Heading into the New Year means different things to everybody. Some see it as the time to make that change they’ve been wanting to make, and for others it’s another day in the life. I mean after all, you can make a resolution to change any time you want, right? Being in the health industry I’ve compiled a short list of what I think could be some ‘resolutions’ to incorporate into your life in 2019. They’ve done wonders for me and thousands of people around the globe, so this is my list, for you, for attaining a healthier body and state of mind.
Incorporate intermittent fasting into your lifestyle. It can be for 8 hours at a time, 12, 16, 24, 36, 48. I don’t care how often you do it, but take the time to let your organs rest. If you consider that for thousands of years mankind didn’t have access to the abundance of food we have today, it might make more sense why obesity, heart disease, and diabetes weren’t risks back then. This onslaught of Neolithic diseases is new to our species. In the past hunters and gatherers would have to fast because that was the way of life, it wasn’t by choice! Learn to lessen your food consumption, let your gastrointestinal tract reset from time to time, otherwise those tissues never get a break. Fasting can also help put you into a state of ‘ketosis’ where you burn fat for energy (instead of carbs), which is great considering that’s the thing most people want less of. Fasting can also teach you about your emotional ties to food (which we all have). Have you ever noticed when you’re stressed, anxious, sad, or happy you eat incessantly? This might be because your brain-gut axis is being controlled by your emotions.
Result? More energy, improved sense of hunger cues, less reliant on food for joy. Burn fat more easily, save money on food, develop awareness of what you need versus what you want.
Get natural sunlight. Morning sun or evening sun is best because it doesn’t have the harmful effects of ultraviolet rays, but getting sunlight, seeing sunlight, and feeling sunlight matters. Evidence suggests that it helps ‘wake up’ your mitochondria, which are the energy producers of each cell in your body. So when sunlight hits your skin and retina, it sends a message to your mitochondria, which then helps your cells oxidize and perform their duties more efficiently. If that’s too science-y consider this, until the invention of the lightbulb our days were dictated by natural light. Circadian rhythms (internal clocks in our bodies) are wired to work with the sun and with nature. However, the proliferation of artificial light has thrown our internal clocks off and our central nervous system has lost its way in how and when to function. Studies continuously show blue lights and fluorescent light as being tied to anxiety, depression, weight gain, and a slew of other mental health problems (do some research and learn about it!) Having trouble sleeping? It could be because of the fact blue light shuts off melatonin development.
Results? Vitamin D, mitochondrial activation (improves cellular respiration), a break from the dreaded world of blue / artificial light, improved sleep, and some studies suggest a healthier metabolism.
Reconnect with nature and go barefoot. “Grounding” or “earthing” is a newer science that promotes us connecting to the earth more regularly (although its been used for thousands of years). Basically, get your skin to touch the ground, hands, feet, anything. We have become so insular over the past 100 years, moving further and further away from our natural states of being animals. We were born out of nature, and as soon as we start growing up our feet are forced into shoes, and we live these indoor incredibly sterile lives barely interacting with nature. Consider this, mankind lived off the land way longer than they are living off of industrialization and factory farming. Nature can humble us, slow us down, and also act as a ways of reminding us just how big and wonderful life is. Earthing in particular is beneficial for aches and pains you have or any inflammation occurring in your body. The human foot is the only part of the body that evolved to be in constant contact with the earth. So many of us are walking around with weak and stiff foot muscles. Being barefoot and introducing varieties of textures to your feet forces your feet to adapt to new circumstances.
Results? Improved circulation and better parasympathetic activation. Slows down adrenal glands (which when overworked causes adrenal fatigue) and is great as a meditative practice. Happier feet which in effect can make the rest of your body happier (the blood in your feet is the same blood in your brain).
