be times you splurge.  Instead of having a ‘I failed’ mentality, simply jump back on board the next day. Enjoy the special occasions but keep them just that.  Remember 80/20 and you will be well on your way to a more energetic and happier 2019.

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