Ahhhhh. New year. New you. 2020 is in full swing and many of us are feeling inspired and ambitious as the new decade kicks off.
Despite not losing as much weight or eating as many greens you set out to last January, something feels different about this year, and those aspirations get recycled back onto your annual to-do list. In fact, according to Inc. these were the top 3 most common resolutions among Americans in 2019:
- Eat healthier
- Exercise more
- Lose weight
If your aim is to elevate your energy, health, quality of life, and your relationships, these are perfect resolutions.
But just like last year, you will likely not succeed…
Unless you shift your attention toward these 4 things:
1. Our sedentary lifestyle
By now, most of us are aware that we spend more time on our butts than suggested. At the office, at school, in the car, at the dinner table, and in front of the TV. The unfortunate truth is that sitting is a domino effect. It depletes our energy, mental state and productivity. If you don’t have the energy to exercise or cook a healthy meal for yourself after 8 hours of sitting at work, at school and while driving home, you are not alone. Standing and moving more throughout your day is vital to help maintain energy levels, motivation, and high spirits. If you want to improve your health, kiboshing the sedentary life is non-negotiable.
Resolution #1: Invite movement into your daily routine
Purchase a standing desk that enables you to switch between sitting and standing throughout the day, stretch at your desk, choose the high tables at cafes or restaurants that give you the ability to stand up every now and then, go on walk breaks.
2. Our vitamin N deficiency
In the technology age, people are able to accomplish more than ever before in a shorter amount of time. While the combination of technology + productivity has great perks, it has also caused humans to be deficient in an essential vitamin: Nature. Research from The Nature Principle proves that our alienation from nature leads to attention difficulties, obesity, higher rates of emotional and physical illnesses, and more. These problems are linked more broadly to what health care experts call the “epidemic of inactivity.” The good news is that like all vitamin deficiencies, this can be reversed. Recent studies focus less on what is lost when nature experience dwindles, but on what is gained through more exposure to natural settings, including nearby nature in urban places.
Resolution #2: Up your daily nature dose
Exercise outside, buy plants for your home and your office, sign up for a run or an event you have to train for outside, make camping/hiking reservations on the weekends, choose outdoor seating when available.
3. Our failing diets
The one-size-fits-all approach to nutrition no longer works. Tim Spector, professor and author of “The Diet Myth,” just wrapped the largest ongoing scientific nutrition study of its kind. The study explored how participants process their meals, and it yielded massively varying results. Even identical twins don’t react the same way to the same foods — which is why most diets do not work. Just because going Keto worked wonders for your cousins, it doesn’t mean it will work for you. Spector’s hope is that the latest technologies (artificial intelligence, new gut microbiome tests or food logging apps) help people eat less of the foods that could lead to weight gain and other risks, and try new options they hadn’t considered.
Resolution #3: Get to know your gut
Take a micro-biome test to find out what foods fuel your body and what foods take a toll on your body. Download food logging apps and log how you feel after eating various foods. Cut back on foods that make you feel less than optimal and pay attention to the results. Patience is required for this trial and error method.
4. Our poor sleep quality
When it comes to our bodies, everything is connected. New research from 2019 showed that even mild sleep deprivation may negatively affect gut health, which in turn has a major impact on immunity, metabolic health, mood and cognition. Stress, technology emitting blue light, and discomfort are more obvious factors that contribute to poor sleep. But perhaps the most important is being unaware of our Chronotypes – the classification that teaches us what time of day our unique individual bodies function best. The Sleep Doctor, Michael Breus, says “There’s almost nothing you undertake in your waking life that isn’t affected by your chronotype, from your sex life to your diet to your ability to be a top performer in your career. Living in better alignment with your chronotype can help you do everything better AND enjoy everything more.”
Resolution #4: Hack your sleep
Take the chronotype quiz and adjust your schedule accordingly. Purchase glasses that block the blue light from your devices and wear them at least an hour before bed. Invest in a sleep tracker – we like the Oura Ring because it is comfortable to wear while sleeping.
Resolutions are nothing but positive. It’s admirable that most of us work to improve ourselves each year. Failing year after year, however, can be disheartening, so take advantage of the information and tools provided. Take a step back and approach your goals with a new perspective and a new plan. Again, the 4 action steps you can make today in order to accomplish your health resolutions are:
- Invite movement into your daily routine with a height-adjustable desk and more frequent walking/stretching
- Up your daily nature dose by exercising outdoors and buying indoor plants
- Get to know your gut by testing your microbiome
- Hack your sleep by discovering your chronotype and tracking it
Cheers to your best decade yet!