New Year becomes the time when many people set goals and try to break less-than-stellar habits. For most people, this is the time to leave behind unhealthy trends and hit the total-reset button.
Health goals are among those changes. Statistics show that 45 percent of all new year’s resolutions include weight or getting into better shape. (1) In other words, about half of all resolutions include creating a healthier lifestyle!
You probably have your own health-related reset for the new year. While completely overhauling your health can feel overwhelming, I want to provide five strategies that can streamline the process and make optimal health more manageable. No matter where you are with your health goals, you can start these right now.
Strategy #1: Eliminate Inflammatory Foods
Your diet becomes crucial for a health reset. When I say diet, I don’t mean depriving yourself, counting calories, or eating bland foods for the rest of your life.
Instead, you’ll want to minimize foods that cause inflammation in the body, disrupt your microbiome balance, and contribute to weight gain. Inflammatory foods can even impact your mood and sleep.
For the next 30 days, eliminate these foods. (I suggest keeping them out long-term, but life happens, so don’t be hard on yourself if you indulge.)
- Gluten and all whole grain products
- Sugar in its many forms
- Processed and packaged snack items
I talk more about why you want to eliminate these foods in my book Happy Gut. Deprivation isn’t on the menu: There are plenty of gut-supporting foods you can enjoy that help you lose weight on my plan.
Strategy #2: Get Great Sleep
Sleep is by far one of the most important habits when it comes to longevity, weight loss, and good health. Yet, so many of us compromise on it because of our lifelong to-do lists. Or maybe we feel so stressed out, we can’t shut off our brains to sleep.
It’s very challenging to lose weight and sustain healthy habits without optimal sleep. Not sleeping enough raises cortisol levels and can even increase cravings. Lack of sleep and increased cortisol can also promote insulin resistance. In fact, researchers found that lack of sleep decreases insulin regulation by 33 percent. (2)
Aim for a solid 7 – 9 hours each evening. Have the lights out ideally by 10 p.m. to ensure that you have restorative sleep. Try to use the hour before bed to wind down and relax so that you can easily ease into a sound sleep.
Strategy #3: Eat Less Often
While the six-meal-a-day philosophy has been believed to help promote weight loss and health goals, I suggest taking the complete opposite approach. Give your body time to rest between meals. Aim for two or three highly nutritious meals daily and give your body at least 12 hours to rest between dinner and breakfast.
This approach, called intermittent fasting, helps regulate blood sugar and insulin levels. When insulin levels are in check, you lose weight and keep it off more easily. You also dial down hunger and better manage satiety hormones: When your hormones are out of whack, you tend to overeat and have more cravings.
Strategy #4: Reduce Blue Light Exposure
In our society today, we can create a completely artificial atmosphere at 3 a.m. if we want to. (If you’ve been to Vegas, you know what I’m talking about!) The natural light cycle doesn’t affect when we can complete tasks. This can be both a curse and a blessing.
While turning on a light any time can be convenient (like if you need to brush your teeth before bed), access to lighting 24/7 has its downfalls. Being able to create an artificial environment so that you can work deep into the night on your laptop through glowing blue light is not great for your body.
For one, exposure to blue light can increase the likelihood of insulin resistance. Participants in one study were asked to eat their meals in front of bright light in the evening hours. The research confirmed that this exposure to light later on in the day negatively impacted metabolism and increased the risk of insulin resistance. (3)
Try to follow the patterns of natural light the best that you can. Spend time outside in natural light in the morning hours for improved metabolism. Reduce your artificial light environment in the evening the best that you can. Opt for a real book and use a salt lamp or other forms of amber lighting in the evening.
Strategy #5: Love Your Gut
The health of your gut is crucial to your weight. Obesity goes hand-in-hand with microbiome imbalances. Among its havoc, undesirable gut bacteria can create inflammation that directly impacts insulin levels, inevitably creating or exacerbating weight gain.
Give your gut some love! Eat plenty of fiber-rich foods and leafy greens, eliminate the foods that I mentioned above, and be sure you take a high-quality probiotic. I’ve outlined a comprehensive, simple-to-implement plan to heal your gut and lose weight in Happy Gut.
Here’s to making this year your healthiest, highest-frequency life! And don’t let the calendar dictate your health. Remember you can start living a healthier, happier life on any date.
United States – New Year’s resolution for 2018 | Statistic. Retrieved from https://www.statista.com/statistics/378105/new-years-resolution/
Brazier, Y. (2015, November 04). Sleep well to avoid insulin resistance. Retrieved from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/301721.php
Urbina, E. (2018). A New Study Delves Into How Blue Light Affects Your Metabolism. [online] Chronobiology.com. Available at: https://www.chronobiology.com/new-study-delves-blue-light-affects-metabolism/ [Accessed 20 Dec. 2018].