Top 12 Tips for a Healthy 2012
Happy New Year! Now is a perfect time to reflect on our habits and resolve to make some changes for better health. Here are my Top 12 Tips for a Healthier 2012.
1. Eat more greens like kale, chard, spinach, and bok choy.
Most Americans don’t eat enough green leafy vegetables and they are so good for us! In addition to being high in antioxidants, vitamins A, B and K, iron, lutein and omega-3s, dark leafy greens help reduce inflammation, lower cholesterol levels and protect the immune system. Although making salads and eating them raw seems easiest, many of these leafy vegetables such as chard, spinach, collards and mustard greens are actually better for you after they’ve been cooked.
2. Eat real food.
Americans typically eat a lot of packaged, processed and prepared foods in our busy lives. We need to eat more whole foods: vegetables and fruit and whole grains, meat, fish and eggs. Cook from scratch. Avoid bar codes.
3. Drink more water–especially if you want to lose weight.
Most of us are dehydrated. Experts vary on the actual amounts we need but a good rule of thumb is to divide your body weight in half for the number of fluid ounces you should drink. So if you weigh 140, you should drink 70 oz or 8.5 glasses of water. Remember that caffeinated beverages actually deplete our hydration so we need to drink more water to make up for those drinks.
4. Cut back on sugar–especially if you want to lose weight.
Over consumption of sugar is the number one reason Americans are unhealthy, in my opinion. The evils of sugar are too numerous to mention here (see previous blog post) but I think of sugar as a poisonous addictive substance like heroin. Of course it’s not as bad as heroin but that reference helps me to avoid it. Included in this category is high fructose corn syrup which in my opinion is worse than sugar.
5. Quit addictive habits.
I know this is a lot easier said than done, but curbing unhealthy addictive substances like tobacco and drinking more than 3-5 glasses of alcoholic beverages a week can do wonders for your health.
6. Get 8 hours of sleep at night.
Sleep is incredibly important for overall health. Lack of sleep affects our immune system, our stress levels, our emotional state, all of which can contribute to health problems, not to mention the fact that fatique affects the food choices we make. Getting enough rest will benefit all aspects of your life.
7. Be active every day.
There are a lot of different theories on how much and how often we should exercise. One thing is clear–the health benefits are many. What is important is to find an activity that you enjoy and make exercising fun. My thought in general is to get your heart pumping hard every day, lift heavy things every day, and move more than you sit.
8. Get fresh air.
Spend time outdoors walking, hiking, biking, or just sitting listening to the birds in the trees. Getting fresh air and being outside can restore balance to our busy lives.
9. Get Vitamin D.
If it’s a sunny day then you can do this while doing number 8 above. But if not, you may need a supplement. Most Americans are Vitamin D deficient especially at this time of year. Be sure and take Vitamin D3 as it is considered a more potent form of the vitamin. Vitamin D is crucial for the absorption of calcium and phosporus, helping us maintain healthy bones. It benefits our immune system, our brain function, and decreases our risk of arthritis and cancer, among other benefits. New studies are coming out all the time on the many health benefits of Vitamin D.
10. Spend time with friends.
Sometimes we get so consumed by the demands of our lives, that we neglect our relationships. Laughing, relaxing, sharing and connecting are vital to our overall well being.
11. Keep a gratitude journal.
I have found this to be very grounding and beneficial. Writing down, on a daily basis, what I am grateful for gets me present to how much I have and helps me to keep things in perspective. I see the big picture and dwell less on the small, petty irritations of everyday life.
12. Hug those you love.
I don’t think there’s anything better than a good hug when you need one. Close your eyes and feel the connection, the love being given and received. In our fast paced world of cell phones, telecommuting, and running from here to there, make sure to stop and take the time for a really good hug.
To your health,
Holistic Health and Nutrition Coach