Start Healthy, Stay Healthy in 2019
Just weeks ago the lights were up, the tree was decorated, and we were scooting from one holiday gathering to the next. The holidays can be a blast, but they can also throw you off your schedule, leaving behind a sluggishness that can be a little hard to shake.
With insight from our Chief Medical Advisor, Dr. Cheng Ruan, we’ve put together tips that will help rejuvenate your health and well-being as we step into 2019.
But first, what is it about the holidays that can set our physical and emotional health back? According to Dr. Ruan there are a number of factors.
“During the holidays most people let themselves go a little bit. One, there is the stress of just being around family, hosting family and friends, or being present for events. With all of those our schedules and habits are really thrown off. Two, our eating is obviously not going to be the same as usual.”
Dr. Ruan also points out that for some people the holidays can be very difficult emotionally. “The people who enjoy the holidays are the ones who get together with family and have a great time. But some people go into deep, dark depression around that time, which I often see at my practice. The people who dislike the holidays may have lost a loved one during that season or associate that lost person with the holidays.”
Each of these wellness factors attack our stress response. Dr. Ruan suggests that to get out of a holiday leftover slump we must first recognize the stress triggers and assess that our patterns and habits need to be refocused.
Live a Daily Life of Intent & Purpose
As cliché as it may sound resolutions are great for analyzing ourselves and narrowing the goals we wish to accomplish in both the short- and long-term.
“One of the most important things we can do to revitalize our health in 2019 is to start each day with intent and purpose. That way you get control of your own day rather than being reactive to the things that are around you,” says Dr. Ruan.
Nutrition & Fasting
Without suggesting any specific diet or meal plans, a primary objective for prioritizing your nutrition in 2019 is incorporating the goodness of wholesome foods like veggies, fruits, superfoods, grains, and healthy meats and fish.
Dr. Ruan points out another valuable dietary intervention to increase natural energy and assist with weight-loss is intermittent fasting. “I’m a big fan of fasting. It’s really easy for people to adopt either an intermittent or prolonged fasting plan. Fasting is great because it actually resets the brain. When neurotransmitters are reset during a fast your body starts healing, so stem cells get up-regulated.”
If you haven’t practiced an intermittent fast before it may sound extreme, but there are a number of different plans available from daily food restriction times, to whole day and alternate day fasts.
“Challenging yourself and sticking to it is really important. A prolonged or intermittent fast once a month is really beneficial. Plus, it will give you a targeted way of dealing with life. It’s also a good way to lose some extra pounds you may have gained during the holidays,” says Dr. Ruan.
Fitness & Activity in 2019
Nothing pairs better with a wholesome nutrition plan than setting and sticking to fitness and activity goals in 2019. The reasons why a consistent fitness plan is valuable runs long. From improved quality of life, prevention of disease and ailments to weight-loss and enhanced mood, regular fitness activities are a perfect foundational resource for jumpstarting a year of health and well-being.
Is it necessary to get amped up and jump into exercising at an extreme pace? No. Dr. Ruan says, “I’d rather people do five out of ten on the intensity level five days straight rather than trying to perform a nine or 10 on the intensity level two days out of the week.”
Easing into a fitness regimen at lower intensity levels has it advantages for a few reasons. “One, you’re spending more time exercising and you’re actually getting benefits after you’ve finished. Plus, that (lower intensity) pace is not too hard on the adrenals and helps you develop the mentality to continue your fitness activities the following week.”
Fitness or Nutrition, Which Comes First?
A question Dr. Ruan gets asked a lot after the holidays is whether it’s smarter to begin a fitness program first, a nutrition plan first, or both simultaneously. Without hesitation, Dr. Ruan suggests getting a hold of the nutrition portion is the primary goal—and for good reason.
“A lot of time when we eat foods that promote inflammation which is sugars, meat-related foods, or foods cooked at high temperatures, your body goes through this period of insulin resistance. During that time your immune system is not very good, so your propensity for being injured is significantly higher than when you’re eating clean.”
Thankfully, regaining normal levels of immune function doesn’t take long.
“All it takes is four to five days of eating clean and then you can start the exercise portion. After four or five days of eating clean you’ll want to exercise. Your energy is already better and you’ll then be less likely to injure yourself if you’re exercising with intent.
Be Happy & Ready To Serve
When asked if there are any other wellness practices or habits people can incorporate into their daily lives in 2019 Dr. Ruan has a simple philosophical suggestion.
“What I would like for everybody to do is to do something that I learned from one of my favorite motivational speakers Brendon Burchard. Every time he goes through a doorway or a room he says either out loud or to himself, “I enter this room as a happy man ready to serve.” If you say that out loud, as a woman or man, while entering a doorway or archway, car, anything like that, you really push intent into yourself and you put it out to the universe and it is going to have a significant effect on what you do for that day. And the more times you do it in a row the more of a compounding effect it will have. It’s all about operating with intent.”