A new year and typically, time for a fresh start. Although of course, you can (and should) start thinking about upgrading your health at any time of the year, January is perfect for a few reasons. For a start, you won’t be the only one trying to detox and stick to a new routine. Hence – lots of support and less questioning of your new habits. It’s also likely that after a few days or weeks of eating heavy foods and perhaps drinking more alcohol than usual, and maybe moving about less, you’ll naturally be craving something fresher to eat and wanting to move your body too. So, if you’ve been thinking about how to reset your body after the festive period and are also looking for advice on making and sticking to better habits, read on.
5 ways to detox that work for YOU
● The first thing to do is take a few days to really tune into your body. We are all guilty of taking it for granted and if it’s doing everything it needs to be, then we usually don’t pause to consider whether our body is in prime condition. When you wake up in the morning – does anything ache? If it’s your lower back, shoulders or neck – have you considered a new mattress or pillows? Remember that it’s recommended to get a new mattress every 7 years. We also recommend memory foam pillows which give strong neck support and hold your head comfortably all night. If your body just generally feels a bit achy, get into the habit of stretching first thing in the morning. Try a Mindfullness meditation and get a massage to help release tension and any aches or pains that you are holding onto in your body.
● Next, when you wake up how does your stomach feel? Is it hard; gurgling; aching? What did you eat yesterday and what time? Eating late at night doesn’t give your food enough time to digest comfortably and can add extra weight as well as increase levels of insulin, glucose and cholesterol. Ideally, you should have your 3 main meals and two snacks between 8am and 7pm. Leave at least 2 hours between eating and going to sleep – there is a link with higher blood pressure eating within that time. Keep a 3-day food diary and any symptoms you experience to explore whether there is a connection between what you eat and how you feel. Bloating and constipation are signs that your body is not tolerating something within your system, which can be what you are feeding it, stress or both.
● Rethink refined sugar. You’re probably still buzzing from all the sugar that the holiday season brings and whilst it seems like a quick and effective energy-giver, ask yourself – how does it really make you feel? Do you experience a ‘come-down’ shortly after that quick hit? How does your digestion feel? And your energy levels overall? The problem with sugar is that it’s everywhere which makes it hard to cut out. So, let’s start slowly and think about simply cutting down the amount of sugar you eat.
First things first, go through your food cupboards and get rid of anything obviously processed and packed full of sugar. Sugar is often disguised under a different name so have a look at the ingredient labels for sucrose, fructose, dextrose or corn syrup – if they are within the top 3-4 ingredients (ingredients are listed in order of quantity), then it’s extremely high in sugar. Get rid of it! If you need some more reasons beyond ‘sugar is bad for you’, here are a few: it’s a huge culprit in obesity, diabetes, depression, cancers and heart disease and it is terribly ageing! It also doesn’t give our body any nutritional value but instead overpowers it with work to try and get rid of it.
● Once you’ve purged your kitchen (and secret chocolate stash) of refined sugar, you’ll need to replace what you normally eat with something healthier – but still delicious. We recommend starting the day with a green smoothie. Pre-made smoothies and juices are usually packed full of sugar so it’s best to have a go at making your own. Here’s a quick recipe:
Green Smoothie recipe
Half a can of coconut milk; 1 pear; 1/2 apple; 1/4 fresh pineapple; 1/2 avocado; tablespoon chia seeds; tablespoon collagen powder (which promotes skin elasticity; holds together your bones and muscles; protects your organs and provides structure to joints and tendons). Blend it all together and drink up! Have this instead of your usual granola (fuller of sugar and fat than you’d imagine!).
Some other quick food swaps you can do include:
● Swap natural yoghurt for Greek yogurt
● Swap vegetable crisps for carrot or cucumber sticks
● Swap rice cakes for plain oatcakes
● Swap sunflower oil for olive, avocado or coconut oil
Over time, add more small swaps in and you’ll be eating healthier without noticing.
● It’s not all about the body. Our mind and mental wellbeing are equally as important in helping us feel well each day, as well as providing the motivation and reasoning behind changes to your diet and exercise routine. Taking care of your mental health needn’t involve hours of counselling or writing in a journal – it can be as simple as taking time to get outside into the fresh air, going to bed an hour earlier than usual; decluttering a room or desk space or reducing your digital load by unsubscribing from unnecessary emails. We found this 20 day mental health challenge on Pinterest which would be a good place to start.
Why forming a habit is so hard….and how to make it easier?
It seems so easy, doesn’t it? You want to make a change to your lifestyle – just a small one. Maybe making overnight oats before you go to bed each night? You know it will get your day off to a good start with something nutritious, filling and tasty, as well as saving you time in the morning. Plus, you know it will only take 2 minutes to do the night before. So why don’t you do it?
Sticking to habits is hard, made even harder by the confusing amounts of information out there regarding how long it takes for a habit to stick. It’s often said that it takes 21 days to stick to a new habit, but this is wrong! In fact, the average amount of time is 66 days, depending on the person and the habit you wish to become ingrained. For some people, it really does seem as easy as deciding to change something in their day to day life and then sticking to it. But for most people, creating a new habit is a battle of excuses, lack of motivation and giving up. For these people, here are a few tips to help:
● Think about your ‘why’. What are the reasons for you taking up this new habit? Make sure you’re doing it for you and no one else. Just because a friend or family member is taking up running doesn’t mean you have to. Choose something that will genuinely make a difference to your life and list the reasons why. For example, making breakfast the night before saves you time making decisions in the morning and you know that yourself and your family are eating something good which sets them up for the day.
● Be specific. ‘Get fit’ or ‘eat healthy’ are so vague, it’s not possible to form a habit from them. However, ‘Run for 10 minutes every day’ is a very clear habit to make. As is drinking caffeine-free tea instead of coffee or planning the exact ingredients you need to make your breakfast oats.
● Start small. ‘Drink 2 litres of water a day’ is a great place to start if you want to build a habit around looking after your body well. Once this becomes habit (i.e. once it becomes as natural as brushing your teeth), you can incorporate the next habit into your life. Starting small and gradually building on each habit keeps it sustainable.
● Track it. Whether you use an app, notebook or piece of paper tacked to the fridge, for each day you successfully complete your new habit, tick it off. Once you start seeing a long line of ticks, you’ll be less and less tempted to have a ‘day off’ and break the chain. Visual cues can really motivate you!
● Saying this, if you do miss a day here and there for one reason or another, don’t let a missed day take you off track. Simply start back up the next day and don’t beat yourself up about it. Everybody slips up but recommitting to your habit each day is the difference between someone who improves their life and someone who sits around making excuses for why they’re not living up to their potential.
● Finally, be kind to yourself. Creating any kind of new habit which will help your body and mind to function better can only be a positive thing. Recognising that you want to look after yourself is more than many people manage so keep that in the front of your mind always. Make this start to the new year the best you can. YOU’VE GOT THIS!