Consume less. You may be thinking, “how will all of this effect my health?” Let me tell you, when you consume less (I know this is a broad statement) your create less friction in your body. It might mean consuming less wheat, or sugar, or alcohol, recreational drugs, television, whatever it is, it will dramatically change how you feel over time. In the 21st century we have become obsessed with things that save us time (Lyft, Amazon, grocery delivery, Netflix, etc) yet we keep trying to figure out how to have more of it. One of my favorite ways to get more time is by consuming less and omitting what doesn’t serve me. It is not daily increase but daily decrease, hack away the unessential. This will create space for more time, more time to reflect, ponder, and introspectively observe your life (unless you fill the free time with social media and television).
Results? Increased personal time, less fatigue, more appreciation for life’s simple blessings. Less stress, slower internal state, more time to do what you love.
Find ways to create every day. Creativity matters, as it helps to express your most inner feelings. Find creative ways to overcome hurdles, to cook, to play with your children, whatever it is give it a try. Maybe journaling, playing music, drawing in a notebook, all of these things could be considered creative outlets. Creating new things helps give us ownership of talents we were born with. Do your best to avoid the time suck of life which drains us of energy and our creative visions. If you follow step #4 and start finding yourself with more time on your hands, explore different outlets of creativity. You might not find what you enjoy right away, but with enough searching, you’re bound to find something that is relaxing, enjoyable, and creates a sense of satisfaction in you. No two people create the same way, so be patient with yourself.
Results? Joy, happiness, a sense of achievement. Works a different part of the brain and fosters more open-minded thinking.
Develop a movement practice and vary it. Learn to use your body. I am biased in this arena as it is my job to educate people on how to use their body in new exploratory ways, but it cannot be said enough. You’ve got to move, and in a variety of ways. Training is not optional, it is essential. Degenerative disease is another occurrence that mankind hasn’t had in such abundance until the past 60 years. Once the crops were industrialized, and manufacturing became automated, it reduced how much the average person uses their body. Fast forward to today, and people are sitting at computers more than ever, and their joints / connective tissues are suffering more than they need to. They’re in cars, on cell phones, standing in lines for $5 coffees, we are essentially moving in the opposite direction of our ancestry. For centuries we used our hips and shoulders and bodies to walk, run, throw, and carry, day in and day out. Today we’re chasing an unrealistic image of the body at the expense of damaging our joints. 21st-Century lifestyle puts us in our cars, at our desks, and in front of screens too much, causing muscle tension imbalances. Exercise and fitness has created an illusion of what a healthy body is, when really, in my humble opinion, a healthy body is one that has options. A person who has joint adaptability, and can create useful tension in their body can do a lot more than somebody who can’t. Movement isn’t as easy as just going to the gym, so my advice is to find a trainer, somebody who knows what they’re talking about, and get on that horse. The longer you wait, the harder and stiffer your body will get. Prioritize longevity and sustainable practices that leave you feeling taller, more engaged in your body, and lighter in your walk.
Results? Improved sense of self. Increased nerve conduction, blood and oxygen circulation, better proprioception and kinesthetic awareness. A body that is flexible, powerful, and balanced. Build new synaptic responses in your body (increasing your kinesthetic quotient, KQ).
Find something to do that is mindful. It could be walking, woodworking, gardening, painting, cleaning, literally anything. It could be a sitting practice, listening to music, something that lets you slow down and be fully present. Something where you can watch your breath and feel the life inside you. Similar to creating something new, a mindful practice becomes your time for yourself. Some people meditate, others cook, maybe flossing your teeth is your practice. My point is find an activity that promotes a sense of feeling more at peace, or undisturbed. It doesn’t have to be something lavish, or eccentric, or complicated. It can be the simplest thing, done with attention and focus.
Results? An appreciation for time alone. Gratitude for simple tasks. Helps reduce stress and bring into light things we enjoy doing for the sake of doing them, not seeking some soft of accomplishment.
These are my tips, my humble opinions as to ways you can attain a higher frequency of health. They are mine, and may or may not be yours. Over time I’ve met a lot of people that share these lifestyle priorities and these people have healthier physiologies than those who don’t. At the end of the day, there is no right or wrong, there is what you do and what nourishes your health. I hope you find these useful in your quest for happiness and wellbeing.