By Dr. Chad Larson, NMD, DC, CCN, CSC
Nothing is more synonymous with the new year than coming up with resolutions. Every new year we get motivated and set about making goals to better ourselves. Many resolutions revolve around our health and taking care of our bodies, but will we be doing these “healthy” practices six months from now? Most likely we won’t since only four percent of people actually stick to their New Year’s resolutions. Why is this? The goals and practices that we set for ourselves in January simply aren’t sustainable. If you want to be able to keep your resolutions, the key is to set goals that you’ll be able to maintain. Here are five ways to help you transform your health in 2022 with sustainable lifestyle practices.
1. Eat a higher-protein breakfast
Many resolutions tend to revolve around more healthful eating. However, it can be incredibly challenging to change one’s diet overnight. Cutting out processed fat, sugar and otherwise unhealthy food can be beneficial, but going cold turkey and maintaining a new, strict diet could be setting yourself up for failure. Instead, start by altering your diet with a higher protein breakfast. A study published in the International Journal of Obesity showed that eating a high-protein breakfast, can help control glucose levels, thereby providing a more healthful lifestyle. High protein breakfasts include foods such as eggs, turkey bacon, string cheese, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, chicken sausage or protein shakes (be careful of hidden sugars here) coupled with one serving of whole grain carbohydrates.
2. Physical activity
Working out is a common New Year’s resolution, the trouble is that people try to go from zero to 60 the first week of January. It simply doesn’t work that way and can lead to fatigue and even injury. It’s best to ease into physical activity. The American Heart Association recommends that healthy adults get 150 minutes (30 minutes, five days a week) of aerobic activity. Try to go for a 30-minute walk after dinner a few days a week and work up to five days. Or, if you can’t walk for 30 minutes straight, start by breaking it out into three 10-minute walks or two 15-minute walks. The idea is to simply get started, but in a more sustainable way. Additionally, a recent study found that physical inactivity is associated with higher risk for severe COVID-19 outcomes, so getting in some moderate exercise could be crucial during this time.
3. Optimize sleep
Sleep is when your body rests and repairs itself. By including sleep on your resolutions list, you can feel good about squeezing in some extra hours or even a nap. The CDC recommends that adults ages 18-60 get seven or more hours of sleep per night. Not only that, but if one of your resolutions is weight loss, a study showed that people sleeping 8.5 hours a night compared to 5.5 hours lost 55 percent more body fat while consuming the exact same diet. Plus, lack of sleep or burnout may increase risk of COVID-19 infection, so getting those extra Zs can be imperative to your health.
4. Optimize vitamin D
Vitamin D is a vital nutrient that helps your body maintain healthy bones, is an anti-inflammatory, an antioxidant and protects muscle and brain activity. Taking a vitamin D supplement is a completely sustainable resolution that can have a tremendous impact on your health. Not only that, but a study showed that vitamin D deficiency was associated with a six-fold increase in severe disease from COVID-19 and 15-fold risk of death, so this is a healthful, timely and easy resolution.
5. Reduce exposure to synthetic chemicals
Obesogens are synthetic chemicals that disrupt the endocrine system and may lead to weight gain and obesity as well as hinder your body’s natural immune response. They are being let loose at astonishing rates into our environment, with 10 million new chemicals released each year, which is more than 1,000 per hour. The five obesogens most commonly found in the home are Bisphenol-A (BPA), Phthalates, Atrazine, Organotins and Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA). Reducing exposure to these chemicals is as simple as paying attention to the types of products you use or bring into your home, making it an easy resolution to keep. If you’re not sure of your current exposure level, you can ask your healthcare provider for an Array 11 test. The Array 11 test measures a large range of environmental chemical toxins that are found in your system. This will let you know what type of exposure you’ve already had, and then as you make adjustments, follow-up tests make it easy to monitor progress of exposure reduction.
Sustainable resolutions stick
As you start making your New Year’s resolutions, remember that sustainable resolutions are best. It’s tempting to set ambitious goals, but that’s a sure way to get resolution burnout and set yourself up for failure. There are some easy things you can do to transform your health and lifestyle in 2022 without setting the bar astronomically high. Making simple adjustments like eating a high-protein breakfast and getting enough sleep are easy to do and easy to maintain. Try incorporating the five resolutions above for a new year that will effectively and simply transform your health.
Dr. Chad Larson, NMD, DC, CCN, CSCS, Advisor and Consultant on Clinical Consulting Team for Cyrex Laboratories. Dr. Larson holds a Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine degree from Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine and a Doctor of Chiropractic degree from Southern California University of Health Sciences. He is a Certified Clinical Nutritionist and a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist. He particularly pursues advanced developments in the fields of endocrinology, orthopedics, sports medicine, and environmentally-induced chronic disease.